Christopher Meloni will reprise his role in a spinoff after leaving the series in 2011

By Benjamin VanHoose
April 03, 2020 09:22 AM
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Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni
Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty; Rich Polk/Getty

Mariska Hargitay is happy to have her crime-fighting partner Christopher Meloni back in the fold.

On Thursday, the Law & Order: SVU actress, 56, wished her former longtime costar a happy birthday as he turned 59. Hargitay also took the opportunity to celebrate Meloni’s return to his SVU character Elliot Stabler, after it was announced on Tuesday that he’d reprise the role in a spinoff series after leaving the show in 2011.

“Happy Birthday @chris_meloni Congratulations and welcome home Elliot Stabler #It’sBeenAWhile #MissedYou,” she captioned a throwback photo of herself on Instagram, smiling on set with her costar.

Meloni shared a glimpse at his homebound birthday celebration while self-isolating, posting a selfie in front of a cake and a floral arrangement.

“Got my fam. Homemade cake. Health. #luckyman #thxfortheBDayshouts,” he wrote along with the picture.

Though it doesn’t yet have an official title, the new Elliot Stabler NBC show has already been picked up for 13 episodes, and will, according to Deadline, follow the character as he leads an organized crime division of the NYPD.

Christopher Meloni
Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni in Law & Order: SVU in 1999
| Credit: NBCU Photo Bank

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Meloni was an original cast member when SVU premiered in 1999, but he left the popular series in 2011 after contract negotiations fell through. He was written off in the season 12 finale of the show, which was recently renewed for a record-breaking 24th season.

Hargitay, as Stabler’s partner Detective Olivia Benson, shared a palpable onscreen chemistry with Meloni, helping turn the crime procedural into an instant hit.

RELATED VIDEO: How Law & Order: SVU Turned Mariska Hargitay Into an Advocate for Rape Survivors

Hargitay told E! News in January that she credits her relationship with Meloni to “part of the success of the show.” Her screen partner agreed, the two actors both stressing they felt immediate “chemistry” when reading during auditions for the show.

“She and I hit it off right from the get-go,” Meloni said, with Hargitay describing her relationship with him as “instantaneous ease, trust, comfort.”

Hargitay added that, in addition to Meloni, she feels extremely grateful for the relationships she’s formed on the show: “The friendships I made on the show, people who are like family to me, it’s been the greatest gift.”