Mariska Hargitay gives us “More”

Whether you align with Team Coco or Team Leno, you have to admit that having Jay on every night caused a very serious problem: Mariska Hargitay deficiency.

Fortunately, the lonely nights spent searching for Law & Order: SVU are almost over. SVU returns to Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET after the Winter Olympic games wrap. The fact that Hargitay asked for precisely that in the new issue of More is pure coincidence. (I think.)

Hargitay spared no words in her opinion of Leno’s bumping her show to an earlier hour. “It ruined our numbers,” she says bluntly. “The first four episodes, we were considerably down because nobody knew when the show was on.”

The interview went to press before The Jay Leno Show was cancelled, but Hargitay was quite aware of Leno’s low ratings. “I hope we go back to where we belong.” She’s a fortuneteller, that one.

Although the star is now one of the most-loved and highest-paid women in prime time, Hargitay wasn’t an instant success. In her early days in Hollywood, she constantly was told she had the wrong look — or the wrong hair color.

“The second half of my twenties, I don’t think I got a job. It was so rough that I wanted to quit.” But her father, Hungarian-born bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, would say, “No, we don’t quit in this family.” Thank you, Mr. Hargitay.

Mariska had some big, um, shoes to fill. Her mom was bombshell Jayne Mansfield, who died in a car wreck when Hargitay was three.

“I can never compete, so I don’t try,” Mariska said. “I think I’m a very attractive person, but I don’t put myself in the realm of the beauty. That’s not where I get my esteem. I’m a size 8, and I feel proud of that, because it’s healthy. I’ve never felt compelled to be a skinny actress.”

Let’s hear it for the curves.

Hargitay also talked about the after-effects of the injury she suffered in 2008 that forced her to surrender her badge for a while. “There are scenes where I have to run and I’ll only take a few steps. Everyone is super-careful of me.”

I hope she’s careful of herself, too. Because SVU needs her — and so do I.

Will you be happy to see Mariska and SVU back in a later time-slot?

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