‘Law & Order: SVU’: Mariska Hargitay Reveals Why She Has Stayed on the Series

What would Law & Order: SVU be without Mariska Hargitay at the helm? She is known everywhere for her portrayal of Detective Olivia Benson on the hit series, and it’s hard to imagine the show without her. Benson starts off as Detective Elliot Stabler’s (Christopher Meloni) partner, but once he leaves, she takes the reins with ease, and has become the hallmark of the series.

Season 22 of ‘Law & Order: SVU’ will premiere soon

Mariska Hargitay
Mariska Hargitay | Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Season 22 of SVU will premiere next month, which still leaves it as the longest-running live-action series to date. Fans can expect to see Hargitay now as Captain along with the other detectives they’ve come to love, on Thursday, November 12 at 9 p.m. EST.

It’s an exciting prospect to catch back up with Benson and her trusty detectives. But it also leaves the question open as to why Mariska has stayed on the series for so long. She’s been there since the very beginning, making her an iconic part of the series itself.

Mariska Hargitay reveals why she has stayed on the series

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Hargitay spoke on the Today Show back in 2018, and she was asked why she stayed on the series, even though she probably would have a lot of opportunities elsewhere after achieving fame. Hargitay says it feels like she’s been on multiple shows because of the cast that has come and gone, as well as the new writers they’ve had over the years.

“You know, I stayed for so many reasons,” Hargitay revealed. “Number one, to be on a show for this long, and feel like you’ve been on three or four different shows, because as the cast changed, like when Chris left on came Kelli Giddish and Danny Pino, the show really changed. It takes on a different tone. And then we had new writers…”

Hargitay reveals that she feels “like the luckiest person” because of her “many different experiences” throughout the life of the series. “So the show, I feel like the luckiest person, the luckiest actress on the planet because I’ve had so many different experiences on one show…” she says.

From the beginning, Hargitay was receiving letters that were ‘a different kind of fan mail’

Hargitay made an appearance on The View in 2018, and she’s asked what she hears from fans, and Hargitay describes the “different kind of fan mail” she received when the show first came out. People were telling her their stories, and it was difficult because Hargitay didn’t know how to respond.

“I have been so blessed and when I started shooting the show, started getting a different kind of fan mail,” Hargitay revealed. “Most fan mail says you know, ‘I love your show, can I get an autographed photo.’ And early into the show, as soon as it started airing really, I started getting letters from survivors, disclosing their abuse, and many for the first time, and telling me, ‘I’ve never told this to anyone.’ But sharing their stories of assault and running the full gamut.” Hargitay says she “didn’t know how to respond.”

Hargitay’s response was to eventually start a foundation, called The Joyful Heart Foundation. It was created to help survivors heal and regain the joy that life can bring. Hargitay used her experience on the show and everything she had learned to help people.

It’s clear that Mariska Hargitay’s years on the show have changed her life in positive ways, and it’s safe to say that fans everywhere are glad she stayed on the series.