as Det. Olivia Benson
Mariska Hargitay headlines the crime drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” as the unit’s veteran Det. Olivia Benson. In its freshman season, in 1999-2000, Hargitay earned nominations from the Viewers for Quality Television for Best Actress, from the TV Guide Awards for Favorite Actress in a New Series and from the International Press Academy for Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama Series.
Says Hargitay, “As a woman, it’s gratifying to play a part that’s a multi-layered challenge. Olivia is not only a competent, street-smart cop, she’s an empathetic woman who can respond emotionally to victims of terrible crimes without compromising her professionalism.”
Hargitay gained recognition from her recurring role on “ER” as Dr. Greene’s (Anthony Edwards) sometimes naïve and scattered girlfriend, desk clerk Cynthia Hooper, in the 1997-98 season of the popular drama. Hargitay also also earned notice as a cast regular in the sitcom “Can’t Hurry Love” starring Nancy McKeon. She was also a regular on the popular series “Falcon Crest” and “Prince Street.”
Hargitay starred opposite Ken Olin in the television movie “The Advocate’s Devil” and opposite Valerie Bertinelli and Harry Hamlin in the miniseries thriller “Night Sins.” Her additional television credits include guest-starring roles on “Seinfeld,” “Ellen,” “thirtysomething,” “Wiseguy” and “In the Heat of the Night.”
Hargitay’s feature film credits include “Lake Placid” (starring Bill Pullman and Bridget Fonda), the critically acclaimed “Leaving Las Vegas,” David Lynch’s “Hotel Room” and Bob Fosse’s “Star ‘80.” On the Los Angeles stage, she has co-starred in “Salad Days,” “Women’s Work” and “Porno.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hargitay is the youngest daughter of screen legend Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay. She divides her time between New York and Los Angeles. The UCLA graduate speaks Hungarian, French and Italian. Her birthday is January 23.