Mariska Hargitay: SVU Season Premiere Tests Emotions

    January 8, 2014
    Kimberly Ripley
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Mariska Hargitay talked a couple of months back with Katie Couric about her role on Law & Order: SVU, and she even answered some fan questions. Hargitay stars as Detective Olivia Benson for her 15th season of the hit NBC show when it premieres on Wednesday.

Old wounds are opened as the season starts, and Hargitay found this emotionally taxing. As Olivia Benson meets her attacker from season 14 (played by Pablo Schreiber) she must once again relive her harrowing hostage situation. Hargitay explains why meeting her perpetrator again was important for Olivia.

“[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,” she explained during an interview with Matt Lauer on The TODAY Show.

“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,” she said. “Yes, it’s a struggle. 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 then explained how emotionally difficult this rehashing of her kidnapping was for her.

“I couldn’t sleep before the night we shot the courtroom scene. I was so scared. Scared as an actor, just hoping it was going to be good, and then scared because I knew where I had to go,” she said. “It was like double, you’re scared because you want it to be good because the premiere was so good and I wanted to make it as raw and truthful and frightening and nuanced on different levels as it was.”

It’s not all emotionally harrowing scenes on the set of SVU, however. Mariska posted a link to a YouTube video just hours ago that features the cast in a spoof called Special Family Unit.

There aren’t many TV actors who are quite the caliber of Mariska Hargitay. For fifteen seasons she has entertained in her role of Detective Olivia Benson, and yet during none of those seasons has she become predictable or boring. Fans no doubt hope she’ll continue on in her role for many seasons to come.

Tune in Wednesday night on NBC for the season premiere of Law & Order: SVU.

Image via Wikimedia

  • Mimi Mayer

    I think Mariska is brilliant and makes the work she does seem effortless and seamless. That kind of simplicity takes enormous skill to do and is not often seen in a performer. Her ability to stay true to the character after all these years continues to astound me. I am definitely an admirer of her work and appreciate the thought and effort that she puts in, season after season. Thank you, Mariska. Thank you cast and crew of the L&O series (all of them), and thank you, Mr. Dick Wolf. Thank you!

  • Carol Breidenbach

    I watched SVU tonight and it was mesmerizing…it was marvelous and a cliff hanger…she did a fabulous job and I can’t wait til next week…what a wonderful show and the writing is marvelous.

  • Mary H

    I never liked the show after Elliot left

  • http://yahoo Lucy Johnson

    I’ve watched pretty much all the law and order; SVU, because I would want to know what to do in a situation that they have in they’re tv shows, because I think it helps a lot of people to deal with the problems that they have encountered in their own day to day life. Olivia Benson is a very brave women who overcame her own rape situation & entails that with her own portray as a SVU rape victim. It let’s other people in real life what they can DO TO OVERCOME THAT TRAGEDY TO THEIR OWN ADVANTAGE AT TIMES. That’s what I think & hope it helps some young women [or some person to hopefully deal with their situation).

  • Yankee57

    I Understand the Need for Ratings and Selling Ad Time but I Think that it was Despicable to Re-Live This Horrible Event for the sake of Money !

  • Patricia C

    I have watched the show, Law & Order:SUV since its beginning. Having Olivia experience a kidnapping and the aftermath of this has been extremely important to viewers, to understand the physical and mental pain of victims. It is commendable that Dick Wolf and his team of writers,have given women an opportunity to deal with this kind of pain and that it is possible to survive. Having Olivia going to a therapist has helped me personal and I believe that it will help others. Mariska has proved, she is an outstanding actress. Thank you for showing that victims can become survivors over the years.

  • Katy Wynne

    My only problem with this episode is that not one single character acted with the integrity we’ve come to expect. That at the most elemental level of their souls and intentions, they would do the right thing. Sadly, in this ep, they all skirted or flouted the law in an attempt to justify the end. And then we see at the close of the ep that there IS no end to this. The fact that the writer(s)/producers gave the suspect/defense lawyer more “latitude” than any rational judge or prosecutor would EVER have allowed, and the whole episode, and the show as a whole, really lost my respect last night. C’mon, SVU, we don’t need to see any more victimization of women via the regular cast. But I know those eps have already been shot anyway. Sad.

  • andrea

    The show was awesome last night. It was so real, I wanted to jump through the screen and punch the living daylights out of that guy. what great acting by both of them. that’s what makes for a great show, believable characters, and a great storyline. Here’s a concept for those leaving bad comments about the show here…..if you don’t like the show or storyline, don’t watch it!

  • njhntr

    Watched last night and wife was at a point where she couldnt watch the screen .
    She was upset and bith of us couldnt stop thinking about how good the acting was.
    Who was the guy? He and Benson played parts perfectly

  • Jean Ann Terrell

    Saw the show last night and found it riveting! Such superb acting and mind blowing scenes! It was if you were in that courtroom and you wanted to kill the Defendant! Marisa was AWESOME having to rehash her ordeal with this madman! Wonderful show NBC! :)

  • Lynn

    I thought the show was riveting. As usual, Mariska was terrific, and I also thought the villain (and I wish I knew his name)matched her performance in intensity. Can’t wait for next week.!