Law & Order: SVU has undergone lots of changes in the past couple of years, and star Mariska Hargitay said the long-running procedural feels like a new show.
Hargitay, who has played Detective Olivia Benson since the series premiered in 1999, told Today that she feels like the show has been made new again after 15 seasons.
“I think it’s been a journey,” she said. “I think the writing changes now that we have new showrunners. It feels to me like a different show now, which I think is a great thing. After 15 years the show feels so unbelievably fresh, and that’s a gift.”
Executive producer Neal Baer left SVU as showrunner at the end of season 12, the same season that also saw the departure of Christopher Meloni. Baer was replaced by former Law & Order: Criminal Intent executive producer and showrunner Warren Leight. The series has also seen the departure of Richard Belzer, who played John Munch, and Dann Florek, who played Captain Don Cragen.
The end of season 14 and the first half of season 15 found Benson kidnapped and tortured, and the second half of season 15 finds her dealing with the aftermath by going to court to face her abductor.
“I read this and I thought, this is one of the best scripts I’d ever read — so complicated and so painful,” Mariska Hargitay said. She also said that while the case will be closed, Benson won’t exactly have closure.
“It’s not that simple, I think,” she said. “What she went through I don’t know that she can recover from. It has changed her. She’s still fighting PTSD.”
Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb said they thought Hargitay could win another Emmy for her work this season. In November, Hargitay was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was placed right next to her mother’s. Jayne Mansfield earned her star in 1960.
“It was incredibly emotional,” Hargitay said. “It was surprisingly one of the most emotional and beautiful days I can remember. My mom got a star. All the photos that I’ve seen of her with my brother and my sister there, and there I was on that day with my with my brother and my sister. It was an incredibly bonding moment, and I felt very, very surprisingly close to my mom.”
Mansfield died in a car crash in 1967, when Hargitay was only three years old. At the unveiling of Hargitay’s star, Hillary Swank said she had one wish when it came to her lifelong friend.
“It would have been wonderful to meet her mom, who from the pictures we see, had the same bright light,” the Million Dollar Baby star said. “But it is so beautiful that today their two stars are shining together here on Hollywood Boulevard for the rest of time.”
Mariska Hargitay replied:
“The thing about our stars is they exist in constellations, they have more meaning together than they do alone, and the one that is most obvious to me is the constellation that I make with my mother. This very precious and very private and very public constellation of two is now a beautiful symbol of us together in this very special place.”
The second half of season 15 of Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesday at 9 pm on NBC.
[photo credit: Will Hart / NBC Universal]