Mariska Hargitay Congratulates Christopher Meloni on SVU Return as He Turns 59: ‘Missed You’

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Meloni was an original cast member when SVU premiered in 1999, but he left the popular series in 2011 after contract negotiations fell through. He was written off in the season 12 finale of the show, which was recently renewed for a record-breaking 24th season.

Hargitay, as Stabler’s partner Detective Olivia Benson, shared a palpable onscreen chemistry with Meloni, helping turn the crime procedural into an instant hit.

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Hargitay told E! News in January that she credits her relationship with Meloni to “part of the success of the show.” Her screen partner agreed, the two actors both stressing they felt immediate “chemistry” when reading during auditions for the show.

“She and I hit it off right from the get-go,” Meloni said, with Hargitay describing her relationship with him as “instantaneous ease, trust, comfort.”

Hargitay added that, in addition to Meloni, she feels extremely grateful for the relationships she’s formed on the show: “The friendships I made on the show, people who are like family to me, it’s been the greatest gift.”

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