‘Law & Order SVU’: How Mariska Hargitay Really Feels About Olivia Benson

Mariska Hargitay has been playing the character Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU since 1999. Here’s how she really feels about Olivia.

Mariska Hargitay’s favorite thing about working on ‘Law & Order: SVU’

Mariska Hargitay |  Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Mariska Hargitay | Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

During an interview with USA Network, Hargitay says her favorite thing about working on Law & Order: SVU is pretty much everything. She says it feels good to know she’s doing work that makes a difference in the lives of others.

“I get to do every day what I love to do,” says Hargitay. “I like to make the world seem a little smaller, a little safer, a little more full of love, a little more full of compassion, empathy, kindness, and justice.”

How Mariska Hargitay feels about Olivia Benson

Even after more than 20 years, Hargitay says she still feels challenged by her role as Olivia Benson. “The subject matter lends itself to a certain integrity and you want to give those stories incredible honor because they’re somebody’s stories,” Hargitay told USA Network. “I’m still being pushed outside my comfort zone constantly, which I think is where all greatness comes from. I’m constantly still scared. People go, ‘Really, you’re still scared?’ And I go, ‘Absolutely.’”

Hargitay says Olivia Benson is someone you would want by your side if you ever needed help. Although the actor describes Olivia as a “mama bear,” she says the character also has a tough side.  

“For the same reason that the show resonates for so many people in that it’s more than a TV show, I think that our viewers really look at it as also a path to healing,” Hargitay continued. “Olivia Benson is a compassionate, empathetic, justice-seeking, mama bear, bad-ass that you want on your side and you know will listen to you and give you the love and respect that every person deserves.”

Mariska Hargitay’s proudest moment on ‘Law & Order: SVU’

Hargitay tells USA Network she’s touched when survivors reach out to her and tell her how much her role on Law & Order: SVU has helped them.

“I have to say my proudest moments are those of connecting with survivors and hearing from them,” says Hargitay. “I’ve had survivors come forward and say to me that Joyful Heart or SVU is the reason that they reported. Those are the moments that I am so grateful that I get to be sitting in this chair in this role and I’ve been part of somebody’s journey toward healing.”

Hargitay also says SVU is an important show because it addresses issues that were rarely spoken about. She says bringing these topics to television made it easier for people to engage in discussions they likely would have been afraid to initiate.

SVU has been such a brave show, talking about issues that were swept under the carpet for so long,” says Hargitay. “Having it on television, having it be something you could discuss at the water cooler the next day absolutely changed the conversation and I think ignited it in such a profound way.”

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