Mariska Hargitay was mistaken for a police officer by a little girl who lost her mom

Well here’s a sweet little tale of good samaritanship: last week Mariska Hargitay was on set in a New York City public park filming Law & Order: SVU, when a little girl who’d lost her mother ran up to her for help. The girl saw Captain Olivia Benson’s badge and thought Mariska was a police officer! And if your next question is, “did the little girl find her mom?” Well then you don’t know Olivia Benson! Of course Mariska stopped production to reunite parent and child. Another case closed.

Mariska Hargitay doesn’t just star as a heroic detective saving people’s lives onscreen — she also steps into those shoes in real life, too.

While filming one of the final episodes of season 25 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in New York City on April 10, Hargitay, 60, was approached by a little girl who believed her to be a real police officer based on the badge she wore as part of her character’s outfit.

A witness tells PEOPLE that the little girl had been separated from her mother in the Anne Loftus Playground in Fort Tryon Park and enlisted Hargitay for help. The actress obliged, halting production for 20 minutes to help the child locate her mother and to console them both.

The little girl was completely oblivious to the film crew — and to Hargitay’s scene partner, Ice-T — the witness notes, as she believed Hargitay to be an on-duty police officer.

Ahead of the premiere of the long-running drama series’ 25th season in January, Hargitay spoke to PEOPLE about the show’s historic run as her character, Olivia Benson, became the longest-running character on a prime-time drama series. The show also became the longest-running drama series in TV history.

“We’ve been on a parallel journey,” she said. “There’s a thing: WWOBD, ‘What would Olivia Benson do?’ The fans would always talk about it, and one day it hit me. I also have those moments where I’ve sort of slipped into her. If there’s a crisis, I just take over and lead like that. Being strong and fearless. It’s sort of this perfect feminist story.”

[From People]

I don’t know about you, but this was exactly the kind of adorable, feel-good story I needed this week. That girl really couldn’t have done better than to enlist Mariska Hargitay for help. Not only has Mariska been playing Olivia Benson for years — I didn’t realize it was 25 though, holy cow! — she’s brought the best of Benson into her personal life. In 2004 she founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, a nonprofit that supports survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Not that every actor should be setting up foundations connected to their signature characters, but with Mariska it seems like genuine passion and compassion. Through Joyful Heart she spearheaded a truly impactful campaign to end the rape-kit backlog. Whether we’re lost or not, we could all do with turning to Mariska for direction.

photos credit: IMAGO/MediaPunch / Avalon and Backgrid

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13 Responses to “Mariska Hargitay was mistaken for a police officer by a little girl who lost her mom”

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  1. Digital Unicorn says:

    I love the whole Law and Order franchise esp one hot silver fox called Jack McCoy (Sam Masterson can get it too).

    Can’t believe SUV is still going strong – they have a good cast of actors and characters.

  2. JanetDR says:

    I stopped watching at some point. I stopped everything that dark before bedtime. But I’ve never lost my love for Mariska as Olivia 💗 Great story!

  3. SarahCS says:

    This is delightful! Thank you for covering it.

  4. LongThymeLurker says:

    I saw them filming SVU in NYC about 8 years ago and Mariska is even more beautiful in person, but this story made my heart happy to reinforce she is even more beautiful inside. Thanks for the great article!

  5. Charter says:

    Having never watched that show I only know Olivia Benson as T Swizzle’s cat.. No idea it was based on a TV person. But that’s a cute story!

  6. Bettyrose says:

    I love the symbolism in this story, a lost little girl able to find s powerful woman to help her. When I was a kid approaching a cop almost certainly meant a man and that was a lot more intimidating.

  7. Ms single malt says:

    You can really see her mother’s features in Mariska Hargitay. So sad that Jayne Mansfield died so young. Tragic. Losing your mother as. a child shapes you. It’s beautiful that Mariska Hargitay has found success in the industry.

    • mycatlovestv says:

      If you look at Jayne Mansfield’s photos as a young woman, the resemblance is remarkable. I love Mariska’s character and SVU in general. I sometimes stream the show from the first season just to see how far everybody has grown.

  8. Aidee Kay says:

    I don’t watch SUV but I love this story!! I think it’s more than the actress’ badge was visible — in character, she must have been projecting authority, leadership, and competence. It was those qualities the little girl needed and she ran right up to the strong smart woman in charge for help. Good job little girl!!!!

  9. Dani says:

    Aww, great story. I love MH!

  10. BQM says:

    SVU also brought mariska her very handsome hubby Peter Hermann , a familiar guest star on so many different shows.

    Mariska wrote an essay in January detailing her own acquaintance rape when she was younger. Even after playing Olivia for so long she hadn’t come to terms with it before. Even minimizing it for the longest time. She said founding Joyful Heart and doing the work on the outside helped her come to terms with it on the inside.

  11. SamuelWhiskers says:

    I love her so much! But I’m also mad they fired Kelli Giddish, even though they gave her character a great exit.