Law and Order SVUs Mariska Hargitay pays tribute to favourite late co-star ‘Huge heart

Law and Order SVU: NBC release trailer for episode nine

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The long-running NBC hit has played host to some of the biggest A-listers in Hollywood, such as Alec Baldwin, Zoe Saldana and Whoopi Goldberg. Back in 2008, beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams played against type as one of Law and Order’s most complex villains, and Olivia Benson star Mariska Hargitay has paid tribute to his performance.

Mariska confirmed Robin was her favourite guest star to work with over her long career as Law and Order: Special Victim Unit’s main lead.

Best known for his comedic roles in films such as Mrs Doubtfire and Aladdin, the movie star took on a number of darker projects in his later life.

Among them was his turn as Merritt Rook, a troubled anti-authoritarian activist whose life takes a drastic turn after the death of his wife and child.

In the 200th episode of the hit spin-off, Authority, Merritt kidnapped Olivia and pretended to torture her to test her partner, Elliot Stabler (played by Christopher Meloni).

Merritt fled the scene after triggering an explosion and was presumed to have leapt into the East River, whereupon he most likely drowned.

Speaking to TV Insider about the show’s legacy, Law and Order star Mariska heaped praise onto Robin’s stirring and sympathetic performance as the one-off villain.

When asked about her favourite guest star, she confirmed: “Robin Williams. It was being in the presence of true greatness.”

Not only did the comedy star deliver one of the best guest performances in the show’s history, but he was apparently also a delight to work with behind the scenes.

“He had this huge heart,” Mariska recalled.

“The set photographer captured Robin playing with my son, August, with a smile from ear to ear.”

Robin died in 2014 at the age of 63 and has been fondly remembered by his Hollywood friends and co-stars.

His last role was voicing Dennis the Dog in Terry Jones’ Absolutely Anything, while he last appeared in live-action in the adventure sequel Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb – both were released posthumously.

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Mariska also highlighted a guest spot in 2002 for an episode she credited with introducing her to her husband, Younger’s Peter Hermann.

“John Ritter was another great light,” she said. “I met my husband on that episode!”

Sitcom star John was best known for his main role in Three’s Company and later voiced Clifford the Big Red Dog in the kids’ animated series.

In his Law and Order episode, another well-known comic took on a darker persona, this time as Richard Manning, who unknowingly killed his own child in the season three episode, Monogamy.

SVU has become the longest-running primetime drama in the US, with another season already confirmed after the conclusion of this year’s outing.

The wildly successful crime drama has more recently welcomed the likes of Donal Logue, Tamara Tunie and former SVU regulars Danny Pino and Dann Florek.

With another instalment already in the works, fans can expect Benson and Stabler to cross paths with even more familiar faces over the coming years.

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit season 23 continues Thursdays on NBC in the USA. A UK release date is yet to be announced.

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