Mariska Hargitay

Don't worry Olivia Benson fans. Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay says she'll keep solving crimes on the NBC drama next season.

"It's looking that way," Hargitay confirmed to TV Guide Magazine on Sunday at a benefit in Los Angeles for her Joyful Heart Foundation, which supports survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. "I think the writing is great. I absolutely love my cast. I think Danny Pino [Det. Amaro] has invigorated that show. [Guest star] Harry [Connick Jr.] has reinvigorated me. And dealing with these issues is more than a TV show to me. It excites me to be on a show that sheds light on darkness. With the combination of SVU and Joyful Heart, my life is really complete and extremely fulfilling, because we watch people's lives change right in front of us."

It's a good thing there's another season to come, especially now that the relationship between Benson and Connick's character, David Haden, is heating up. "It's going to get complicated, though," warns Hargitay. "But when Chris Meloni was around there was no way Olivia could ever be with anybody else. Now that he's gone, I think she has room in her heart."

As long as she also makes room to solve cases. "The case we're about to work on is one that deals with Fleet Week, and sailors that may or may not be responsible for a rape," Pino reveals. "Amaro starts to realize that maybe the original attacker wasn't really guilty. He starts to look at the new evidence and starts to question [the original investigation]." Mark Consuelos will guest star as a potential suspect.

But re-opening a case won't score Amaro any points with his new colleagues. "There are some fireworks involved, since he's one of the new guys and he's coming in questioning what the unit has been doing in the past. You can imagine it doesn't go over well," Pino says. "But I think he does achieve communication, and there's a catharsis within the unit — 'We're really a team. It's not about going after each other, it's about going after justice and doing what's right.' And ultimately we all come out as winners."

Although Pino previously worked on Cold Case, another procedural drama dealing with violent crimes, the actor admits that SVU has been a different experience emotionally. "On Cold Case you were dealing with a box of evidence. Here you're dealing with someone who's very much alive," he says. "It's surprising with what the show is about how much fun we have [off screen]. I think we have to keep it light on set, because the themes that we're dealing with are so tragic."

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