WHEN I arrive at Mariska Hargitay’s apartment in New York City, I am afraid I have the wrong address. Next to the door is a beat-up Spider-Man scooter, and as soon as I ring the bell, feet pound and a woman screams, “Just a minute!” When the door finally opens, I am greeted by a baby’s butt.
“Come in, come in,” Hargitay calls out in her husky-lusty voice. She swings the infant, a coffee-colored dumpling in a pink gingham sundress, to her hip and offers me her free hand to shake. I take it but step back. Unlike any other famous person I’ve ever met, Hargitay is bigger than I expected—basketball player tall, with swimmer’s shoulders and Michelle Obama biceps. And unlike the emotionally damaged detective she plays on TV, Hargitay is smiley. Super smiley. Or maybe the baby has cast some sort of spell on her, because when I introduce myself, the Emmy winner responds by introducing not herself but her six-month-old daughter, whose name is Amaya.
Of course, Hargitay is within her rights to be a little dazed right now. A new baby is only one of the changes she’s adjusting to. The other is the near-total revamp of the TV series she has starred in for 12 years, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Last spring her costar and close friend Chris Meloni left the show; his absence was filled by not one but two actors, Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish, each at least a decade younger than Hargitay. Andre Braugher, whose most recent credit is TNT’s Men of a Certain Age, also joined SVUas a defense attorney. And with the exit of executive producer Neal Baer, Warren Leight took over as an executive producer andshow runner.
With all the transitions, there were even rumors that Hargitay’s own role in the series might change. But as she settles onto a sleigh sofa in a sitting room painted the red-orange of a Hawaiian sunset, Hargitay really wants to talk about what is literally pressing on her heart: her daughter.
Read the rest of Mariska's story in the November issue of More, on newsstands now!
AMANDA ROBB wrote “To Hell with Inner Beauty” in the October issue of More.
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