Law & Order: SVU’s Dann Florek Says Watching Mariska Hargitay Lead Is a ‘Beautiful Passing of the Baton’

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’s Dann Florek can’t help but get choked up reflecting on just how much Mariska Hargitay has grown over the years.

PEOPLE caught up with the actor, who played SVU captain Donald Cragen for 15 seasons on the NBC drama, at Tuesday’s Law & Order: SVU’s 25th anniversary celebration in New York City.

Dann Florek 01 16 24 SVU New york Taking stock of the leadership roles Hargitay, 59, and her character Olivia Benson have stepped into over the past two and a half decades, Florek told PEOPLE: “It’s a beautiful passing of the baton.”

He recalls of his return in front of the camera after exiting the show in 2014: “I got to do one little scene, I think I shot it on Zoom, and I was able to say to her — I’m gonna cry — ‘You have no idea how proud it makes me to say “Captain.”‘”

The scene Florek referenced was part of SVU’s 500th episode, when Cragen appeared in a FaceTime with Benson as she tried to re-solve a case from earlier in her career. The former captain ended the quick call with that exact aforementioned line, making sure Benson knew just how much she has meant to him.

Dann Florek Mariska Hargitay SVU 01 16 24 New York

The feelings of admiration are mutual, both on screen and off, as Hargitay thanked Florek by name in her remarks at Tuesday’s celebration.

During the carpet, Florek was busy greeting old friends with hugs and laughter, including none other than another SVU mainstay Ice-T.

“Some people have been telling me I’m like the OG of the show, but that’s the OG right there,” said Florek, 71, with a laugh as he pointed to the rapper–turned–actor, 65. “But having been there from the very beginning? When I started SVU, a lot of people said is there room for two Law & Orders? Well, we made it past that. Then I said, I hope we can make five [years]. Then I made 15 [years] and here we are for 25. It’s crazy but good. Crazy because it should be.”

ICE T SVU new york 01 16 24

As for why Florek thinks the series has been able to stand the test of time, he credits the show’s content, and the people who work tirelessly on it.

“It’s smart. It’s great stories. It’s entertainment first, but it’s educational, it’s enlightening, it’s empowering,” he explained. “On the way at the airport today, I was stopped again and this has happened the entire time. People said, ‘As a family, we don’t do all that much together, but we watch SVU and then we discuss it’ — and all around the country, you know, they get on the phone and do it. How good is that?”

He noted, “I haven’t heard that about a lot of other shows. It’s honest, it’s challenging, but it’s smart and it treats the audience with respect.”

Related Posts

Our Privacy policy - © 2024 News