Chris Meloni on Filming 'Law & Order' with Mariska Hargitay: 'She Brought Her Game, I Brought Mine'

Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay will appear onscreen together during Thursday’s Law & Order: SVU and Organized Crime crossover event

After years of costarring as Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson, Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay are still bringing their A-game to Law & Order.

The two actors played Stabler and Benson for the first 12 seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, up until Meloni's departure in 2011. Last month, however, they reunited onscreen during a crossover event for Meloni's new spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime.

"We've reintroduced two characters that their 'their-ness' ended abruptly, very unsatisfactorily, and now they are just as suddenly reunited," Meloni, 60, told PEOPLE at a virtual press event ahead of the next SVU and Organized Crime crossover, airing Thursday on NBC.

"There is a lot of emotional and psychological unpacking to do between these two people so you know it's a long-winded way of saying, it's complicated," he continued.

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

"I think they have a lot of understanding and a lot of healing to go through before things get back to a state of normalcy or understanding, where they are in their lives and how each other, truly, deeply fit in with each other," Meloni said of Benson and Stabler.

As for whether he and Hargitay, 57, discussed their characters' evolving relationship, Meloni noted that he's "not too big of a talker" when it comes to preparing for scenes.

"She brought her game, I brought mine and I liked the results," he said.

Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Meloni also discussed the viewer reaction to his return to the Law & Order franchise, sharing that when he's spotted filming in New York City, fans tend to honk their car horns at him and shout out "I love yous."

"It's sweet, they're all my best friends," he said. "They've welcomed back the prodigal son — it's very nice, it's heartwarming."

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Prior to the first episode of Organized Crime, Meloni and Hargitay told PEOPLE that filming together again felt just like old times.

"It was Pavlovian: Ring that bell, and you get right into Stabler and Benson," Meloni said in February.

"There was so much shorthand between us, which all goes back to the trust we have," Hargitay added. "He's always made me feel like I could just jump off the ledge, the cliff, the bridge, and he would catch me, in so many ways, whether it was comedy or acting or friendship."

"It's simple," Meloni concluded. "We have each other's back.

Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET and Organized Crime at 10 p.m. ET, both on NBC.

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