Ice-T says his Law & Order: SVU costar is resilient – and recovering
Credit: Duffy-Marie Arnoult/WireImage

Law & Order: SVU star Ice-T was surprised to hear that his costar, Mariska Hargitay, was re-hospitalized Tuesday night after she had returned to the set so quickly – less than a month – after undergoing surgery in January for a partially collapsed lung.

On Monday, the actress’s rep issued a statement saying, “Mariska is recovering well and is expected to return to SVU in the next couple of weeks.”

But Ice-T expects his costar to be back in filming shape soon. “When she came back last time it was like nothing ever happened. She’s very resilient. This woman is a hard worker; she works 14 hours a day. I don’t know what you know about episodic drama television, but it’s like a movie that never ends,” the Grammy-winning rapper and actor, 51, told PEOPLE Thursday at the VH1 Save the Music Foundation event, co-sponsored by LG Mobile Phones.

On the topic of Hargitay, 45, Ice-T cited her desire to downplay any hardships she might be facing. “Mariska is the type of woman that if you walk up and say, ‘How are you?’ She’s almost like a guy and is like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m all right.’

“It’s almost as if you insult her. She doesn’t want you to feel sorry for her, she’s like, ‘I’m on my feet.’ “

In the meantime – although Ice-T’s been told Hargitay is “doing okay” – “My personal thought is she just needs to take a little time and rest,” he says. “I mean, it’s a serious thing. You can’t just come right back. You’ll re-injure yourself.”