Olivia Benson was first brought to life by actress Mariska Hargitay 16 years ago on the hugely successful show Law & Order: SVU, and as Hargitay heads into a new season of the show, she’s opening up about what Benson has been through and what it takes to portray such a strong character.
Hargitay sat down for an interview on Inside The Actor’s Studio recently and said that getting ready for the role meant she had to learn physical things, like shooting a gun, but it also meant she had to train her mind to work like that of the character’s…which means she can spot a pickpocket in a crowd like a champ. She also had to view an autopsy, which she says was tough, but necessary.
The actress also opened up about her costar Christopher Meloni, who left the show a few seasons ago. The pair made a hot onscreen duo, but their chemistry was only part of what made the show such a huge hit.
“I’m so grateful for my time with him. 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,” she said.
Hargitay’s character had to battle some demons last season, when she faced down the man who kidnapped and tortured her in court. But, she says, it was important for her to let fans of the show know that victims of even the most heinous crimes can find strength within themselves.
“[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. 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 told Today.