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Mariska Hargitay IS Olivia Benson On and Off the Screen

Reviewed By Celina Bravo, Editor

By Modern60, Editorial Team

Published On June 17, 2024

Beauty & Fashion

Mariska Hargitay IS Olivia Benson On and Off the Screen

"I'm an L.A. girl who became a tough New York cop."

Best known for her role as Olivia “Liv” Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Mariska Hargitay has been a force to reckon with on and off the screen. Her work has weighed so strongly on her life that it inspired her to ignite change in society. Through her experiences on the show, Hargitay learned the staggering statistics of violence against women, which led her to start an NGO – the Joyful Heart Foundation.

Who is Olivia Benson?

Entirely devoted to her work, Olivia Benson is the main protagonist on the show Law & Order: SVU. She now leads the Manhattan Special Victims Unit as its Captain, mainly handling cases of violence against women.

Mariska Hargitay With her Husband
Source: Getty Images

Benson doesn’t hail from a traditional family; in fact, her very birth is clouded with violence. As a result, she never could develop a strong relationship with her mother. This troubled history makes her more resolute in helping victims achieve justice. Unlike others, Benson remains connected to the people she works with even after the case is solved, helping them make peace with their past experiences.

Joyful Heart Foundation

Fighting violence on screen had a huge impact on Hargitay and she decided to start the Joyful Heart Foundation back in 2004 with a mission to transform society’s response to gender-based violence, child abuse and to support survivors’ healing.

Joyful Heart Foundation
Source: Joyful Heart Foundation

The Foundation works tirelessly to achieve this goal by running several comprehensive programs focusing on overall development and education. Some of these initiatives include Heal the Healers (to help trauma professionals combat PTSD and other issues), End The Backlog (to improve the legal response to cases of violence and abuse), Retreats (to help survivors heal their body, mind, and soul), and Engaging Men & Boys (to bring attention to cases of violence against men and to encourage men to actively join the efforts against violence). 

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In addition to these efforts, Mariska also produced an Emmy-award-winning documentary called I AM EVIDENCE in 2017, showcasing the stories of survivors and pushing for justice. 

Playing detective IRL

When you play a role for around 25 years, it’s only natural that people start associating you with it. While Benson has saved many fictional children in New York on the show, Hargitay had the chance to play a real-life hero recently while she was shooting a new episode. According to a report by People, a little girl got separated from her mother on April 10 at Anne Loftus Playground, where one of the season finales was being shot.

Playing detective IRL
Source: CNN

Mistaking Hargitay for a real police officer, the child approached her for help. Playing a role that is now so much a part of herself, she paused filming for 20 minutes and helped the little girl reunite with her mother. Like Liv, she also took the extra time to console the girl and her mother before they set off on their way.

After so many years, Mariska’s deep connection with her character is no surprise. Calling it a “parallel journey” in an interview with People, she said, “There’s a thing: WWOBD, ‘What would Olivia Benson do?’ The fans would always talk about it, and one day it hit me. I also have those moments where I’ve sort of slipped into her. If there’s a crisis, I just take over and lead like that. Being strong and fearless. It’s sort of this perfect feminist story.”

Mariska’s relationship with children

As a mom to three children in real life, it is no surprise that Hargitay has formed a deep bond with her reel-life son Noah (played by 14-year-old Ryan Buggle).

Source: Getty

Talking about her experiences working with him, she told NBC, “He is such a special human being. He’s not like a lot of child actors. He is so good, wise beyond his years, so kind, just wants to learn and grow, and so engaged… I just adore him because he’s also a fascinating person. He’s an incredible gymnast, he’s a great little thinker, and he asks such good questions, and he’s really open for anything. He’s like a little adult, but in a good way. I adore him, and I love having scenes with him. Sometimes with little kids, it’s like, ‘OK, are they gonna get it? Am I gonna have to navigate this?’ But with him it’s not like that. I look forward to it. And I have real love for him.”

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Guess all evidence points in one direction now, doesn’t it? Mariska Hargitay truly is Olivia Benson on and off the screen! 

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Editorial Team

The Editorial Team at Modern60 is a group of highly skilled professionals with diverse backgrounds in journalism, content creation, editing, and digital media. They bring a wealth of experience and expertise to ensure that every piece of content meets our strict editorial guidelines and quality standards. The team is dedicated to delivering accurate, well-researched, and engaging content across various subjects, including health, wellness, lifestyle, and current events. With their commitment to upholding the highest standards of journalism and content creation, the Modern60 Editorial Team is the driving force behind our mission to empower and inspire our readers.

Celina Bravo

Reviewed By

Celina Bravo


Meet Celina Bravo, your trusted skin care and beauty guru, boasting an impressive seven years of experience in the industry. With a clientele that includes numerous celebrities seeking her invaluable beauty tips and lifestyle advice, Celina has established herself as a go-to expert in the field. Her approach to beauty is both personal and empowering, focusing on enhancing natural features and cultivating radiant skin.

Not only does Celina cater to her elite clientele, but she also extends her expertise to a wider audience through her engaging blogs. Through her writing, she spreads awareness about beauty and shares practical tips that resonate with individuals seeking to elevate their skincare routines and embrace a holistic approach to beauty. With Celina Bravo by your side, discover the transformative power of self-care and unlock the secrets to radiant, glowing skin.

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