Mariska Hargitay is opening up on losing a crucial part of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
The actress who plays Olivia Benson spoke about Kelli Giddish leaving the series after 12 seasons as Amanda Rollins.
Hargitay shared her thoughts on Giddish’s departure and how the exit of Rollins will affect Benson’s journey on the show.
Hargitay also shared how Season 24 will focus on Benson facing her past trauma and trying to cope.
The character will kick off the year with the epic crossover between the Law & Order shows before focusing on the typical “ripped from the headlines” cases.
As she adjusts to a new dynamic without a key part of her squad, Hargitay is ready for another year of showing viewers just what makes Olivia Benson tick.
Mariska Hargitay on Kelli Giddish’s exit
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fans are still adjusting to the news that Kelli Giddish will leave the series after 12 seasons as Amanda Rollins.
While rumors circulate that this was not Giddish’s decision, but rather she was pushed out by the producers, several of her cast mates have spoken about it.
Both Ice-T and Octavio Pisano shared their feelings on Giddish’s departure. Now, the main star of the SVU team is joining in.
“Oh god, Kelli. I love Kelli, she’s my girl. She is one of my favorite actors that I’ve ever worked with and we got to build something really beautiful together and really earned together because our characters had quite a journey. It wasn’t so easy at the beginning and then we just fell into this beautiful safety, trust. That was a hard one. I will miss that because she was my go-to, my right hand, the woman that I could talk to.”
Hargitay shared this will shake up Benson as she hates to lose the only other woman on the SVU squad.
“Benson’s out there taking care of everyone else and she was somebody that really took care of me and had my back. Even though Fin has my back and Stabler has my back, it’s different to have a woman have your back because it’s a different perspective.”
Hargitay did not speak on the reports that Giddish was pushed out of the show but said, “I’m gonna miss her a lot, but she’s a lifelong friend and I’m just glad that our paths crossed, and I know they’ll continue to cross.”
Rollins’ departure is only one of several turns for Benson in Season 24.
Hargitay on approaching Benson’s trauma
Episode 2 of Season 24 will introduce Detective Grace Muncy (Molly Burnett), who Benson takes under her wing as a possible new member of the SVU team.
The year will also have Benson facing some of the trauma from her years on this job, including a few kidnappings and injuries. That won’t push her to retirement, but Hargitay told The Today Show how it would change Benson’s attitude.
“I think that because Olivia and so many of the characters on our show have been through so much trauma, I really wanted to delve into that a little more. And we have this idea that, ‘The strong woman, she just deals with it,’ but the way somebody is strong is to be comfortable in their vulnerability. And so I wanted to sort of take this, kind of the word is, take this idea that people are like, ‘Oh, they’re just strong, and they just come out strong.’ Real strength has to do with feeling the feelings, dealing with them and moving through them,
Hargitay hopes that Benson facing her problems will “model” for people that “we don’t have to be so scared of things that have happened — that healing is possible if we face them and if we have the courage. So dealing with that, and this idea, in fact, that the only way out is through.”
As Season 24 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is about to begin, Benson seems ready to face some of her past problems while bidding goodbye to a familiar face.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 24 premieres Thursday at 9/8c on NBC.