Mariska Hargitay Talks SVU Character Olivia Benson

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Mariska Hargitay has spent the past 16 years of her life playing the character Detective Olivia Benson on the hugely popular show Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

We have watched her character grow throughout the years, and in anticipation of the new season appearing on Wednesday, Hargitay sat down with James Lipton for Inside the Actors Studio to talk about everything from the development of Benson to her former partner Christopher Meloni.

To prepare for her role, Benson revealed that she shadowed cops, and learned to shoot a gun like a professional. She had to get herself into the mindset of a detective, and that meant doing whatever she had to do, even viewing an autopsy.

For 12 seasons we saw Hargitay and Meloni develop a relationship that the fans came to love. However, Meloni decided to end his career as Detective Stabler just before season 13. Hargitay said she loved the time she got to spend acting with Meloni and praised him for being such a good actor.

"I'm so grateful for my time with him," she said. "I think Chris is incapable of lying. He is a truth-teller; he's committed to the truth at all costs. I loved his passion and commitment…He made me better and I love him. I loved acting with him and I love him as a person."

Season 16 of Law and Order: SVU airs on Wednesday, September 24, and Hargitay says she is excited to find out what is in store for her character. "I love her more now than ever...I love her because I am challenged by her," Hargitay said. "I never know what's going to happen. She surprises me. [Warren Leight, showrunner] surprises me. This character has evolved, which is the most exciting part of it. I feel in many ways she's a new character because she's gone through so much that has truly transformed her."