‘Law & Order: SVU’: Mariska Hargitay Enlisted Brooke Shields To Play Noah’s Grandmother

It’s hard to imagine Brooke Shields playing a grandmother, but that’s just what she did on Law & Order: SVU. The role is all thanks to Mariska Hargitay, who convinced her friend to play the role of someone quite close to Hargitay’s character on the show, Olivia Benson.

Mariska Hargitay enlisted Brooke Shields to play Noah’s grandmother

Mariska Hargitay, Brooke Shields, and Ryan Buggle
Mariska Hargitay, Brooke Shields, and Ryan Buggle | Michael Parmelee/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

It turns out that Hargitay and Shields are good friends, and Hargitay even got her friend a unique role in the series. Hargitay appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers in 2017 where she revealed the conversation involved in getting Shields the role. Brooks plays Sheila Porter, the biological grandmother of Noah Porter-Benson, Benson’s adopted son.

Hargitay admits to Meyers that she enlisted Shields to be on the show after she saw Shields performing in Nightcap. “You know, I was at another friend of ours, Ali Wentworth has this fantastic show, and we were at a screening,” Hargitay says. “And Brooke was the guest star and was so brilliant, and so dark, and so funny. And so… funny. And so funny. And so beautiful and so powerful. And so funny.”

Hargitay had a role in mind, and it just so happened to be a role of a grandmother close to Benson. She was honest though, and told Shields it was a grandmother that she would be playing.

“And so when I saw her, I thought like, ‘She’s it.’ Because we had this character in mind to come you know, stir it up,” Hargitay continues. Seth Meyers says she’s “a grandmother,” and Benson says, “And that’s how I pitched her.”

So how did that conversation go? Hargitay didn’t sugarcoat it, and revealed to Shields that the role was for a grandmother, which sounds like it was sort of an unexpected detail about the role.

“No, but we were sitting there and I said, ‘Listen, this is an amazing part. Would you ever consider doing an arch on the show?’” Hargitay recealls. “And she said, ‘Oh wow. Are you serious?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ And I pitch her and said, ‘This is an incredible, powerful woman… And she’s the grandmother.’” Hargitay says Shields’ reply was, “‘I’m sorry, what?’ I said, ‘No, no, it’s the grandmother…But she was like, ‘I see how you are. Oh pitch the show and then go, grandmother,’”

After Shields took the part, Hargitay even played a little joke on her when she first got the pages for her lines, showing just how friendly the two are with each other.

“So, on the first day of her shooting, I redid the sides, which are the pages that you get when, you know, to learn your lines,” Hargitay continues. She recalls changing it from saying the character was in her “40s” to “early 70s” as a joke. The next day she changed it again to “early 30s,” which was kind of her.

Brooke Shields’ role put her at odds with Hargitay’s character on-screen

Mariska Hargitay and Brooke Shields
Mariska Hargitay and Brooke Shields | Fernando Leon/WireImage

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SVU fans may recall the tough situation Benson faced when Noah’s (Ryan Buggle) biological grandmother came into the mix. According to the show’s Fandom page for Noah, he is found in 2014 in the “motel room of child pornographers.” His mother, Ellie Porter (Emma Greenwell), is assaulted and killed after deciding to get clean and “testify against her pimp.” Benson is given temporary custody, but the biological father of Noah, Johnny Drake (Charles Halford), a sex trafficker, learns about him, and tries to get custody of him, but is shot and killed. Eventually Benson legally adopts Noah.

Shields’ character comes into Noah’s life and causes all sorts of problems. According to the Fandom page for Sheila, Benson and Sheila’s relationship is complicated and fluctuates over time, but it all comes to a head when Noah is kidnapped while out with Sheila looking for coats. However, she was the one who orchestrated the whole thing.

Olivia finds out where Noah might be, and finds him at Sheila’s sister’s cabin. Things get physical, and Sheila takes Benson’s gun. However, Sheila is eventually arrested, but the trauma Benson and Noah faced stays with them long after the events at the cabin.

The role Hargitay convinced Shields to play is a role like no other, and one that she truly outdid herself with.