Mariska Hargitay, Off the Cuff

Mariska Hargitay is back for her ninth season as Detective Olivia Benson, one of the toughest women on primetime, in "Law and Order: SVU." She spoke with Nicki Gostin.

NEWSWEEK: DO you ever turn on the TV and say, "I can't believe it's on again."
HARGITAY:
I was in Hawaii and I flipped on the TV and it was on. I was like, "Argh, I can't get away from it." I turned it off and ran outside and of course people were like, "Oh my God you're on TV right now!"

But still, ka-ching. Don't you get residuals?
I don't know. Probably.

What do you mean you don't know? That's how celebs get ripped off by their accountants.
I don't like to think that way.

Cops must love you. You must never get tickets.
The cops in New York and L.A. have been, how shall I say, very patient. I've gotten a couple of warnings but they've been very gracious. There's definitely a bond, a rapport, with law enforcement.

You had a baby at 42. What are the good things about being an older mom?
I think you're just old enough to get it and appreciate it. When I was younger I was so much more focused on my career, trying to get ahead, will I ever make it, blah, blah, blah. And now I get to focus on August as much as I can.

What are the downsides?
The downside is I want to have five more.

Tick tock.
Yeah, a little tick-tocking action at work here.

What about harder to bend down?
Not yet, thank God.

You speak a couple of languages.
I can get by. I grew up learning Italian and Hungarian because we spent our summers there. But I don't use them as much.

Really? You don't have much use to speak Hungarian?
Exactly, right?

Would you say after Zsa Zsa you're the most famous Hungarian actress?
Without a doubt!

But then again, who's your competition?
You don't have to mention that part!