Law & Order: SVU Star Mariska Hargitay Breaks Silence on Major Cast Exit

Law & Order: SVU star Marika Hargitay is opening up about the departure of series star Kelli Giddish ahead of Season 24 of the series. Giddish, who has played Detective Amanda Rollins since 2011, announced in August that she would be departing the series after 12 seasons.

"Oh god, Kelli. I love Kelli, she's my girl," Hargitay, who is also an executive producer on 'SVU', told ET. "She is one of my favorite actors that I've ever worked with, and we got to build something really beautiful together and really earned together because our characters had quite a journey. It wasn't so easy at the beginning and then we just fell into this beautiful safety, trust."

She continued, "That was a hard one. I will miss that because she was my go-to, my right hand, the woman that I could talk to. Olivia Benson's out there taking care of everyone else, and she was somebody that really took care of me and had my back. Even though Fin has my back and Stabler has my back, it's different to have a woman have your back because it's a different perspective."

"I'm gonna miss her a lot, but she's a lifelong friend and I'm just glad that our paths crossed, and I know they'll continue to cross," Hargitay said.

In August, Giddish took to Instagram to announce her departure from the show, writing, "I wanted to address the chatter I've seen online and let everyone know that this will, indeed, be my last season on 'Law & Order: SVU.' Playing Rollins has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life. I've been so fortunate to be a part of the 'Law & Order' family for the last 12 years. There is simply no other character on TV like Rollins. She's grown and changed, and I have as well. I started on this show when I was in my late 20s and I'm grateful I got to spend so many of my adult years with Rollins in my life."

"I want to thank Dick Wolf, Mariska Hargitay, Peter Jankowski, NBC, Universal Television, all of my co-stars, every single member on the crew and all the writers here for our incredible work together these last 12 years. I'm so excited to take all the things I have learned in my time on 'SVU' and put them toward everything that's next to come."

Giddish's Rollins has long been a fan-favorite character and the announcement of her departure has received substantial backlash, with some reports indicating that the exit was not Giddish's choice, nor a decision made by new SVU showrunner David Graziano. Graziano has also spoken out about the decision, calling it "more complex" than it appears, while also praising Giddish as one of the "finest industry professionals".

"You might take a moment to entertain the idea that things are more complex than they appear in a world of emojis and tweets," Graziano write. "All I'll say is Kelli has handled this with the most incredibly classy comportment. She is, without a doubt, one of the finest industry professionals I've come across in my 24 years of writing television. I'm saddened by her looming exit. It'll be my lucky day if I ever get to write for her again."

Law & Order: SVU has its season 24 premiere on NBC on September 22nd at 9 PM EST.