The star and executive producer talks to ET about saying goodbye to Giddish in the upcoming 24th season.
Giddish announced her exit from the NBC procedural in August, confirming that she would be leaving as a full-time cast member during the upcoming season. The actress joined SVU as Detective Amanda Rollins at the start of season 13 alongside Danny Pino following Chris Meloni’s unexpected departure at the end of season 12. Giddish departs following a 12-season run.
ET spoke with Hargitay on the Law & Order carpet in New York on Monday, where she spoke about Giddish's departure from the show.
"Oh god, Kelli. I love Kelli, she's my girl," Hargitay, who is also an executive producer on SVU, told ET's Rachel Smith. "She is one of my favorite actors that I’ve ever worked with and we got to build something really beautiful together and really earned together because our characters had quite a journey. It wasn't so easy at the beginning and then we just fell into this beautiful safety, trust."
"That was a hard one. I will miss that because she was my go-to, my right hand, the woman that I could talk to," she said. "Olivia Benson's out there taking care of everyone else and she was somebody that really took care of me and had my back. Even though Fin has my back and Stabler has my back, it's different to have a woman have your back because it’s a different perspective."
"I’m gonna miss her a lot, but she’s a lifelong friend and I'm just glad that our paths crossed, and I know they'll continue to cross," Hargitay promised.
At the time of her announcement, Giddish posted an emotional note on Instagram explaining her decision to leave SVU.
“I wanted to address the chatter I’ve seen online and let everyone know that this will, indeed, be my last season on ‘Law & Order: SVU,’” Giddish wrote at the time. “Playing Rollins has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life. I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of the ‘Law & Order’ family for the last 12 years. There is simply no other character on TV like Rollins. She’s grown and changed, and I have as well. I started on this show when I was in my late 20s and I’m grateful I got to spend so many of my adult years with Rollins in my life.”
While Hargitay will be bidding farewell to one character, she has plenty to look forward to on Thursday with the three-show premiere crossover event with Law & Order and Law & Order: Organized Crime.
"It was just so fun," she said of working opposite the other casts. "First of all, it's always a joy to work with Chris and for us to be back together. It just feels like home and Camryn [Manheim] and I have been friends for a long time and getting to work with her -- because when she first came over I was like, 'Are we gonna have scenes together?' But of course we didn’t really because we're on different shows. So, working with the actors and getting to go outside our playground and working with different characters brings up different things. Just getting to work with all these incredible actors in a different capacity, but yet we're all sort of like cousins. There’s this familial quality to it that’s so beautiful."
Law & Order: SVU returns Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC as part of a three-hour crossover event with Law & Order and Law & Order: Organized Crime.