Don’t you just hate it when your favorite shows end? And when you’ve invested years of your life into the characters, such a loss can feel devastating — which is why even the thought of Law & Order: SVU going off the air is enough to make any true fan shudder. But rejoice, y’all! Mariska Hargitay has good news for all of us.
Well, technically, NBC’s Robert Greenblatt kicked off the conversation that ultimately culminated in Hargitay’s happy revelation. When asked at a Paley Center event about the longevity of the series, Greenblatt basically put the ball in the court of SVU’s leading lady.
“Greenblatt says every year, NBC checks in with @mariska and she keeps saying she wants to continue @nbcsvu — and it will continue as long as she wants it to,” the Paley Center tweeted of Greenblatt’s comments.
— Paley Center (@paleycenter) June 5, 2018
And, praise be, the veteran actor — who’s already snagged an Emmy for her role as Lt. Olivia Benson — seems pretty darn content to stay put. That’s saying a lot considering the show is entering its impressive 20th season this fall. Upon hitting Season 20, it will officially tie Gunsmoke and the original Law & Order as the longest-running scripted live-action drama on TV.
Nearly two decades later, Hargitay admits she still isn’t tired of Benson yet.
“When you’re just in it, it’s hard to fully take in. So I’m just grateful for this role, for this part, for [Dick Wolf’s] vision and that I’ve gotten to mine a character for so long that is still deeply challenging to me and inspiring to me and necessary and timely, and I think truly changing the culture,” Hargitay told E! News.
Prior to the Season 19 premiere, the actor also shared that she has brought the role to life for so long that it genuinely feels like a part of her. “It’s deeply in me,” she explained. “I was just saying the other day, I don’t know anymore where Mariska ends and Olivia starts. They’re just becoming so enmeshed and entwined, and I think that’s a good thing.”
We couldn’t agree more! Like Benson, Hargitay spends much of her time advocating for women and children. She even founded a charity — the Joyful Heart Foundation — inspired by the subject matter on SVU, and she has been helping victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse through that organization since 2004.
So, the fundamental truth that everyone loves tuning in to watch Benson fight the good fight on TV each week isn’t the only reason we hope the show sticks around for many years to come. Hargitay is fostering important conversations and effecting great change using the show as a platform.
Happily, she sees her role through that lens, and accordingly, won’t soon give it up.
“You know what? Nineteen years later and I’m finding myself deeply inspired and committed and finding new places to go and challenged,” she told E! News. “I want to be challenged. As long as that’s happening, I’m very happy and fulfilled.”