‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Mariska Hargitay Remembers Richard Belzer, Reveals Her Nickname For Ice-T And Talks About Directing

Mariska Hargitay, who plays Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU, the longest-running character in TV history at 23 years and counting, sat for a wide-ranging chat this morning on Today. (Watch the full interview below.)

The death several days ago of co-star Richard Belzer was of course a topic in the conversation with Savannah Guthrie. Hargitay paid tribute to her longtime colleague as a “beautiful and complex” person.

“What a heart and soul,” she said. “He was family and taught me so much about taking risks and creativity and trust, and he brought so much joy to the set.” Belzer, who had a background in stand-up comedy, “was this acerbic, quick-witted, brilliant mind and yet he would melt in the sight of a child.”

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Hargitay, who is an executive producer of SVU, also spoke about taking a turn behind the camera. A clip was shown from Thursday night’s episode, which she directed — her first such outing in three years. “It’s a bit of a departure from what we normally do,” she said of the episode, which features guest star Bradley Whitford. “There are a whole lot of surprises.” She added that she felt “so deeply honored that they trusted me with this material.”

Along with Belzer, another actor with whom Hargitay has shared significant screen time is Ice-T. As she revealed recently at the unveiling of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, said she has managed to become the only one permitted to use the nickname “Icy.” The actor and rapper also has his own nickname for Hargitay, which she declined to reveal. “My relationship with him is so cozy!” she laughed.

Here is the full interview:

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