By the time she was a freshman in college, Hargitay had an agent and several small roles to her credit.
She attended UCLA School of Theater Film and Television (where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma)."We started class, and in the Groundlings curriculum, one of the first exercises you do is the cliched 'trust' game.
For the female lead – Detective Olivia Benson – Samantha Mathis, Reiko Aylesworth, and Hargitay were being considered.
For the male role – Detective Elliot Stabler – the finalists were Tim Matheson, John Slattery, and Christopher Meloni.
And that's what we work to do every day at Joyful Heart.
Reference to the Joyful Heart Foundation was worked into episodes of Special Victims Unit, via a necklace containing two pendants representing the Foundation that Hargitay's character began wearing in the show's 13th season.
Meloni and Hargitay had auditioned in the final round together and after the actors left, there was a moment of dead silence, after which Wolf blurted out, "Oh well.
There's no doubt who we should choose – Hargitay and Meloni." The duo, who Wolf believed had the perfect chemistry from the first time he saw them together, were his first choice.
Casting for the lead characters of NBC police procedural television drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit occurred in the spring of 1999.
Dick Wolf, along with officials from NBC and Studios USA, were at the final auditions for the two leads at Rockefeller Center.
The last round had been narrowed down to six finalists.
is an American actress best known for her role as Detective/Sergeant/Lieutenant Olivia Benson on the NBC drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, for which she has earned multiple awards and nominations, including winning a Primetime Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award.
The daughter of bodybuilder and actor Mickey Hargitay and actress Jayne Mansfield, Hargitay made her film debut in the 1985 horror-comedy film Ghoulies and her major television debut in the 1986 adventure drama series Downtown. She has two older brothers, Miklós and Zoltán, and three half-siblings, Jayne Marie Mansfield and Antonio "Tony" Cimber (from her mother's first and third marriages, respectively) and Tina Hargitay (from her father's first marriage).