Mariska Hargitay: 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' Star Could Be Planning To Move Behind The Camera

Mariska Hargitay has made a career out of playing detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but now she may have a new show business path in mind.

The actress has committed 16 years to the NBC police procedural drama, but in recent years has started to slowly move behind the camera. Last year she made her directing debut in a Law & Order episode called "Criminal Stories" that centered on the rape of a Muslim woman investigated as a hate crime.

In an interview with TVDRAMA, Hargitay said directing has been a lifelong ambition.

"It was thrilling for me. It's something I wanted to do for a long time and something that in some ways felt extremely familiar and was a completely natural fit. I was panting, Let me get in there! Let me get in there! And in other ways it was extremely challenging and I'd think, Oh, I didn't know about this! It was invigorating and thrilling and part of it was that I've done this for so long, I wanted to try something else. Sometimes I get so invested in the acting and the story that I know, because I've been acting for so long, that I can help push it to a new level. There are things we know that we can do and then there are things we don't know that we can do, but we try because we want to stretch ourselves. But it was thrilling."
There had been uncertainty over whether Mariska Hargitay would return for the 15th season of the show, but now she has completed work on the 16th.

Hargitay said she wants to direct more, but for now appears to be committed to splitting her time behind the camera and in front of it. Hargitay said she is happy with the way the Olivia Benson character has evolved.

"I love her because I am challenged by her. I never know what's going to happen. She surprises me. This character has evolved, which is the most exciting part of it. In many ways I feel that it's a new character because she has gone through so much that has truly transformed her and she sees things differently. She's getting new opportunities with what happened last year. This dark thing that happened [the kidnapping] changed her, and now she's been given this gift of light and love and possibility and something that fills her so deeply and yet scares her beyond fear. They say when you are a parent your heart goes from inside to outside. She is just trying to figure it out. I've got all these new notes to play. This show has a different tone now and it feels new. After last year, even though in many ways I felt like we kind of peaked, now I'm feeling like we haven't and there is so much more story to tell."
If Mariska Hargitay were to leave Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, it certainly wouldn't be due to the show going off the air. Ratings remain strong after 16 seasons, and NBC just picked up the show for a 17th season as well.

[Image via NBC]