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Ice-T and Law and Order: SVU Cast Honor Mariska Hargitay as the Series Approaches Its Milestone 400th Episode

Updated

The dedicated detectives of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit have been investigating vicious felonies for 18 seasons — and there’s been a lot of stories.

The captivating show is approaching a milestone 400th episode this season and the cast is taking the opportunity to celebrate!

At a party in New York on Wednesday night honoring lead actress Mariska Hargitay as the latest TV Guide Magazine cover star, the entire SVU cast came out to honor their costar and reflect on the legacy of the show.

And they had nothing but nice things to say about their benevolent leader.

“Mariska is just a really, sincerely nice person,” rapper and star of the show Ice-T told PEOPLE. “I’ve been with her for a long time and she’s really a nice person, she’s very compassionate. It’s wonderful to be around somebody who’s really nice. I’m very fortunate to have her as a costar.”

Kelli Giddish, who has played Detective Amanda Rollins since season 13, echoed the rapper’s remarks and said she admires Hargitay’s “huge heart,” adding that the actress behind serious detective Olivia Benson has a side to her that people don’t really know. “She is freaking hilarious, I don’t think anybody could ever guess how funny she is,” Giddish revealed. “But if you’re close to her, you get it real good because you get to kind of have a piece of her heart and it’s super sweet.”

With only three seasons under his belt, newcomer to the cast Peter Scanavino hasn’t had as much experience as the rest of his costars, but he too has only kind things to say about who Hargitay is: “She has a deep sensitivity. She’s a strong woman who’s deeply sensitive and empathetic and I think that allows her to see a lot of things from a lot of different viewpoints and that allows her to be very thoughtful, too. She’s a wonderful actress, but I think first and foremost, she’s a mom. I think when you have somebody who puts family first, that’s always great.”

Later in the night, the actress gave an emotional speech thanking her cast and crew for all of their hard work, as well as the love and friendship they bring to set. She later told PEOPLE that moments like those are the ones she cherishes most because she gets to take a step back and really appreciate the experience.

“Filming the show wasn’t emotional — I’m so focused and I have so much to do that when I’m working, I’m working,” Hargitay, 52, said. “But it’s actually moments like tonight when you’re forced to sort of take inventory that I get blown away. And tonight, in writing my remarks, is when I had to center myself and take it all in. It’s nights like tonight when I went, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe that this happened.’ “

Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays (10 p.m. ET) on NBC.