Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Mariska Hargitay

James Dimmock/NBC

Mariska Hargitay has spent 16 years as Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU. To celebrate the start of the landmark 16th season, the Emmy and Golden Globe winner took the hotseat opposite James Lipton for Inside the Actors Studio. No topics were off the table, naturally, and Hargitay opened up about everything from her former partner Christopher Meloni and how she got into Benson's skin all those years ago.

To prepare for the role of Benson, Hargitay shadowed cops. She learned how to shoot a gun—she's a good aim too—and said she's now adept at spotting pickpockets. So really, don't try anything.

Viewers will recall for 12 years she shared the screen with Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler. The actor left the show before season 13, riling fans of the beloved partners. When asked about  him, Hargitay acknowledged Meloni's new claim-to-fame—having the best butt in Hollywood—and praised him as an actor and a person.

"I'm so grateful for my time with him," she says in the clip above. "I think Chris is incapable of lying. He is a truth-teller; he's committed to the truth at all costs. I loved his passion and commitment…He made me better and I love him. I loved acting with him and I love him as a person."

When season 16 of Law & Order: SVU kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 24, Benson is back in charge of the squad. She's got a new detective amongst the ranks and a new baby at home. She's still taking care of foster baby Noah, but he's put in jeopardy in the season 16 premiere. And 16 years later, Harigtay is more in love with her job than ever before.

"I love her more now than ever...I love her because I am challenged by her," Hargitay told reporters on set of Law & Order: SVU. "I never know what's going to happen. She surprises me. [Warren Leight, showrunner] surprises me. This character has evolved, which is the most exciting part of it. I feel in many ways she's a new character because she's gone through so much that has truly transformed her."

Hargitay's Inside the Actors Studio airs Monday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. on Bravo.

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

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.