Law & Order: SVU, Mariska Hargitay, Kelli Giddish

Michael Parmelee/NBC

When Kelli Giddish joined Law and Order: SVU as Detective Amanda Rollins in 2011 she knew there was something bubbling under the character's surface. She wasn't exactly sure what, just that there was something mysterious to her new detective.

"We knew about the gambling [problem] and there was—[executive producer Warren Leight] knew something had happened, that she was damaged," Giddish said on set of SVU. "...[W]e didn't ever have to talk about it, really, Warren and I both just kind of knew that she was damaged goods because you just don't up and leave for no reason…unless you're Kelli Giddish."

Viewers learned Detective Rollins left her Atlanta home after being raped by her commanding officer played by Harry Hamlin. It's been a three season journey in unraveling the character and it seemingly culminated in "Forgiving Rollins," an episode that saw Hamlin's character attack another of his officers—another blonde-haired woman—while visiting New York. Rollins' past came to light while Hamlin's character was on trial and everything changed for the character.

"The only thing I said—I was concerned because we've never had a detective on SVU having been raped, as far as I know—so I just wanted it to be very well thought out and round. I said that jokingly to Warren because I knew he was going to supply a great storyline and I think he did," Giddish said about the storyline.

Law & Order: SVU, Mariska Hargitay, Kelli Giddish

Michael Parmelee/NBC

Giddish did a lot of research before diving into the gambling addiction story, but when it was time to uncover more of Rollins' secret past, she went to none other than SVU's mama bear.

"I talked to Mariska," Giddish said, referring to Law & Order: SVU star and producer Mariska Hargitay. "I talked to Mariska a lot. ‘Cause it's more of a feeling that I usually go off of. You do your research, literally, but it's like, ‘What's the overriding characteristics,' which is so not fair to say, but I picked out one person that I knew was a survivor and just kind of thought about her and her daily life and how maybe I can see it, how it affected her."

After Rollins revealed the truth about her past, Hargitay's Sergeant Benson tried to help the character by getting her into therapy. Rollins balked.

"That scene with Mariska, in her office, in that episode was probably my favorite because it's the whole, ‘I'm fine. I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine! I'm fine! I'm fine! I don't want to talk about it!' I think that's a main hurdle with a lot of people that have been assaulted," she said. "I felt myself doing it in the scene like, ‘No, I put myself in that situation,' and that's what's so heartbreaking."

Law & Order: SVU, Mariska Hargitay, Kelli Giddish

Michael Parmelee/NBC

Giddish's character took some time off and revealed she went to a retreat in Costa Rica. "Rollins at a retreat? It's so funny."—but Giddish said she has a feeling the past isn't quite behind her just yet. Law and Order: SVU was just renewed for season 17, making it the longest-running drama on TV ("Of course a teamster told me first, before I heard it from anyone. Before my agent, before anyone.") and Giddish has some hopes for what's next.

"Yeah, there are some things I have in mind….maybe she's healing herself a little bit, so what about family? What about her personal life? What about a relationship that's sustainable? What does that look like?...It's going to be exciting to see where the cards fall with her. I don't think she's going to slip up in the way that you've seen her. But I can't wait to see if her relationship with Benson strengthens because she's not effed up anymore, you know? What is that going to be like where two strong women get together and actually get along? That would be cool…let's let Carisi [Peter Scanavino] be the problem child for a little while," she said with a laugh.

Law and Order: SVU airs Wednesdays, 9 p.m. on NBC.

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

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