Mariska Hargitay Knew She Had to Play Olivia Benson During 'SVU' Audition

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Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Mariska Hargitay immediately knew she wanted a role on Law & Order: SVU.

The 55-year-old actress recalled on Wednesday's episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert how she got "chills" when she read the first script ahead of her audition.

"I read the script and I just — I knew in my gut that I had to do this role. I'd never been so excited about it," Hargitay, who plays Olivia Benson on the NBC series, told host Stephen Colbert.

"The thing that was interesting is that my agent called me, and he said, 'Maris, you know it's very dark subject matter. I don't know if it's your thing,'" she said. "I read it and just, you know, chills. And I knew I had to do it."

(Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

Hargitay said she was "so excited and so sure" about Law & Order: SVU when she met series creator Dick Wolf for the first time. She spoke to the producer again during a callback when she mistakenly assumed another actress was there for the same role.

"So, I walked in and I go, 'Listen, you're confused. Here's the deal, I'm pretty sure this is me. I'm pretty sure this has got my name written all over it. This is my part. I'm serious, we're past this, let's not even waste your time,'" the star recounted.

"He laughed, and then we went to network, and I got it. And I found out that the other girl was for another role, and she was in the pilot, too!" she said with a laugh. "And we've become friends."

Law & Order: SVU debuted in September 1999 and was picked up for a 21st season in March. Wolf had nothing but praise for Hargitay, now also an executive producer, in a press release at the time.

"As SVU moves into its third decade, Mariska has become an iconic figure as a star, advocate, and crusader for women," Wolf said. "Mariska is a delight as #1 on the call sheet and, to me, a true friend."

Dick Wolf & the 'Law & Order: SVU' Cast Sound Off on Their Record-Breaking Renewal

Dick Wolf & the 'Law & Order: SVU' Cast Sound Off on Their Record-Breaking Renewal

'We have always told compelling stories that are close to our hearts, our souls and our core,' star Mariska Hargitay notes.

"I am deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show," Hargitay added. "The longevity and continued success of SVU is a testament not only to the show's powerful storytelling and ability to connect with viewers, but to its necessity. We have told important stories for 20 years, and we will continue to tell them."

Law & Order: SVU co-stars Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino, and Philip Winchester.

By Annie Martin

Originally published in UPI Entertainment News.