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.
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