Their characters Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler were last seen on the show together at the end of season 12

By Georgia Slater
January 03, 2020 12:29 PM

As Law & Order: SVU continues into its twenty-first season — marking the longest-running drama in TV history — actress Mariska Hargitay is reflecting on her time with former costar Christopher Meloni.

Meloni and Hargitay helmed the show for its first 12 seasons as Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler, respectively, but split up as fictional partners when Meloni left in 2011 reportedly due to a dispute over his contract.

Meloni’s character was last seen at the end of season 12 after a shooting in the precinct. Hargitay, however, remains on the show as the only original cast member from the series.

While Hargitay, 55, has moved forward on the show, she told E! News at The Paley Center Salutes Law & Order: SVU special event that she still credits her relationship with Meloni, 58, to “part of the success of the show.”

The two actors both explained the immediate “chemistry” they felt when reading during auditions for the show — Hargitay describing her relationship with Meloni as “instantaneous ease, trust, comfort.”

Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank

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“She and I hit it off right from the get-go,” Meloni added.

Will Hart/NBC

Hargitay added that in addition to Meloni, she feels extremely grateful for the relationships she’s formed on the show.

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“The friendships I made on the show, people who are like family to me, it’s been the greatest gift,” she said.

Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.