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After 11 years, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) reunited on “Law & Order: Organized Crime” after a devastating personal loss.

In the Variety Streaming Room, Variety‘s Cynthia Littleton sits down with Hargitay and Meloni to discuss how their character’s relationship has evolved over the years.

Described as one of the great platonic couples in primetime television by Littleton, Hargitay and Meloni’s characters have been able to build a strong dynamic relationship over time, yet have always kept it professional. Meloni said he finds the “multifaceted relationship and engagement” between the two characters very satisfying.

“I think it is very human in that faults of the characters come out, and their pasts come out and inform how they engage each other,” Meloni said. “And those are, to me, some of the cornerstones of what we built with these two.”

Hargitay, who described the relationship between the two characters as “utterly effortless and utterly earned,” said it was painful when Meloni left the show in May 2011 because there was no closure.

“We went through so much in the first 12 years and dug so deep and had a very full relationship and a very honest one and brave one,” Hargitay said. “I think we’re pretty locked in and dialed into each other, and so that’s been a joy and a pleasure to find.”

Returning to the role, Meloni said he had to figure out where his character was in his evolution. When asked if there could be a romance that buds between the two characters, Meloni said there’s a world where that could happen, but it would have to be earned.

“You have to be where they are right now and what they have to grapple with personally and professionally. And I would argue, especially Stabler, it’s miles down the road,” Meloni said.

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