Mariska Hargitay on Jay Leno: he “ruined” Law & Order: SVU

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My girlfriend Mariska Hargitay is the February cover girl for More Magazine, and OK! Magazine has some lovely interview excerpts. Mariska talks about being a size 8 in a size zero world, the time some a-hole told her to get a nose job, and how much she hates Jay Leno. Not really on the last one, Mariska just blame Leno and the boneheads at NBC for killing Law & Order: SVU’s original 10 p.m. timeslot, and she also blames them for the decline in ratings this season. Now, here’s the thing: I’m a loyal SVU watcher, and while I hate that SVU comes on at 9 p.m. now, I also think this season sucked (especially the first episodes) because they cast Christine Lahti as a raging alcoholic paleo-feminist who treated men like crap under the guise of “girl power” – and who was, coincidentally, terrible at her job as a prosecutor. While that plotline might have been realistic, it sucked the life out of the first part of the season, and even throwing Lahti off the show wasn’t enough to make it better.

Mariska Hargitay is one of the most respected actresses on primetime TV, and her success on Law & Order: SVU has also made her one of the highest-paid stars on network TV.

“The only reason I have the career I have is that I didn’t quit,” the actress admits in the February issue More magazine. The cover girl opened up about her thoughts on The Jay Leno Show bumping SVU, living in the shadow of her iconic mother, Jayne Mansfield, her financial worries and the constant pressure on actresses to be beautiful.

“A guy at ABC told me to change my name and get a nose job. I said, ‘You get a nose job,’” Mariska reveals in her More interview on not having the conventional movie star looks. “I think I’m a very attractive person, but I don’t put myself in the realm of the beauty. That’s not where I get my esteem. I’m a size 8, and I feel proud of that, because it’s healthy. I’ve never felt compelled to be a skinny actress.”

Even though she is one of the highest-paid primetime actresses, Mariska still stresses about money.

“I constantly worry about money. I make a lot now, but I don’t feel that way, because I was poor and had no money for a lot longer than I’ve had it,” she said. “As an actor, if this show ends next year, then what? As an aging woman, then what? I’m saving money to live on, for the future. There are not that many roles for women, and I’ve been blessed with one of the great ones.”

SVU was affected by the late night shift when Jay Leno came on the scene for his 10 p.m. primetime talk show. The drama was forced to move into the 9 p.m. slot because of The Jay Leno Show.

“It ruined our numbers. The first four episodes, we were considerably down because nobody knew when the show was on. Finally, we’re starting to find our audience again.”

As a result of Jay’s low ratings, and the changing late night lineup, Mariska wishes the network would reconsider moving SVU back to its original time slot.

“I hope we go back to where we belong. It was doing so well. Why mess with it?”

Mariska opens up on being compared to her mother Jayne Mansfield, an iconic sex symbol and Hollywood star in the 1940s and ’50s.

“I can never compete, so I don’t try. It’s mega über, it’s legendary, it’s iconic. Being a sex symbol is not my thing; it’s not where I shine.”

Mariska comments on “losing her home too early” after the death of her mother.

“I’m getting it back through Peter and August, and, strangely, through the foundation. It’s about following the signs, listening to your inner voice. I’m living my life, and I know that this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Playing detective Olivia Benson is a hard job, and in October, Mariska landed awkwardly during a stunt and didn’t realize until months later that she had suffered a collapsed lung.

“I thought it was a pulled rib. I’m pretty tough. When I couldn’t breathe anymore, I got an X-ray, and they couldn’t believe I was walking… I was doing stunts when I was pregnant. I’d fall, jump on guys. Now there are scenes when I have to run, and I’ll only take a few steps. Everyone is super-careful of me.”

Mariska started the foundation Joyful Heart, which helps survivors of sexual assault and is an important cause in her life.

“Doing something about it takes away some of my sadness. We can get closer to cures by shining a light on [the abuse]. I liken it to what happened with AA 15 years ago, where there’s not a stigma to it. We’d love to see that happen to sexual assault.”

Mariska’s full cover story can be found in the February issue of More Magazine on newsstands January 26th.

[From OK! Magazine]

Sigh… I love Mariska. I find her very “real”. Maybe this isn’t who she really is, but give me my fantasy that she’s this cool and down-to-earth. I was really worried about her last year when she went into the hospital repeatedly, and I honestly thought it was something more serious than a collapsed lung – although that is serious, I just thought my girl was dying or something. Anyway, I’m glad that she’s doing well, I hope SVU returns to 10 p.m. and I hope they lose Christine Lahti’s number permanently.

More Magazine cover courtesy of Pop Crunch, additional photo courtesy of More online.

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33 Responses to “Mariska Hargitay on Jay Leno: he “ruined” Law & Order: SVU”

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  1. bite me says:

    love her

  2. sickofit says:

    love her too

  3. Stephie says:

    She’s great. Always comes across very real and down to earth in her interviews. Hope she’s feeling much better these days and I hope they move SVU back to it’s rightful time slot.

  4. Neelyo says:

    If you hated Christine Lahti you won’t be excited to hear that Sharon Stone is coming in for a multi-episode arc soon.

