Fans of Law & Order: SVU may not have realized it at the time, but they got to watch Mariska Hargitay fall in love with her future husband on the show. Peter Hermann scored a guest-starring role early in the show’s run as Attorney Trevor Langan. Audiences were unaware of the behind-the-scenes romance. However, her TV partner and real-life friend Christopher Meloni had a front-row seat.
Meloni told PEOPLE in February that he knew right away that she was smitten with the handsome actor. Even if she refused to admit it.
“So he gets on the show as you know a guest actor, and I’m like is it literally this,” he said, exaggerating for effect. “I’m like looking at her looking at him, and I’m seeing how she’s acting right. So, you know, I know her, and I’m like, ‘Oh boy.’ She’s like, ‘I don’t even care about him or anything like that.’ I was just like, ‘Oh my god I’m back in high school or even, you know, grade school.'”
Meloni knows his Law & Order: SVU partner and friend so well, he could tell she was lying. And he was right. Hermann and Hargitay started dating shortly thereafter. He also didn’t believe her when she confided in him that they’d broken up.
“They start dating and this and that, and one day she comes in and she was crushed,” Meloni recalled. “She goes, ‘Peter and I had a really deep, long conversation. We cried, and I just don’t think it’s going to work.’ And I was listening …, but the whole time in the bubble in my head, I’m like ‘you’ll be married within five months.'”
The couple married in 2004 and have three children together. She’s also godmother to one of Meloni’s daughters.
Hargitay calls Meloni a Television ‘Unicorn’
Hargitay and Meloni haven’t appeared on screen together since 2012 when he left Law & Order: SVU. But when word leaked that Meloni’s Stabler would appear in a crossover episode of the show to promote his new Law & Order spin-off, fans were ecstatic. So much so that the guest spot landed them on the cover of PEOPLE magazine.
Hargitay says it’s a testament to their relationship and Meloni’s rare ability to endear himself to the audience.
“I am just in awe on this day…that here we are on the cover of PEOPLE magazine because of this reunion. I think that it is such a testament to the power and uniqueness of the unicorn that is Chris because in television, when somebody leaves, obviously there’s a grieving period. But, the fans never moved on and I think that is just so incredibly beautiful and so incredibly powerful and it was so meaningful to me,” Mariska Hargitay said.