‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Mariska Hargitay Reveals Benson’s Spirit Animal

by Madison Miller

Tonight is another episode of “Law & Order: SVU” on NBC. As always, you can expect Captain Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay, to lead her team in different devastating and emotional investigations.

On Instagram, she’s making some connections to her popular character. She wrote, “Benson tonight. #DontMessWithBenson #Lionheart.”

There’s no one out there that quite understands Benson as Hargitay does. That likely even includes different writers or producers.

Hargitay has been portraying Benson on “Law & Order: SVU” since 1999. Her character has slowly worked her way up on the career ladder and is now a captain. In fact, Hargitay’s character is the longest-running character in a prime-time TV live-action series.

The Significance of Powerful ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Character

For Mariska Hargitay, both Benson and the message of “Law & Order: SVU” are incredibly important to her.

“It became very apparent to me early how much, culturally, we needed this character who relentlessly fights and advocates for women and for survivors, and who does it with compassion. Somebody who is unequivocally committed to righting wrongs, who believes survivors, who’s aware of the healing in it,” Hargitay emotionally told The New York Times during an interview from 2019.

Similar to a lion, Benson is brave, courageous, and protective. Hargitay also shared that viewers of the show will often approach her and share their own very personal stories regarding sexual assault.

While Benson is just a character on TV, Hargitay has made it her mission to make it all larger than life. She produced an HBO documentary called “I Am Evidence.” It focuses on the importance of widespread rape-kit backlogs being available at police departments. Overall, it focuses on how police handle sexual assault cases throughout the U.S. and it earned an Emmy.

Hargitay has dedicated a lot of her life to working offscreen for victims of sexual assault. She is a trained rape crisis counselor. In 2004, she also founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, which is a nonprofit that helps survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault.

Benson and Returning Cast Member

Recently, “Law & Order: SVU” has been bringing back some familiar faces. The most notable and popular is likely Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler. Although, he spends most of his time over on his own spin-off series, “Law & Order: Organized Crime.”

The show is bringing back Detective Nick Amaro seven years after he made his exit from the popular crime show. He is portrayed by Danny Pino and was last on the show in 2014.

You may remember Amaro for his more violent way of handling situations. For example, he shot and killed a serial killer who was holding Benson hostage. He also got arrested for assaulting a pedophile while off-duty.

It’s unclear exactly what his role will be in his guest-starring episode. He is appearing on the episode airing on October 21. This is the show’s 500th episode. In honor of that, “Law & Order: SVU” is bringing back several guest stars that shine a light on Benson’s past.