‘Law & Order: SVU’ Actor Mariska Hargitay Was in Another Major Series Before Starring in the Crime Drama

by Jacklyn Krol

Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay was on another iconic television show before the CBS crime drama.

During 1997 in Season 4, Harigtay portrayed Cynthia Hooper. The character was series regular Dr. Mark Greene’s girlfriend. But landing the role was harder than any other audition she went to. But the reason wasn’t the role itself, rather the deciding factor.

Hargitay told Inside the Actors Studio that she was trying to get an ER audition prior to her Law & Order: SVU role and finally landed it. She went into the audition with six blonde women also trying out for the role.

“Like beautiful blondes. And so I go, ‘Oh wow. Well, I guess this isn’t going to happen.’ And it just took all the pressure off me,” she recalled.

She ended up having “so much fun” at the audition. She admitted that she was “super prepared.”

“But you know, it’s that thing of you do your work, and then you hit the flow. And then you’re in the flow and it’s a wave, and all you’re doing is riding it. So, I left the audition, and I was high as a kite,” she recalled. “I was so happy because you know that’s rare when we really leave an audition going, ‘I killed it.’ Now we would say, ‘#Killedit.’”

A Missed Opportunity?

ER Executive Producer John Wells initially turned down the role. She called him up and asked him why she didn’t get the part. He explained that he wanted to cast closer to the type of character. Meaning a “very weak, fragile, fragmented, nervous girl.” He said that she was obviously strong and not the type.

“‘Hold on. You’re telling me that I acted it better than anybody and I’m not getting it because I’m not that way in real life?’” the Law & Order: SVU star said to him at the time. “And he goes, ‘Yeah.’ And by the time I got home, they had called and offered me the role.”

Watch a scene from the 90s show, here.

‘Law & Order: SVU’ Audition

How did Mariska Hargitay win over producers for Law & Order: SVU?

Hargitay revealed that Law & Order producers paired her and Christopher Meloni up.

“We walked into the screen test with me telling her a story, and we get up on stage in front of all the suits and we’re just so engaged,” she recalled to PEOPLE. “And we go, ‘Give us one second, I just need to finish this story it’s really funny.’”

Obviously, it became a match made in heaven. They instantly knew during the audition that they would become the perfect team.