For years, we watched detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson work side by side on Law & Order: SVU, and for years we watched their interactions ooze with sexual tension. Was it all just good acting on Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay’s part? Well, obviously yes — but Meloni recently revealed that the real reason Stabler and Benson had such strong chemistry onscreen is because Meloni and Hargitay had some pretty rockin’ chemistry offscreen, too.
“There’s a lot to be said for that when you’re working with someone for 16 hours a day, you better get along when the cameras aren’t rolling as well as when it is,” Meloni said in a recent appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, adding that he and Hargitay were constantly laughing and busting each other’s chops. “That was priceless, I think for both of us.”
Meloni also spoke about how Hargitay was an amazing acting partner. “She was always ready for anything new. There was always an unspoken shorthand to what we were doing. That makes it just so much easier,” Meloni said.
So if the chemistry was there for Meloni, Hargitay, Stabler and Benson, why didn’t Benson and Stabler ever hook up onscreen? Well, Meloni has the perfect answer for that one.
“That, I think, they always knew would be the death knell of that relationship,” Meloni said of producers choosing to keep romantic story lines between the detectives out of the picture. “I think they needed to keep that line taut — but very clear… keep the tension, never cross it.”