Law and Order: SVU Shows Why You Should Never Mess With Olivia Benson

Mariska Hargitay was at her fiercest as SVU's Benson when she went toe-to-toe with guest star Margaret Cho

By Chris Harnick Nov 08, 2019 2:55 PMTags
Watch: Mariska Hargitay Feels "Privileged & Blessed" to Play Olivia Benson

For the last 20 years, Olivia Benson has been a force to be reckoned with. Law & Order: SVU guest star Margaret Cho learned that firsthand when she guest starred in the season 21 episode titled "Counselor, It's Chinatown."

The Thursday, Nov. 7 episode of SVU featured Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and her squad investigating a massage parlor and the illegal sexual activities that went on behind the scenes, including an assault. The scene below features Benson confronting Mamasan (Cho) about the game she's been playing with witnesses and survivors, all in an effort to get her to give up her bosses. Of course it's done over mahjong. Is there anything Captain Benson can't do?

Benson, in an effort to get Mamasan to give up her bosses, resorts to Mamasan's own tactics of veiled threats, and brought up Mamasan's daughter and her future at a university.

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"I know that universities don't like bad publicity. And I know that they don't accept tuition paid for by sex traffickers," Benson said. "They find out about you? They won't take Jia. You worked hard your whole life so Jia would have the break you never did, but I pick up the phone to the dean of admissions at Davis [snaps], that all goes away."

She got her.

On the SVU podcast, Squadroom, Cho opened up about her time guest starring on the role. "I noticed on this show, when they play against type, it's really effective, whether it's Martin Short or even Cynthia Nixon, you really show a range here. To me, as an LA actor, this is like real acting, New York acting, it's the real deal, so it's exciting to be a part of it," she said.

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Cho, who has been an outspoken survivor of sexual abuse, said SVU absolutely takes the subject matter seriously. And it all comes down to Benson.

"I think there's something about Olivia Benson…She's somebody who—it's sort of like she exists in your subconscious as this figure of strength and power…She represents so much power and so much of what we want to happen and that kind of avenging angel that's going to save you and understands, and is not going to let you down. It's a cathartic thing to watch when you have had this kind of abuse in your life," Cho said.

Ahead of the season 21 premiere, Hargitay told E! News she never shied away from being associated with the character of Olivia Benson.

"I am so grateful and in love with this character that I am so blessed to play," she said. "This character is to me heroic and something that our culture needed, somebody who fought for women and who elevated women's voices and who bears witness to such pain and there is great healing in that."

"I feel very privileged and blessed to have grown in this character and get to affect as many people as I have been privileged to affect in my life," Hargitay said.

Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays, 10 p.m. on NBC.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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