What is "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" without Benson? Arguably nothing. For 18 years, Mariska Hargitay has assumed the role of the strong female detective who has been a TV staple for almost two decades now. And now that the show is set to celebrate its 400th-episode milestone, fittingly directed by its leading lady, the cast and crew of the show have gathered together to celebrate her in a special event.
In a gathering last week in New York, Hargitay was showered only with good words by her co-workers from the Dick Wolf-created show. At the occasion, which also celebrates Hargitay as the latest TV Guide Magazine cover star, Ice-T, Kelli Gidding and Peter Scanavino were all present to show their support to their on-screen lieutenant.
"Mariska is just a really, sincerely nice person," Ice-T told PEOPLE when the media outlet caught up with him during the event. "I've been with her for a long time and she's really a nice person, she's very compassionate. It's wonderful to be around somebody who's really nice. I'm very fortunate to have her as a costar."
Truly, among all the actors in "Law & Order: SVU," the rapper and Hargitay have been on the show the longest. While the former has been part of the "Law & Order" spinoff since day 1, Ice-T came on board towards the end of its debut season back in 1999 as the hard-hitting detective, Finn.
Meanwhile, Giddish who plays Amanda Rollins since season 13 of the show and the only co-female officer in the bunch reveals that she values Hargitay's humor the most.
"She is freaking hilarious, I don't think anybody could ever guess how funny she is," Giddish shared. "But if you're close to her, you get it real good because you get to kind of have a piece of her heart and it's super sweet."
Rounding up Benson's crew is the newest detective from precinct 16, Sonny Carisi, played by Scanavino who may have the shortest time spent on the show but does not hold back from his love of Hargitay.
"She has a deep sensitivity. She's a strong woman who's deeply sensitive and empathetic and I think that allows her to see a lot of things from a lot of different viewpoints and that allows her to be very thoughtful, too," the actor stated.
The milestone episode titled "Motherly Love" will tackle a convoluted story starting with a teenage boy, armed with a rifle, coming to defend his mother from an assaulter. He however finds out when he faces the perpetrator that the latter is someone their family knows. As of now, there are no other hints as to what else will go down in the installment but given that it is "SVU's" celebratory one, fans can expect some unforeseeable twists coming with the case.
"Law & Order: SVU" returns on Feb. 8, Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET on NBC.