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NBC Insider Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Mariska Hargitay Says Fans Need to Remember Something Important About Bensler’s Relationship

The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star’s relationship with Christopher Meloni is “sacred” on and off screen, she told NBC Insider.

By Stephanie Gomulka

Mariska Hargitay has a message for fans who'd like to see her Law & Order: Special Victims Unit character Olivia Benson and franchise fav Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) together romantically.

How to Watch

Watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursdays on NBC and next day on Peacock.

As she celebrates 25 seasons of playing Benson, she dished to NBC Insider about the beloved characters’ relationship.

Viewers will recall the end of Season 24, Episode 12 of SVU, when Stabler leaned in for kiss and Benson told him, "Elliot, I want to. I want to, but I can't."

RELATED: What Mariska Hargitay Wants for Benson and Stabler: "Our Chemistry Is Undeniable"

For fans still hoping the pair will eventually get together, Hargitay says she understands.

“I really do because they’re responding to our mutual love for each other, our respect for each other, the deep trust that we hold in each other, the chemistry between us," Hargitay said. "But it is so sacred and sometimes that changes things, right? It’s a complex relationship.”

There's also one important point that Hargitay wants those wishing that the two hook up understand.

Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni attend NBC's "Law & Order" Press Junket

What does Mariska Hargitay want fans to understand about Benson and Stabler's relationship?

“He’s still grieving over Kathy Stabler,” Hargitay said of Stabler's late wife.

Kathy (Isabel Gillies) was murdered in a car bombing meant for her husband in the SVU episode "Return of the Prodigal Son" (Season 22, Episode 9). The grief of losing his longtime love was part of Stabler’s motivation for joining the NYPD's Organized Crime Control Bureau to find her killer. 

RELATED: Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni Are All Smiles in Radiant Post-Swim Selfie

Hargitay and Meloni share a close friendship off-screen

The actors behind Benson and Stabler are tight in real life, and the longtime friends and co-stars text a lot, Hargitay told NBC Insider.

“I’m just so grateful for the relationship and for the friendship,” Hargitay said. “It’s sacred on and off the screen so it’s a beautiful, beautiful friendship.”

RELATED: Mariska Hargitay & Chris Meloni Holding Hands in Matching Suits Is Bestie Goals

There’s one colleague of Stabler's who wants Benson and Stabler's iconic almost-kiss to stay that way — just an almost. And that would be Tate Ellington, one of Meloni's current castmates on Law & Order: Organized Crime.

He plays Dr. Kyle Vargas, a tech whiz and AI expert who recently joined the OCCB crew. The actor is a longtime fan of Law & Order, which he once had a guest role on, and SVU.

Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler scramble on the floor in Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 3 Episode 22.

What does Tate Ellington think about Bensler?

Ellington warns that his take on Bensler is a “controversial” one. “I apologize...,” he laughed to NBC Insider before commenting on the pair. “I don’t want them to get together.”

Ellington thinks both characters are amazing and play off of each other so well, but views their tie closer to a “brother and sister” relationship.

“There’s sometimes where I think people are such amazing friends in life and are such amazing people, and together they only elevate each other," the actor added. "I was on the Stabler, Benson getting together camp a long time ago, but as its progressed, I think for me, it changes their dynamic.”

Watch Law & Order: SVU on NBC Thursdays at 9/8c p.m. and stream episodes the next day on Peacock.