LAW & ORDER Stars Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni Weigh in on a Potential Benson/Stabler Relationship: 'It Just Has to be Earned' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

LAW & ORDER Stars Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni Weigh in on a Potential Benson/Stabler Relationship: ‘It Just Has to be Earned’

June 4, 2021 by  

Benson Stabler romance

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT — “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing” Episode 22016 — Pictured: (l-r) Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler, Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

[This post contains spoilers for the season finales of LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIM UNITS and LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME.]

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT ended its season with former partners Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) toasting to partnership, while on LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME’s final hours of the year, it was made clear by Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) that Olivia was the real love of Elliot’s life.

But after 22 seasons—12 of which they spent together on SVU, followed by a decade apart, and then their reunion on SVU and new spinoff OC over the past couple of months—could a Benson/Stabler romantic relationship actually be in the works? And would the actors want it?

“Yes, there’s a world—I mean a real world—where that could happen,” Meloni said during Variety & NBCUniversal’s Virtual FYC panel for SVU and ORGANIZED CRIME. “The journey there, though, would have to be…[Mariska] often uses the word, earned. It just has to be earned. Where they are right now, and what they have to grapple with, personally and professionally—and I would argue, especially [for] Stabler—it’s miles down the road.”

“I concur,” Hargitay added. “And, you know, we’re figuring it out. That’s the deep surgery and care that we take [with their relationship].”

“That’s where we’re at,” Meloni continued. “I mean, that’s the fun that we’re having right now: it’s two people who love each other. They love each other. Finding out how to place themselves in a [space] that’s comfortable and effective, nurturing and healthy, and all that, but juggling the children and everything—it’s a pretty heavy situation. And that’s a fun situation to play.”

“Noah Benson-Stabler,” Hargitay joked, referring to her character’s young adopted son.

Off-screen, the duo are still basking in getting to act opposite each other again.

“I’ve been working on this for 10 years,” Hargitay noted. “It’s true. And he knows it.”

Playing within the framework of their characters is “very satisfying,” Meloni acknowledged. “I find the tension—and I’ll leave it to the viewers what that tension is; obviously [it’s] sexual to many, etc. etc.—but I think it’s a multifaceted relationship and engagement. I think it is very human and that the faults of the characters come out. And that their pasts come out and inform how they engage each other. And those are, to me, some of the cornerstones of what was built, what we built with these two. Now coming back…it’s comforting and comfortable.”

Hargitay added: “It’s…utterly effortless and utterly earned. And it has been such a joy because I think that Chris and I, from the minute we met, it was…a chemistry and an ease, a familiarity and curiosity. I think we connected on so many different levels, which is really a gift with any human being. But we went through so much in the first 12 years, and dug so deep and had a very full relationship; a very honest one, and a brave one. And we also experienced so much together, for the first time, that, quite frankly, nobody, including our spouses, really understood, because we lived something and we created this baby together [in] LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT.”

“And then having him leave was, obviously, so painful for me,” she continued. “And so hard, because the way he left, there was no closure, there was just a big hole. And so now, coming back, again, incredibly earned within the writing. There’s so much to play, and yet, it’s sort of effortless, because it’s true. And we have been apart. It’s been a joy, and [as] Chris said, comforting, comfortable. But it’s so much fun, because we work so hard on the scenes, and then we throw it all the way, and it’s right here. And it’s always right there.”

“Chris and my communication is a gift, because we know each other so well and…trust each other,” she said. “There’s so much trust, and that’s everything, certainly in acting. Everything. I wish it on all actors, because it’s such a unicorn, this show, and I don’t know that this will happen again.”

Outside of potentially exploring a new dynamic to their relationship, Meloni also praised ORGANIZED CRIME’s format, which tracks one villain per arc, for allowing them to take creative risks.

”I found it very attractive, because I felt as though the Wolf people were committed to telling their stories in a different format,” he said of the planned eight-episode pods that will make up each season. (The plan is to do three per season.) “I felt as though, just as just like when SVU started…it used to be [on other shows], I don’t want personal, I just want procedural; that’s how the original LAW & ORDER was. And then, with Benson and Stabler, [creator Dick Wolf] said, let’s get a little personal. We get a little glimpse of our personal lives.”

“[With ORGANIZED CRIME] I thought there’s going to be a chance for a more cinematic way of telling the story, both visually and on the page,” he said. “You’d be able to get great actors who are looking for an eight-episode arc themselves, and really kind of dig into a character and dig into a story.”




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