Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni and More ‘SVU’ Stars Reflect on Show’s 25 Years: “Shifting the Narrative on How Survivors Are Treated” (2024)

Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Peter Scanavino, Octavio Pisano and more of the current and past stars of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit reflected on the show’s 25 years, becoming the longest-running live-action series in television history, at a celebration event Tuesday.

At the heart of the show, which investigates sexually heinous crimes in New York City, is Hargitay’s Captain Olivia Benson. She has been the center of the series since episode one aired in 1999 and has climbed through the ranks to lead the team, coming across her own set of struggles along the way.

Hargitay believes a lot of things contribute to the show’s continued success and dedicated fans, from series creator Dick Wolf’s vision to the great writing.

“I think it is such incredibly important subject matter that is finally being dealt in a respectful manner in the way that it deserves to be,” she told The Hollywood Reporter at the show’s NYC anniversary event.

Hargitay recently opened up in an essay for People about the trauma she endured for years after she was raped by a friend in her 30s, explaining how playing Benson has given her and viewers courage to speak up.

“I think we’re telling people stories that haven’t been told, that deserve to be told, that we’re approaching with the attention to detail that should have been part of our culture for a long time, and now, this show has changed that. So it’s incredibly powerful and shifting the narrative on how survivors are treated,” Hargitay added to THR, getting visibly emotional. “It’s an important show.”

Scanavino takes on the role of Dominick Carisi, a former SVU detective who now serves as the assistant district attorney for the Manhattan division of the New York Police Department. He feels like the fact that the show is entertaining is part of what keeps people coming back, but he thinks it also goes a step further than that.

“It’s oddly comforting to people, but I think it gives voice to a lot of people who don’t have voices, and there’s something … appealing’s the wrong word,” he told THR. “It’s just more like, ‘It’s gonna be OK.’ I think it has that kind of effect on people.”

After 12 years on the show portraying Benson’s partner, Elliot Stabler, Meloni left SVU and returned to the Law & Order universe in 2021 for a new series titled Organized Crime, in which he is part of a task force that investigates, well, organized crime.

Meloni touched on how his character has grown over the years, detailing how the Stabler people see in SVU and the one in OC are different.

“Getting away and getting into the world, I think he was … he’s become a little more worldly,” he told THR. “I think that getting away from Benson, he was finally able to deal with some of his bullsh*t. I think he’s now a guy who’s ready to heal himself or has the tools to go to therapy and figure out his blind spots.”

SVU and OC have had a few crossover episodes since the newest installment in the franchise aired. One of Meloni’s co-stars, Ainsley Seiger, explained at the 25th anniversary celebration that she feels Hargitay is a big part of the show’s staying power because she’s kept it fresh and alive all these years.

She also echoed Hargitay and Scanavino’s sentiments about why the series continues to resonate with people more than two decades after its release.

SVU exists in this world where the trauma that victims face that people in real life experience on a daily basis is not often treated with diligence or respect or with much tact,” Seiger said. “I think seeing a world in which you know victims’ trauma is handled gently and delicately, and you’re told that it’s not your fault, is perhaps one of the most important things that we could see on television.”

For Pisano, who portrays detective Joe Velasco on SVU, the show serves as more than just a sensitive way to handle tough stories. “These are things that we see in the news that we see a lot come up, and there’s no closure,” he explained to THR. “So I feel like, in a way, the show gives closure. In a way, it’s therapy.”

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit season 25 premieres on NBC on Thursday at 9 p.m.

Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni and More ‘SVU’ Stars Reflect on Show’s 25 Years: “Shifting the Narrative on How Survivors Are Treated” (2024)

FAQs

Are Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay friends? ›

Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni's beautiful friendship. Between appearances on SVU and the Meloni-helmed Law & Order: Organized Crime, Hargitay and Meloni have been gracing our screens together for 25 years — and their friendship runs deep.

Why did Benson leave SVU? ›

Following the events of "Manhattan Transfer", Benson is relieved of her duties as Commanding Officer of SVU, largely due to her (personal) involvement with now-Captain Tucker, who becomes a person of interest in a complex sex trafficking case SVU stumbled upon.

