"I love him deeply," the Law & Order: SVU star says of her departing leading man

By People Staff
May 28, 2011 08:45 AM
Jimi Celeste/PatrickMcMullan/Sipa

One of TV’s longest-running – and hottest-looking – couples are to be no more.

This week brought the official announcement from NBC that Christopher Meloni, who has played Detective Stabler on Law & Order: SVU since the series began in 1999, will not be back for a 13th season this fall. Contract talks reportedly broke down.

That leaves his costar, Mariska Hargitay, partner-less. But the week also brought the unsettling news that the actress will be not be appearing in all of next season’s episodes.

Regarding the departure of her costar, Hargitay – who plays Detective Olivia Benson – said in a statement released late Friday:

[IMAGE “1” “right” “std” ]”For the past 12 years Chris Meloni has been my partner and friend, both on screen and off. He inspired me every day with his integrity, his extraordinary talent and his commitment to the truth. I love him deeply and will miss him terribly – I’m so excited to see what he’ll do next.”
Stephen M. Silverman