Law & Order: SVU has been on the air for nearly 20 years and the show is showing no signs of slowing down. Over those nearly 20 years, the show has captivated audiences with episodes that deal with very uncomfortable material, but at the same time it has shone a spotlight on the issues surrounding sexual assaults and crimes against the most vulnerable of victims.
Some of the episodes can be quite difficult to watch, and the subject matter strikes us right in the core of our beings, but that seems to be what makes the show great. But apart from the plot lines, the long time characters, and the public sentiment, there is a still a ton that goes on behind the scenes that people just don't realize.
Here are 8 facts about Law & Order: SVU that most people don't know.
1. The "Voice" of SVU is actually a former politician.
We all know the intro that leads into every episode of Law & Order:
“In the criminal justice system, sexually-based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories.”
The voice is quite haunting to be honest, but did you know that the man behind it, Steve Zirnkilton, was actually first hired to fill a small role on an episode of Law & Order? He was in the pilot episode (which is also the only one that he didn't narrate), but the creator of the show liked his voice so much that the was hired to permanently introduce each episode.
It was his big break that has also lead to him appearing on Family Guy, and even the Rugrats Movie. Funny enough, he was also a Republican member of Maine's House of Representative for eight years.
2. "Special Victims Unit" wasn't the first choice for the show's title.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit sounds smooth, and it doesn't get anyone up in arms over the possible content of the show. But for a long time, the show's working title was going to be Sex Crimes. As you can imagine, the network had issues with this because they thought that the audience would become uncomfortable with it, which would then lead to a loss in revenue from advertising.
The show's creator, Dick Wolf just figured that Special Victims Unit seemed more inclusive.
3. Mariska Hargitay has taken her TV role to heart.
Hargitay who plays the show's main protagonist, Olivia Benson, is also trained a rape crisis counselor in real life. After working on the show for a while she began to realize that the system surrounding these crimes, and the support for victims was (and still is) a mess. Hargitay even founded the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004, which works to help survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.
4. Ice-T really connected with the cast.
Former rapper Ice-T has been a part of SVU for years, even though he was originally only signed on for four episodes. He was signed to fill in for a character who left the show in the short term, but he did great and got along with the cast so well that they decided to keep him on long term.
5. A celebrity pet is named after Detective Olivia Benson.
Taylor Swift is a social media darling, and in 2014 she used her Instagram account to tell her fans that she had gotten a new kitten and named it Olivia Benson after the SVU character. Swift has spoken with Hargitay on numerous occasions, and even gave her and her husband a ride home from an event when they found themselves stuck.
6. Mariska Hargitay is a distinguished linguist.
Apart from being a spectacular actress and overall human being, Hargitay is also a well educated woman. It turns out that she is actually fluent in five different languages: English, French, Spanish, Hungarian and Italian.
7. Several Oscar winning actors and actresses have made guest appearances on the show.
Being a guest star on a episode of SVU seems to be a bit of a trend, and dozens of well known players have had the experience, even several Oscar winners. This list includes: Robin Williams, Jeremy Irons, Marlee Matlin, Marcia Gay Harden, Whoopi Goldberg, Olympia Dukakis, Angela Lansbury, and Ellen Burstyn.
8. Not everyone is a fan of the show.
Because SVU tends to pick up topics that are hot in the media and social conversation for inspiration for their episodes, several groups have tried to get them to get off that train. Two organizations that have been particularly outspoken against some of the subject matter are the Catholic Church and the NFL, for obvious reasons.
What was your favorite episode of SVU? Let us know in the comments.