Mariska Hargitay Gets Choked Up Remembering Christopher Meloni’s ‘SVU’ Exit: ‘It Was a Hard Adjustment’

The 'Law and Order: SVU' star recalled how difficult it was when her co-star left the show in season 12 in a new interview, marking the show's 25th anniversary.

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Mariska Hargitay cried while looking back on when Christoper Meloni left Law and Order: SVU in 2011 in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, published on Tuesday, February 6. While re-watching the final episode that they shared together, Mariska, 60, got emotional, and she spoke about how difficult it was after her co-star exited the series.

Rewatching Chris’ final scene with Ice-T, 65, Mariska admitted that they “didn’t think that this was going to be the last episode” with Christopher, 62. She admitted that while they were filming, they couldn’t anticipate that it would be the actor’s last episode.  “Nobody knew that things would break down over the summer, before we started the new season, and yeah, everything would’ve been very different had we known,” she told Entertainment Weekly.

While looking at the first scene after his exit, Mariska started crying. “I remember that. It was so hard because that happened,” she said. “It was sad. Just brings me back.”

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She continued and said that the sudden change was hard to get used to. “It was a hard adjustment, because like I said, there was so much unknown, but for me, working with someone on such an intimate level for 12 years, and we were just so close, and we built this thing. We built this thing together. It was an intense relationship, and to go [snaps] like that, to have it end with no warning. It sort of deteriorated very quickly,” she said.

Ice also said that he was concerned about what Christopher’s exit would mean for the show and the plot going forward. “We just didn’t know how the deck was going to get shuffled at that point,” he said. “Mariska is now out there, she has no partner, who’s going to be her partner?”

Earlier in the interview, Mariska admitted that she was glad that they didn’t know that it would be Christopher’s last episode, because they treated it very normally. “Thank God we didn’t know, because we filmed it just like a regular episode,” she said.

While looking at the filming technique, she spoke about how it was incredibly fitting for Christopher’s last episode. “That beautiful pullback shot that he did was so dramatic that it actually felt a little bit like an ending. I don’t know if I’m just projecting on that, because I know it was the ending, but that was a really beautiful and dramatic shot,” she said. “Pulling away from him, we now endow that moment with what we know happened.”

While fans were sad to see Elliot Stabler leave the show, Chris eventually did return to the Law and Order franchise, with the 2021 spin-off Organized Crime. He did reunite with Mariska’s Olivia Benson in a 2022 crossover.