It's the end of an SVU era.
After announcing her departure from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in August, Kelli Giddish bid farewell to her character Detective Amanda Rollins on the NBC drama's Dec. 8 episode. And as emotional as it was to watch her tackle one last case with Mariska Hargitay's Captain Olivia Benson, the actress revealed it was just as bittersweet to film in a recent interview with Variety.
"There's so much laughter and there were so many tears," she said. "It was a really beautiful experience."
In addition to leaving her role at the NYPD for a new job, the season 24 fall finale episode also saw Rollins tie the knot with boyfriend Dominick "Sonny" Carisi Jr. (Peter Scanavino), a plot point Kelli said made her "so happy."
"I was like, 'Thank God'" she joked, "because the fans are going to freak out if they don't get it! Let's give it to them."
The 42-year-old has been a longtime cast member since joining the show's 13th season in 2011. But like all good things, Kelli said she knew now was time for Rollins' story to come to a close.
"I felt like where it was heading, and where it headed last night, just seemed the right place to leave it right now," the star explained. "I am so excited about things going on in my personal life and kind of the mirroring of what's going on in my personal life and in Rollins', there's a lot of joy to be experienced."
"The audience loves these characters, they know us," she said. "Dick Wolf has got such a fertile universe that's going on, that people can pop up in different places. That's a really cool thing that he's created."
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit returns Thursday, Jan. 5, at 9 p.m. on NBC.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)