‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Mariska Hargitay Mistook Christopher Meloni for Another Actor When First Meeting

by Jacklyn Krol

Mariska Hargitay revealed that when she first met her Law & Order: SVU co-star Christopher Meloni, she thought he was someone else.

The pair met at the auditions for the crime procedural. Hargitay thought that he was Mad Men star John Slattery.

“I said, ‘Slattery!’ He goes, ‘Meloni!’” she recalled to Glamour. But Meloni brushed off the mix-up. He was so confident and at ease that he began to tell Hargitay a story when they walked into the room filled with the network executives. He even told them to wait while he finished telling it.

“He’s a ballbuster,” Hargitay said. “And to see him back stronger, faster—he’s like the bionic man. He’s like this 60-year-old superhero who is even more dedicated, more badass, more pure, stronger, more focused. He’s just more of everything that he was.”

In a previous interview with Inside the Actors Studio, Hargitay revealed more details about their first encounter.

“I was already standing up, and so we did this huge hug, and we’d never met,” Hargitay explained. “He has a huge tattoo of Jesus on the cross, and so I said, ‘Oh my gosh, are you a Christian?’ And he’s like, ‘Um, no.” And I said, ‘Then why do you have that?’ He goes, ‘Just liked his commitment.’ That sort of sums up Meloni.”

Hargitay and Meloni were scheduled to individually audition. However, the Law & Order: SVU executives had them audition together. They knew that their chemistry would be magic.

“I knew it was done then. It just happened, it was a pairing,” she added. “From the first second before we even [auditioned]. You can’t write it.”

‘Law & Order: SVU’ Life on Set

For Kelli Giddish, her favorite part about Law & Order: SVU is the people. She couldn’t say enough good things about Hargitay and how much they all laugh on set.

“She’s a ball of energy,” Giddish said in an interview. “And no one could understand how funny that lady is with what is actually portrayed on their TV because Benson’s an empathetic, deeply concerned character.”

In real life, they know how to lighten things in between takes. Since the show’s serious nature can take a toll on one’s mental health, they manage to brighten each other up.

“That’s who she is in real life,” Giddish continued. “But the other facet to her personality is that she’s laughing all day every day.”

Ice-T spoke about how close the cast has become in another interview. As cheesy as it may be, their relationship has gone beyond co-workers and friends. After twenty years, it’s hard to describe.

“I think the best thing about our show is that everybody on our show that we work with is so wonderful,” he began. “It’s easy. You know, I love Mariska. We get along. Just the work environment is so fun. People throw the word family around but after 20 years, it’s true.” 

He also praised Hargitay for her work ethic.

“She does not come on set with a bad attitude, and she is always on point,” he added.