Partners For Life: Inside Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni’s Enduring Bond

screenmixApril 1, 2021

“It’s simple, we have each other’s backs.”

In those seven words, Christopher Meloni captured the intensity of his decades-long bond with Mariska Hargitay, his Law & Order: SVU costar. 

Partnered together onscreen as detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson when the procedural debuted on NBC in 1999, the pair formed an immediate connection that would cause many viewers to root for the characters to get together (even though, you know, he was married with children). 

“It happened at the screen test,” Meloni explained of their instant chemistry, telling People they “walked into the screen test, me telling her a story, and we get up onstage in front of all the suits, and we’re just so engaged.”

Now, 10 years after Meloni’s abrupt exit from the series, Stabler and Benson are reuniting onscreen for the first time in the network’s major crossover event to kick off his spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime.

While the former partners parted on shaky terms, their IRL counterparts maintained a close friendship that eased the pain of Stabler and Benson’s separation for the devoted SVU fanbase.