Chris Meloni to Leave “SVU”?

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Chris Meloni's time at Law & Order: Special Victims Unit might be winding down.

According to Australian newspaper Courier-Mail, Meloni will take his final bow as Detective Eliot Stabler on the show in season twelve; production on that season begins later this year, with episodes running through spring 2011.

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Meloni, 48, has costarred in the NBC spinoff with Mariska Hargitay since it premiered in 1999.

"I think 12 years is enough, a good number," the actor is quoted as telling the Courier-Mail. Meloni isn't sure whether his character will live or die, either. "The writers will have fertile ground to figure out how to arc [Eliot] out to another place — whether it's this world or the next."

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Once he's off SVU, the star told the paper that he'd like to turn his attention to theater and "guerilla-style sleeper" movies.

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"It will be a very difficult transition," he admitted. "I mean, Jesus Christ, every day when you get used to getting up early and working these hours," he said.

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Hargitay, meanwhile, apparently tells the paper that she plans to stay after Meloni's departure. She wonders how her character, Detective Olivia Benson, will take the news. "I don't think she could be without him. She loves him, he's her other half," she said emotionally.

Reps for NBC and Meloni could not be reached for comment.

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