Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) is the heart and soul of Law & Order: SVU. She’s anchored the show since day one, and guided fans through the highs and lows that have come with each new case. Calling her a veteran and a mentor to the younger officers who have arrived in her wake would be an understatement.
Of course, Benson’s level of authority begs a few questions. Namely, how long has she been on the job? How old is she in comparison to her peers?
Here’s what you need to know.
How old is Mariska Hargitay on Law & Order: SVU?
Most TV characters are given vague backstories, so as not to contradict future storylines or step on the real-life ages of the actors playing them. Benson is an exception to the rule. We’ve learned tons about the character since SVU premiered, including the exact date of her birth: February 7, 1968.
We know because Olivia Benson’s mother, Serena (Elizabeth Ashley), was assaulted and Olivia was the result of said assault. This puts the character’s age at 54 years old. The showrunners and writers have done a pretty good job adhering to the continuity they set up with Benson, including the fact that she’s a few years younger than Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and that she had been on the job for about a year when SVU started.
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Interestingly, Benson is younger than the actor who plays her. Mariska Hargitay was born January 23, 1964, which actually makes her 58. It’s understandable why the writers would want to slightly age the character down, not only for the purpose of her mother’s backstory (and the context of the time period), but to ensure that the issue of retirement gets pushed back as long as possible.
Hargitay, meanwhile, is charting a historic path in terms of playing the same character for an extended period of time. With the premiere of SVU‘s 21st season, Benson became the longest running prime-time live-action character of all time, surpassing Marshall Matt Dillon (Gunsmoke) and Frasier Crane (Cheers, Frasier). Not bad, not bad at all.
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