Mariska Hargitay Explains Why She Could Not Watch Law & Order: SVU’s 500th Episode

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Mariska Hargitay in ‘Law and Order Special Victims Unit.’ Universal Tv/Kobal/Shutterstock

A milestone she’s not ready to relive. Mariska Hargitay has hit a benchmark that few TV stars ever dream of as her show, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, airs its 500th episode, but she has her reasons for not tuning in.

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“They sent me the link so many times and I was actually too nervous to watch it,” the actress, 57, confessed during her Wednesday, October 20, appearance on Live With Kelly and Ryan.

Hargitay knows her character inside and out after playing her for 23 seasons, but the gravity of shooting such a monumental episode weighed on her. “Obviously I’ve been doing this show for so long and Olivia Benson is in me, but I think that the idea of the 500th episode was so much pressure or something on me,” she shared. “And I was so nervous coming to work this day.”

Mariska Hargitay Why I Couldnt Watch Law Order SVUs 500th Episode
Mariska Hargitay and Dick Wolf. Virginia Sherwood/NBC

The Emmy winner has starred on the NBC drama since its series premiere in September 1999. SVU became the longest-running primetime U.S. live-action show ever in September 2019.

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Hargitay reflected on “the grind” of making the series. “It’s a marathon and you’re on the hamster wheel of lines, lines, lines, lines, lines, cuts, cuts, cuts, edits, new script,” she said. “Some episodes aren’t quite as difficult, but for me, this was sort of like this moment to take in what we’ve made, what we’ve created.”

“The Five Hundredth Episode,” which will air on Thursday, October 21, marks the return of Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) as he asks the unit for help in clearing a convicted man’s name and brings a familiar face from Benson’s past back into her life.

NBC renewed SVU for an additional three years in February 2020, taking the hit drama into at least season 24. Hargitay has spoken about her commitment to the project on multiple occasions.

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“I’m in it for the long haul,” she explained during a Paley Center panel in June 2018. “I said, ‘You keep writing like this, I’ll stay for 25 years.’ Why would I leave? I’m so grateful.”

Hargitay told The Hollywood Reporter in September 2019 that she takes her decision to remain on the show “year by year,” adding, “When I’m done, I’ll know it. When I’m like, ‘OK, there’s no more to mine here and now I’m phoning it in and I’ve got to go.’ But I’m not yet. I still get nervous, still get super excited.”

When the time does come to hand over her badge, the ER alum already knows how she wants the show to end. “With Olivia finding real peace and balance and love,” she told TV Insider in September 2018. “She’s given so much to others that I want her, as she has fought for other people, to fight for herself.”

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit airs on NBC Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.

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