How Many Languages Does Mariska Hargitay Really Speak?

How Many Languages Does Mariska Hargitay Really Speak?


Mariska Hargitay is best known for her iconic role as Detective Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” As Benson, Hargitay portrays a smart, capable, and empathetic police officer who adeptly combines instinct with finely honed skills to solve cases. Whether she’s connecting with a victim or chasing down a criminal, Benson’s prowess is undeniable.

In reality, Hargitay embodies much of Benson’s persona. Fans often feel a deep connection to Hargitay through her portrayal of Benson. The real Hargitay is also caring, intelligent, and highly skilled. One remarkable trait that both the fictional Benson and the real Hargitay share is their multilingualism, a talent that the detective frequently showcases on the show.

Detective Benson Speaks Multiple Languages on the Show

On “Law & Order: SVU,” Detective Benson often speaks various languages, including Spanish and Italian, to communicate with non-English-speaking victims and suspects. Hargitay draws on her own language skills for these scenes, adding depth and authenticity to her character.

Hargitay’s Real-Life Talents Shape Benson’s Character

Hargitay’s real-life abilities not only enhance Benson’s role but Benson’s story has also significantly impacted Hargitay’s personal life. In an interview on The View, Hargitay became emotional as she shared how fans began writing to her about their own assaults, inspiring her to take action. This led her to establish the Joyful Heart Foundation, which supports healing for victims of sexual assault.

Multilingualism Runs in the Family

Hargitay’s linguistic talents are a family trait. Her famous mother, Jayne Mansfield, was known for her intelligence and multilingualism. Mansfield, who tragically died when Hargitay was just three years old, was fluent in five languages: English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian. Despite being best known as a glamorous sex symbol and Playboy playmate, Mansfield had a 160 IQ, played the violin, and was a devoted mother to five children.

Hargitay honors her mother’s legacy by mastering multiple languages herself, including Hungarian, French, Spanish, and Italian. She credits her time spent in Hungary and Italy with her Hungarian father for her language skills.

Raising a Multilingual Family

Hargitay and her husband, actor Peter Hermann, are raising their children in a multilingual household. Hermann often speaks to their children in German, fostering their linguistic development. “I want them to be multilingual,” Hargitay says, believing that growing up surrounded by different languages will give her children a strong start in their own language journeys.

The Intersection of Life and Art

With so much overlap between Hargitay’s real-life talents and her portrayal of Detective Benson, it’s hard to say which influences the other more. As Hargitay prepares for the 21st season of “Law & Order: SVU,” it’s clear that her life and art have seamlessly merged, creating a beloved character and a respected actress who continues to captivate and inspire fans.


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