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Mariska Hargitay: SVU Is A Different Show Now

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Last night, the final episode of the “Save Benson” saga aired on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. If you will recall, during the season 15 premiere, Olivia Benson [Mariska Hargitay] was kidnapped and tortured for days by William Lewis [Pablo Schreiber]. During the January 8 episode, Olivia must face William in the court of law.

Hargitay recently sat down with NBC’s Today and talked about why it was important for Olivia to face her attacker.

“[A] lot of time people sort of put Benson up on a pedestal, right? Because they think she’s so strong, ‘I wish I could be like that.’ A lot of this is sort of Joyful Heart-induced and I always say, ‘She’s not so strong.’ We can’t define ourselves by an event. That’s something that happened to you,” Hargitay said. “I think it was important for her to face him again because she can, and victims, I feel, need to sometimes be reminded of their own inner strength. That’s what I wanted to do.”

“Yes, it’s a struggle,” she continued. “I couldn’t take any of the advice I’ve been giving people all these years because it’s different once you’re in it and it just shows how hard it is and how courageous she is. But that’s what I love about her, it’s not that it’s not hard, it’s that we feel the fear and we do it anyway and we fight through. And she is a fighter, even at all odds. He was in her head; she didn’t know that she could do it. Plus, she’s battling a moral issue, which is she’s under oath, that’s her badge. It’s her honor. For me, I found the story so compelling, I thought it was even better than the season premiere.”

Hargitay has been playing detective Olivia Benson for 15 seasons now, and she says it has been an incredible journey. “I think it’s been a journey. I think the writing changes now that we have new showrunners,” she explained. “It feels to me like a different show now, which I think is a great thing. After 15 years, the show feels so unbelievably fresh, and that’s a gift.”

Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on NBC.

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Mariska Hargitay: SVU Is A Different Show Now
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