‘Law & Order SVU’: Mariska Hargitay Was Surprised Chris Meloni Improvised This Scene

Mariska Hargitay revealed how she and Chris Meloni’s first intimate interaction came about on ‘Law & Order SVU’.
Chris Meloni posing alongside Mariska Hargitay the Gotham and Hamptons Magazines Celebration with Cover Star.

How Mariska Hargitay reacted to this unscripted ‘Law & Order SVU’ scene

Chris Meloni staring at Mariska Hargitay at the Annual White House Correspondent's Dinner.Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni | Evan Agostini/Getty Images

In a very recent interview with Vanity Fair, Hargitay touched on her heavily praised work in Law & Order SVU. She also couldn’t help but gush about her work with Meloni. They found a quick connection as the duo Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler that led to one of television’s most iconic partnerships.

“I think Chris and I, Benson and Stabler, at the end of the day, it’s all the same,” she said. “In the relationship, whether it was acting or being partners, there was a level of trust. If I had, like, six dots and this was him and this was me, and then you connect the dots, they connected in so many ways: acting partners, friends, comedians, people that hold each other accountable. We almost had our own language. I mean, here we were for these 12 years, and we spent more time with each other than our spouses. All day we were making this thing together, all day long that we built together, that we created together.”

In the show’s earlier seasons, there was one SVU scene that stood out to Hargitay. It was a sequence where Stabler hugged Benson for the first time.

“If I’m correct, I think that’s the first time we ever hugged on the show,” she said. “And he surprised me with it, and it was so right. And in that scene, I think it’s somewhere where you can really feel everything unspoken, almost more than the spoken word.”

“Chris and I were very careful and very judicious [about] the way we interacted physically [on screen],” she added.

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Meloni and Hargitay didn’t know each other before they screen tested for SVU. But afterwards, the pair bonded very quickly.

“I walked in, saw him, and I went, ‘That guy. That’s the guy.’ It went deep, very fast. We both knew that it was something big,” Hargitay told People not too long ago. “I won’t say that I fully understood it, but I knew that meeting him was important and life-changing. My father, my husband, [Law & Order creator] Dick Wolf and Chris are the four pillar men in my life. And that happened early.”

For Meloni, he was also able to pinpoint the exact moment he knew he and Hargitay would form something special.

“You know, all the actors who screen-tested were great. But – and this is one of the rare moments when I walked in with Mariska. First of all, we were walking down the hall, and I was telling her joke, telling her a story that was a funny story. And we walked into the room with all the suits and, you know, all the decision-makers. And I said, hold on guys; let me just finish this story. And from that – and – the hutzpah – I thought about it afterwards. But that was the idea. You guys will hold on ’cause we got control of the room. We’re in here, and we got control of everything. We’re going to control this scene and our characters,” Meloni once said according to npr. “And it was pretty obvious. Even though I hadn’t seen what the others had done, I just – I walked out of that room going, wow, that was it.”

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