  5. lin234 says:

    I love SVU. She always strikes that balance between being tough and vulnerable. It’s awesome to hear that she has a foundation helping woman through such painful issues.

  6. Kaiser says:

    Neeylo – Are you serious?!? F-ck me, SVU needs a new casting director.

  7. lin234 says:

    Here’s the cherry on top: Mischa Barton is playing a pregnant hooker while Sharon Stone is a detective.

  8. Jeane says:

    I’ve yet to meet someone who DOESN’T love her!
    She is so gorgeous, by the way. Very expressive face and beautiful eyes. She is one of those actors I just love to watch, because she has such a natural presence on screen.

    By the way, her role as detective Benson would not have been believable if she had had a nose job and lost all that weight. I like that she is attractive, but “real” looking. Oh she is so my girl crush…

  9. Beth says:

    Leno destroyed the ratings for a lot of shows. I don’t love SVU as much as I used to and they have gone overboard with guest stars. They don’t one every show.

  10. lucy2 says:

    I haven’t watch SVU in years, but I’ve always really liked her, and think she’s lovely and real.

  11. reefdweller says:

    OMG whine. It (the show) was sooo bad we canceled our DVR auto-record. Everything was black-and-white, some plots were preaching causes to the audience, and Lahti was just an annoyance. DRAMA, people! Please!
    The last few have improved but the ratings drop had nothing to do with Leno. Still a long way to go…..

  12. lastwordlinda says:

    SVU really went downhill this year. The producers need to stick with the axiom “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Christine Lahti should have left her face alone. She was aging nicely and didn’t need to have all that work done. It looks awful. I have enjoyed watching Mariska morph from an ok actress to a really good one over the years. She is terrific and I am glad she has never left the show. She and Chris Meloni have great chemistry as partners.

  13. hatsumomo says:

    Gosh, I love her. People make fun of my looks and my nose too, but I still like the way I look and I’m pretty fricking unique. thank God she decided against altering her beautiful face.

  14. SolitaryAngel says:

    I think she’s a really beautiful woman and I like her in this interview—-that said, I have never seen a single episode of SVU. What am I missing?
    *ducks, covers head*

  15. Susette says:

    Love Mariska.
    Hated Lahti’s character.
    And Sharon Stone??! Just Noooooooooooo.

  16. Sudini says:

    Total girl crush! She’s just such a captivating presence and I love the strength she puts out there. Thanks for doing this piece – I’d love to see/hear more interviews from my girl ;)

  17. Peach says:

    Olivia is my girlfriend. We take walks through the park together sometimes. Eat popcorn and watch 1940′s thrillers. Then I cook chicken curry while she makes the veggie side dish and we watch Law and Order.

    She’s my boo.

    Funny aside: I once worked with a Hungarian who loved her for no other reason than her Hungarian father. And I also learned her name is pronounced Marishka not Mariska.
    Fun facts.
    About my boo.

  18. LolaBella says:

    Love Mariska!

    What a lucky woman she is; she works all day with that stud Chris Meloni and then she goes home to that sexy German Peter Hermann!

    That said, as much as I love SVU, it has been going downhill these last few seasons. What actually made me stop watching it was the entire Christine Lahti storyline! Ugh!

  19. mercymay says:

    I have a serious girl-crush on this woman! LOVE her!!!

  20. djork says:

    Jayne Mansfield had a career in the early to mid-1950s. Long downward spiral in the 1960s that consisted of Italian movies, crappy nightclubs and crappier boyfriends. Mariska was in the backseat of the car that crashed into the rear end of a truck and killed her mother.

  21. Really? says:

    She sets the HIGH standard for television actresses. I LOVE her. : )

  22. Kerri says:

    Love her and love SVU even more.

    Really don’t like that new DA – she rubs me the wrong way and makes me want to just switch the channel.

  23. paula cameron says:

    i love mariska! she is the perfect size and has a great style. she is someone the young girls can look up too

  24. Iggles says:

    Can’t they bring back Casey or Sam? They were pretty awesome DAs.

    Mariska is awesome! I love that she’s not afraid to be herself :D

  25. snapdragon says:

    she is lovely, and i like her character but i can’t handle SVU. i like criminal intent better, mainly because of vincent d’onofrio. great actor.

  26. Tru says:

    I’ve always thought she was gorgeous!

    love the ad w/her and her baby!

  27. SammyHammy says:

    Oh, then you’ll be unhappy next season, snapdragon…D’Onofrio is being written out of CI.

  28. mooncake says:

    beautiful woman!

  29. snapdragon says:

    “Oh, then you’ll be unhappy next season, snapdragon…D’Onofrio is being written out of CI.”

    i know, sammy. it sucks, but there are always reruns :)

  30. ab says:

    Love her! The show (SVU) disturbs me to no end because of the crimes,but I still watch and cry at the end all the time. Uhg! Are they really switching gears permenently on Criminal Intent, please no!

  31. Alexis says:

    Now THAT is real beauty, inside and out.

  32. NicoleAM says:

    I rarely comment on anybody’s offspring ’cause I’m not a big fan of children, but I remember seeing a pic of her son a while back, and he is utterly adorable! She looks great as always! (Nose job, my a$$, should’ve punched the bastard in the face!)