Hargitay's Lt. Olivia Benson has been put through the wringer on numerous occasions, most recently in the Wednesday, Nov. 29 episode, "Something Happened." The episode, a departure from SVU's traditional episode structure, saw Hargitay flexing her Emmy-winning acting muscles in new ways. The episode was essentially a two-person play.
In "Something Happened," Benson dug deep inside herself to address issues she's long repressed about her father, as well as the traumatic abuse William Lewis (Pablo Schreiber) inflicted. Viewers will recall Benson is the product of rape, and she never knew her father. Her mother struggled with alcoholism during Benson's upbringing and it ultimately played a factor in her death. Clearly, Hargitay is no stranger to her character's emotional struggles, but when confronted by Laurel (Melora Walters) and her harrowing story of familial abuse, Benson and Hargitay were forced to go to an even deeper space than ever before.
"I loved any sort of the intellectual aspects of it, and not knowing how I'm going to get in," Harigtay told E! News. "The story is obviously an emotional story to tell…I remember [showrunner] Michael Chernuchin kept saying—you might not want to write this because it's a little graphic—but he kept saying, ‘Benson has to pull off her scabs,' right? Rip off her scabs. I felt that's exactly what it was. I had to go into areas that I have never gone into to get this story, to really find out what happened that night."
"Nobody knew what was going to happen and it was the most exciting, thrilling thing ever," she said.
Hargitay credited her connection with Walters as a reason why she was able to go as deep as she did in the episode.
The episode required a heady space Hargitay never went to with Benson before. "I hated him," the character said of her father. "I was just collateral damage." There's a clear emotional toll this case took on the character.
It's on her face with the last shot of the episode: Benson, alone at the interrogation room table, full of emotion. "Yeah, it's like she's ready to go again. She's like a boxer, she's ready and will not fall. ‘I will not fall,'" Hargitay said.