See How Many ER Stars Came to Hang Out with Mariska Hargitay on ‘Law & Order: SVU’

by Suzanne Halliburton

If you’re an avid fan of Law & Order: SVU, you’ve probably noticed how so many actors from the 1990s classic ER end up hanging out with Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson.

It makes all kinds of sense. Hargitay’s first significant career break came in season four of ER. That’s when she played Cynthia Hooper, the desk clerk of County General’s ER department. She fell in love with Dr. Mark Greene. But Greene thought their relationship was more casual until Cynthia followed him to California. He’d gone to San Diego to be with his sick mother. Hargitay’s character broke up with him when they got back to Chicago.

That was back in 1997-98. And then in 1999, Hargitay earned the role of Olivia Benson. And she’s played that character, a true champion of women and other assault victims, for 516 episodes. Watch No. 517 on Sept. 22, the premiere of season 24.

Hargitay finally enticed Edwards to join her on Law & Order: SVU. But it took a long time to get the former ER doctor to show up on the show. It was back in October, 2016, for an episode called “Rape Interrupted.” Edwards played an intriguing character. He was Benson’s first partner. He showed back up in her life when his son was accused of raping a drunk woman. The son also was drunk and the question was whether the sex was consensual.

With Edwards doing a guest turn, the Law & Order: SVU icon looked back at her time on ER. “It was at the beginning of something,” Hargitay told Entertainment Tonight. “The trajectory of my life and career — and certainly me as an actor — changed from being on that show and working with all these amazing actors. It was incredible education and an
incredible gift.”

Edwards, when asked why it took so long for him to appear on SVU, said “It all happens for a reason and this is the right time to be here. I think it’s just the timing — and the timing is perfect.” 

Laura Innes, far left, was the only one in this 1997 ER cast photo who didn’t appear on either Law & Order: SVU or Law & Order. (NBC)

There were many more ER stars who appeared on Law & Order: SVU. Donal Logue even was a regular on SVU, playing Declan Murphy, who also happened to be the father of Amanda Rollins’ first daughter. Logue reappeared on Law & Order: SVU earlier this year, returning for “Silent Night, Hateful Night.”

There also was a big ER season four contingent who showed up for a Law & Order: SVU episode in November, 2010. Maria Bello, who played the daughter of a rape victim, and Alex Kingston, who portrayed a defense attorney, enjoyed a mini-reunion with Hargitay. Bello and Kingston played doctors on ER. And Bello and Hargitay were such good friends that Hargitay invited Bello to her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony in 2013. Kingston, as Miranda Pond, stuck around SVU for a while. She appeared in four episodes in 2009-10.

Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay invited Maria Bello to her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony. Plus, Danny Pino, who played Hargitay’s partner on SVU, was there as well in 2013. (Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

Other ER Stars Found Their Way to Dick Wolf Universe

Law & Order: SVU wasn’t the only show in the franchise that attracted ER stars. Juliana Margulies portrayed nurse Carol Hathaway on ER. She also had the good fortune to play the love interest of George Clooney’s Doug Ross, the heartthrob pediatrician. And before ER, she appeared as a police lieutenant on Law & Order. Then there was Sherry Stringfield, who was in the original ER cast (and wife of Donal Logue’s character). She also earned a guest part on Law & Order. So did Maura Tierney.

And Edwards also took a turn on another Dick Wolf show. He played a judge on the Law & Order: True Crime, a miniseries about Lyle and Eric Menendez, who made national headlines when they killed their rich parents.

Maybe Edwards can come back to Law & Order: SVU. But his son did confess to the crime.