Mariska Hargitay reveals the inspiration behind Olivia Benson

Mariska Hargitay, who has played Detective Olivia Benson on NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” for 20 years, has revealed the inspiration behind her iconic role.

“I think it’s an amalgamation of my … strong female friends,” Hargitay, 54, said Thursday during a panel discussion celebrating the show’s 20th anniversary at the Tribeca TV Festival.

The actress named her co-star Kelli Giddish as one of her muses.

“Kelli is one of the strongest people, I’d say, in a lot of ways, like, a lot cooler than I am … so there’s so many women that I admire and look up to and I try to grab pieces of those,” she said.

Hargitay also looks inside herself while portraying TV’s top female detective.

“Also, you know, that part of me, that fierce, badass lioness,” she said. “We play these parts, we have our little selves, all our complex part of our selves, and we draw that self and yeah, she’s awesome.”

For Giddish, who revealed she is expecting her second child, the feeling is mutual.

“I’ve had so many great moments with Mariska this year,” Giddish, 38, told Page Six. “It’s been really, really solid and with our relationship, [the writers] didn’t just make us be best friends just like that in a kind of false way. We’ve earned it, so like, all the behind-the-scenes moments with her, it really means a lot that we can kind of play up that friendship too.”

She continued, “It’s just been a joy to really flush out the friendship between [our characters] and I think the audience is in for a real treat to see that further evolve this year.”

Giddish also revealed to us that after two decades, she doesn’t see the show slowing down anytime soon.

“As long as people are down to write it and [Mariska] is down to be in it. We’re having such fun still, you know? And the writing is still really strong, and this doesn’t happen, you know? It doesn’t happen. And the fans are so great for this show like, all around the whole world,” she said.

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