Mariska Hargitay Confirms the SVU Firing We *Never* Expected: ‘It’s a Sore Subject’

Mariska Hargitay Confirms the SVU Firing We *Never* Expected: ‘It’s a Sore Subject’

Law & Order: SVU

It’s been more than a year since her character left the Special Victims Unit, but viewers still have questions over why Kelli Giddish left SVU and what happened to Amanda Rollins in the first place.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit — also known as SVU — is NBC’s procedural drama series following the personal and professional lives of detectives at the New York Police Department’s 16th precinct’s Special Victims Unit, which investigates and prosecutes various sexually oriented crimes. The unit is lead by Olivia Benson, the Captain and Commanding Officer of the Manhattan Special Victims Unit. Giddish plays Amanda Rollins, a detective with the Manhattan special Victims Unit, who joined SVU in Season 13 and left in Season 24.

In an interview with Variety in December 2022, Giddish looked back at her time as Rollins on SVU, whom she played for more than a decade of her life. “I started playing her in my late 20s, so I’ve played her in three decades of my life, which is nuts. It’s insane,” she said. “This is a show unlike any other. Shows don’t last 12 years, much less getting to play a character. With playing someone as multi-faceted as Rollins, I got to play all kinds of different things — down and out, on top, joyful, doubtful, scared, triumphant. I got to do the gambit.”

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So why did Kelli Giddish leave SVU? Read on for the real reason Kelli Giddish left SVU and what happened to Amanda Rollins.

Why did Kelli Giddish leave SVU?

Amanda Rollins, SVU

Why did Kelli Giddish leave SVU? In an interview with Variety in May 2024, Mariska Hargitay, who plays Captain Olivia Benson, confirmed that Giddish was fired by creator and executive producer Dick Wolf prior to her exit at the end of Season 24. “Kelli is my favorite actor to work with,” Hargitay said. “Kelli is my heart. It’s a sore subject. I have a lot of say on the show, but I didn’t have enough there.”

Since her co-star’s exit, Hargitay, who is also an executive producer on SVU, revealed that she’s been campaigning for Giddish (and Rollins) to return to the series full time. “I don’t like not being listened to, especially when I’m right,” she said. “That relationship was one of the most powerful relationships in television because you saw these two badass women, so flawed and so there for each other.”

Giddish announced she was leaving SVU after Season 24 in August 2022. “I wanted to address the chatter I’ve seen online and let everyone know that this will, indeed, be my last season on Law & Order: SVU,” Giddish said in a statement at the time. “Playing Rollins has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life. I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of the Law & Order family for the last 12 years. There is simply no other character on TV like Rollins. She’s grown and changed, and I have as well. I started on this show when I was in my late 20s and I’m grateful I got to spend so many of my adult years with Rollins in my life.”

She continued, “I want to thank Dick Wolf, Mariska Hargitay, Warren Leight, Peter Jankowski, NBC, Universal Television, all of my co-stars, every single member on the crew and all the writers here for our incredible work together these last 12 years. I’m so excited to take all the things I have learned in my time on ‘SVU’ and put them toward everything that’s next to come.”

In an interview with Variety in December 2022, Giddish confirmed that she wanted to leave SVU before production started on Season 24, which saw Rollins and her husband, Assistant District Attorney Dominick “Sonny” Carisi Jr., get married. “Before the season started, this year. We worked on this storyline together, and I think the last episode culminated the beautiful Rollins and Benson relationship, and we got to see Carisi and Rollins get married, which was such a treat,” she said.

As for why else she left, Giddish told Variety that she just felt it was “time” to end Rollins’ storyline on SVU. “My side of things is just that it’s time in the Rollins storyline,” she said. “I felt like where it was heading, and where it headed last night, just seemed the right place to leave it right now. I am so excited about things going on in my personal life and kind of the mirroring of what’s going on in my personal life and in Rollins’, there’s a lot of joy to be experienced.”

Giddish’s exit also came after SVU showrunner David Graziano was accused of mistreatment toward women in a report by The Los Angeles Times. Gidish responded to the allegations in her interview with Variety. “It was alarming to read. My experience has always been positive on the set for all 12 years that I was there,” she said.

What happened to Amanda Rollins on SVU?

Amanda Rollins, SVU

What happened to Amanda Rollins on SVU? Rollins left Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in Season 24, Episode 9, “And a Trauma in a Pear Tree.” In the episode, Rollins and Assistant District Attorney Dominick “Sonny” Carisi Jr. got married with Rollins’ squad mates, Captain Olivia Benson, Detective Fin Tutola and Detective Joe Velasco as witnesses. The episode also saw Rollins tell Benson during their last case together that she was leaving the Special Victims Unit to become a professor. The conversation led to a fight between Rollins and Benson before the two reconciled and shared a hug while crying at the end of the episode. Rollins’ last scene on SVU saw her saying goodbye to Special Victims Unit as he squad mates clapped while she left.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in December 2022, Giddish revealed how she reacted to when she read Rollins’ ending on SVU for the first time. “It all started because she gets shot in the opening and they were like, ‘Listen, that’s gonna really put her life in perspective,’” he said. “She’s a mom and she’s got all this awesome stuff happening around her. And she kinda realizes like, ‘Wait, like why am I not off enjoying this?’ Why not just go and pursue this thing that is making you so happy? We’ve seen Rollins and Carisi just love and trust and respect each other so much and they’ve got this awesome little family with her two girls. It was such the right place to leave Rollins at that time.”

As for Giddish and Carisi’s wedding, Giddish told Entertainment Weekly that she thought fans “would’ve lost their s—” if Giddish and Carisi didn’t get married. “I was so happy for the fans. I loved the courtroom part where they actually were gonna say the vowels and watching their faces. And then when there’s any kind of big crowd or a lot of people in a scene, I get super uncomfortable. So I was like, ‘Please let this be over,’” she said. “So that part I wasn’t honestly crazy about, but the really sweet part, when they get to wake up in bed and that true intimacy you see between them, and the girls come and jump on the bed, and knowing that they’re going to say their vows to each other that day, that was my favorite part.”

Giddish also told Variety why it was so “emotional” for her to film her final scenes with Mariska Hargitay, who plays Olivia Benson. “It was very emotional. We had a ton of fun because acting with my girl is just fun,” she said. “There’s so much trust there, and you can play because we know each other so well. Nothing is set in stone, and if you want to try something, the writers are right there because they trust Mariska and I to kind of fine-tune the words of the script. It’s so much fun, there’s so much laughter and there were so many tears. It was a really beautiful experience.”

As for the last scene she filmed on SVU, Giddish confirmed to Variety that her final episode was filmed out of order. “It was in Carisi’s office. It was the one where he’s like, ‘You haven’t talked to Olivia, have you?’” she said of her last scene she filmed. “We did the scene in the bed, with my daughters, and then we moved to his office for two scenes. I begged and pleaded for especially Mariska not to do a big thing, no cake, any of that. So they said cut, I got to say thank you and bye to the crew, and then I left and raced home because it was Halloween to go trick-or-treating with my kid. I was like, ‘OK, that’s that, that job is done. What’s the next one?’”

Law & Order: SVU airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

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