Actress Mariska Hargitay stopped by NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday morning to discuss the return of "Law & Order: SVU" from its mid-season break.
The show left off with Hargitay's character Detective Olivia Benson continuing to fight through a physically and emotionally difficult ordeal, caused by being tortured and held hostage. She escaped and beat her captor with an iron rod. She remains haunted by the experience as her torturer awaits trial.
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Hargitay said the show feels like a whole new animal after the last few seasons and after her character's ordeal.
"I think it's been a journey," Hargitay told "Today."
"I think the writing changes now that we have new show runners. It feels to me like a different show now, which I think is a great thing. After 15 years the show feels so unbelievably fresh, and that's a gift."
The mid-season opener pits Benson against her attacker in a courtroom, and Hargitay said she will face the monster.
"I read this and I thought, this is one of the best scripts I'd ever read — so complicated and so painful," Hargitay said "Today."
Though her attacker may learn his fate, Benson still has a ways to go, as she deals with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"It's not that simple, I think," Hargitay said. "What she went through I don't know that she can recover from. It has changed her. She's still fighting PTSD."
The winter premiere of "Law & Order: SVU" is scheduled to air Wednesday at 9 p.m. on NBC. The show was created in the style of the original "Law & Order" program, which has since been canceled. "SVU" debuted in 1999 and is in its 15th season.
Off-camera, Hargitay was honored in November when she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
next to her late mother, Jayne Mansfield. As a young girl, she and her two siblings were in the 1967 car crash that killed Mansfield and two others.
"It was incredibly emotional," Hargitay told "Today." "It was surprisingly one of the most emotional and beautiful days I can remember. My mom got a star. All the photos that I've seen of her with my brother and my sister there, and there I was on that day with my with my brother and my sister. It was an incredibly bonding moment, and I felt very, very surprisingly close to my mom."
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