Mariska Hargitay Says Playing Olivia Benson on 'Law & Order' for 20 Years Keeps Her 'Fulfilled' (Exclusive)

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Mariska Hargitay and Detective Olivia Benson go hand-in-hand!

On Thursday, the 54-year-old actress opened up to ET about her connection to her beloved TV character while at a 20th anniversary celebration of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit during the 2018 Tribeca TV Festival in New York City. 

"We merge. We come together,” she said of the similarities between herself and Benson. "I think we’re each other’s teachers. But yeah, she’s taught me a lot.”

Hargitay told ET that she feels “fulfilled” playing Benson, and didn't appear to have any plans to retire her character. 

"It’s a lesson in being present and to not be thinking ahead,” she noted of the future of her show. "If you asked me 20 years ago, I never thought I’d be here 20 years later, and I am fulfilled and I love my co-stars and it’s an incredible collaboration with the producers and the writers, so I’m really enjoying it."

Mariska Hargitay
NBC Universal

After 20 years, Hargitay still considers her job to be “an incredible privilege,” sharing, “With moments like this, you’re sort of forced to really take it in because I feel like I’ve been in this marathon for 20 years. You know, just doing the work every day and our days are long so it’s been a long and beautiful [journey] to have moments to celebrate it."

Looking ahead, Hargitay is content with staying in the present. "I’m thinking about this year and this season and how to make it the best and thinking a little bit about next year,” she said. 

For more from Hargitay, watch the clip below: 

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