Mariska Hargitay Thought She ‘Should’ Kiss Christopher Meloni in That Intense SVU Scene: ‘Our Chemistry is Undeniable’

Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni know what the fans want from their characters — and they want it, too.

A romance has long been teased between Captain Olivia Benson (Hargitay) and Detective Elliot Stabler (Meloni), and, following the death of Stabler’s wife upon his return to Law & Order: SVU in season 22, things have seemingly escalated between the partners. However, fans are still waiting to see them share a long-awaited kiss.

A promo for a season 24 episode airing last year brought Benson and Stabler as close as they’ve come so far to locking lips, teasing fans with an emotional moment. But even that didn’t close the deal for the characters, despite Hargitay, 60, and Meloni, 63, thinking it should have.

“To be honest with you, Chris and I thought it should go one way and the powers that be didn’t, so it got changed at the last minute, that near kiss,” she told Variety of the moment, which creator Dick Wolf “didn’t want.”

Christopher Meloni Upcoming Apparent Lip-Lock with SVU Costar Mariska Hargitay

“Our chemistry is undeniable,” she said of her and Meloni’s characters. “It’s just the way it is.”

Hargitay admitted that she and Meloni “want to hold the tension and do what’s right and truthful for both characters,” who have been partners in the Manhattan Special Victims Unit for over a decade.

Meloni has yet to make an appearance in season 25 thus far. However, Hargitay teased: “I don’t see why that wouldn’t happen or couldn’t happen. I think that we’re sort of irrevocably locked.”

The pair’s near-kiss scene came after Hargitay’s Benson told Meloni’s Stabler she knew he’d “try to protect” her following a gang attack against her and her son, and he asked, “Is there something wrong with that? I care for you.”

He moved in closer, telling her, “Liv, look at me,” and they touched foreheads as Stabler leaned in to kiss her.

Benson pulled away at the last second, telling her partner, “Elliot, I want to — I want to. But I can’t.”

Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson, Christopher Meloni as Det. Elliot Stabler, LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT

“Why not?” Stabler asked, prompting Benson to share her concerns about things not working out between them.

“Elliot, I’m not ready for this,” she said, repeating the statement several times: “I’m not ready for this.”

Appearing on the Today show after the episode aired, Hargitay said that she and Meloni “want to make sure and get it right” between their characters.
“The good news is we are so comfortable around each other, it was effortless and fun and we trust each other, it was beautiful that way. We just focused on the work.”

Their dynamic is “intense,” Hargitay told PEOPLE in January. “It’s intimate, and it’s reassuring.”

She also described their chemistry as “easy, effortless and earned” as she reflected on her more than two decades of friendship with the actor. “We met and the rest is history. It’s iconic. [He’s] somebody who’s changed my life so much, somebody I love,” she added.

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