October 23, 2006 12:00 PM

Connie Nielsen

The Gladiator star, 42, subs on NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for Mariska Hargitay, who was on maternity leave when this six-episode run was shot.

ON JOINING THE SHOW It was either do this or a little movie in Czechoslovakia. When I check into a hotel and put on the TV to take away the silence in the room, many times the only thing that doesn’t depress me is Law & Order, because it’s so well done.

ON TV’S FAST PACE Scary. They walk and talk very fast. I’m not exactly a walk-and-talk-fast person. I was scared I’d screw up a line when we’ve gone all the way down the corridor and have to go all the way back and do it over!

ON REDISCOVERING N.Y.C. I’ve lived here nine years, yet once I started shooting the show, I realized I didn’t really know New York. I got to see every side of it. What a wonderful thing to see street vendors in Harlem and how people live in Queens and Brooklyn.

ON HANDLING A GUN I’m the big bad girl! I’ve done it before in [movies]. I was with the NYPD at the shooting range—the guys were happily impressed with my skills.

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