How was Stabler written out of SVU? ›

Stabler refused to attend sessions and instead decided to resign from the force without giving Benson any heads-up. Stabler then uprooted his family and moved to Italy, leaving Benson and SVU fans everywhere heartbroken over the sudden loss of her partner.

Has Mariska Hargitay been in anything else? ›

She continued making guest appearances in TV shows, including Baywatch, Wiseguy, thirtysomething, and Booker, until she was again cast in a lead role, in the detective series Tequila and Bonetti (1992), which again proved short-lived.

Are Mariska Hargitay and Kelli Giddish friends in real life? ›

Giddish also touched on how close she and Hargitay became while working together. “That relationship really developed organically over time into such a strong female relationship. And it wasn't like I came on the show 12 years ago and we were like, 'Hey, I'm going to be your best buddy,'” Giddish said.

Are Mariska and Chris a couple? ›

Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni have an incredible friendship. While fans are still hoping Hargitay and Meloni's Law & Order characters, Benson and Stabler, will get together romantically, in real life the TV icons have an almost sibling-like bond.

Why is Kelli Giddish forced to leave SVU? ›

Giddish leaving the series after 12 seasons was a surprise with little to indicate she wanted to leave the role she clearly enjoyed. According to the report, the issues involved salary disputes and a decision to “freshen up” the series.

Who replaced Olivia Benson on SVU? ›

Danielle Beck was portrayed by Connie Nielsen from 2006. Detective Danielle "Dani" Beck is Detective Olivia Benson's temporary replacement in season 8, while Benson is on an undercover assignment (Mariska Hargitay was on maternity leave).

Did Stabler confess his love to Benson? ›

At one point (while making eye contact with Benson), Stabler blurted, "I love you." He quickly processed his words, adding to the group, "I love all of you." Stabler later referenced those three words while leaving a voicemail for Benson in OC Season 2, Episode 4 ("For A Few Lekë More").

What happened to Stabler's son Eli? ›

In the Season Four penultimate episode, Elliot returned home to find Eli and his girlfriend, Becky (Kiaya Scott), who was introduced earlier in the season during a Stabler family dinner gone wrong. Eli informed his dad that he and Becky were leaving college and moving back to New York — together.

Did Stabler ever kiss Benson? ›

Many viewers thought their patience would be rewarded last year when an SVU promo for the episode "Blood Out" showed Benson holding Stabler's face and leaning in for a kiss — but when the episode finally arrived, there was no smooch in sight. Still, Hargitay hinted at a future for their relationship.

Is Mariska Hargitay still Catholic? ›

In a 2010 interview with Good Housekeeping, Hargitay stated that she considers herself a Christian.

How old was Mariska Hargitay when she had her first child? ›

Hargitay gave birth to her first child, August, at age 42, in 2006. She and Hermann then adopted Amaya and Andrew within six months of each other. In January 2024, she told PEOPLE that she is "so grateful that I'm an older mom." "I don't know if I could have handled it when I was younger,” she admitted.

Who is Mariska Hargitay with in real life? ›

Peter Hermann (actor)
Peter Hermann
OccupationActor
Years active1997–present
SpouseMariska Hargitay ​ ( m. 2004)​
Children3
3 more rows

Are Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay fighting? ›

Meloni reprised Stabler in April 2021 on the “SVU” episode “Return of the Prodigal Son,” before both Stabler and Benson crossed over to share the screen on the series premiere of the Stabler-led spinoff “Organized Crime.” But the truth is, all this time Hargitay and Meloni have remained BFFs — happily married to ...

Are Elliot and Olivia friends in real life? ›

The acting duo started playing Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: SVU when the show premiered in September 1999. After 13 seasons, Christopher departed from the show, however, he and his costar stayed close in real life.

Are the cast of Law and Order friends? ›

And after more than two decades on the air, the cast of the Dick Wolf-created police procedural has formed strong bonds both on- and off-camera.

Are Debra Messing and Mariska Hargitay friends? ›

Debra Messing talks her 14-year friendship with Mariska Hargitay: 'It was just instant love' It all started with a kid's birthday party. For over 10 years, Debra Messing and Mariska Hargitay have forged a touching friendship that's become a favorite amongst Hollywood BFFs.

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