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We live in a weird time for television, where a lot of Netflix and network programming only makes it a couple of seasons before getting the axe. Alternatively, at the same time there are a slew of long-running TV programs that have made it well over the decade mark. One of those is Law & Order: SVU, a series that has made it to Season 17 likely thanks to Mariska Hargitay sticking with the drama over the long haul. Even she wasn’t always sure it was a good idea, however.
In fact, Hargitay has opened up about how she was ready to quit Law & Order: SVU, but ultimately changed her mind. The actress says it took “soul-searching” to get to the point where she felt like continuing was a good idea. Per Mariska Hargitay:
I did a lot of soul-searching of whether I wanted to go on. I was on my way to being at peace to be done… I feel so newly challenged and inspired and excited, which just surprises me. I can’t believe how much I care now.
The SVU star also said that it was actually Christopher Meloni’s departure back in Season 12 that got her thinking about her own exit from the Law & Order franchise. It’s been years since Meloni left the drama to pursue other roles, yet SVU just keeps on trucking. Soon, Mariska Hargitay will star in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 21, which will hit the schedule this fall. Although it should be noted, the series will be losing one actor, Phillip Winchester, ahead of the new season.
The original Law & Order ran for 20 seasons on NBC before getting cancelled. The 2019-2020 season will cement SVU as the longest-running show in the franchise this fall.
During her conversation with People, Mariska Hargitay also says NBC and Law & Order: SVU have worked to keep her motivated and excited for her job. For example, she started directing episodes of the procedural and the show still continues to deliver plotlines that surprise her. Plus, there are other unique opportunities that come with playing such a well-known character, including an SNL opp.
All of a sudden, in a time when you think we’ve done it all, I should be like, ‘Bring her back to the barn, baby.’ I am so invigorated by the unknown. I’m as invested as [SVU creator] Dick Wolf in the milestone. But newly, for some reason.
Of course, Hargitay also admits that sometimes she can do certain types of scenes “in her sleep,” but everyone has moments at their respective jobs that are like that. Mariska Hargitay is no exception, she just has a cooler job than most playing Detective Olivia Benson. And it sounds like that job could continue for a while, as the actress has said she wouldn't mind sticking around Law & Order: SVU until at least the 25-year mark.
Now, let’s just see if Law & Order: Special Victims Unit ever manages to bring back Christopher Meloni’s Elliot Stabler for a guest starring stint.