Mariska Hargitay was destined to be Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU. She just knew it.
"I read the script and I just—I knew in my gut that I had to do this role. I had never been so excited about it. And the thing that was interesting is that my agent called me, and he said, ‘Maris, you know it's very dark subject matter. I don't know if it's your thing. I don't know if it's going to be your bag, it's super dark,'" Hargitay said on Late Show with Stephen Colbert. "I read it and just, you know, chills. And I knew I had to do it."
Hargitay was in the middle of a development deal working on a comedy when the script for SVU came to her attention. She read for a couple of people before meeting with executive producer and creator Dick Wolf, and she said she wasn't fully sure of who he was. He gave her notes, she agreed with them, and then she got another callback. When she got there, another actress was also taking meetings.
"So, I walked in and I go, ‘Listen, you're confused. Here's the deal, I'm pretty sure this is me. I'm pretty sure this has got my name written all over it. This is my part. I'm serious, we're past this, let's not even waste your time'" she said. "And he laughed, and then we went to the network and I got it. And I found out that the other girl was for another role, and she was in the pilot too! And we've become friends."
Law & Order: SVU was renewed for a season 21 in the 2019-2020 cycle, making it the longest-running scripted primetime live-action TV series.
"I'm still actually, truly, processing it. Because it's a lot to download and process," Hargitay said.
Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays, 10 p.m. on NBC.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)