Today, Mariska Hargitay plays TV’s longest-running character, the crusading Lieutenant Olivia Benson, on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit — but even she’s experienced a few setbacks in her career.
During an appearance on Monday’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, the actress recalled a time when she got fired from the 1995 movie Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. She told the story after host Seth Meyers congratulated her on the fact that Law & Order: SVU secured its spot as the longest-running primetime live-action series in history earlier this year when NBC renewed the highly-acclaimed drama for a 21st season.
“I didn’t always have such a great working record,” Hargitay, 55, said with a laugh. “It’s just funny to hear about the longest-running character, the longest-running TV show, but it didn’t start out like that.”
After Meyers, 45, pulled up photos of Hargitay as Queen Dulcea from the movie (showing off some killer abs!), the actress explained how she ended up getting fired from the film.
“I was going to be the queen,” she said. “I think her name was Dulcea or Dulcenea. But I was so excited because I was going to Australia to play this queen. I get there — hair, makeup, prosthetics, pieces, walking around like that, feeling pretty good.”
“I was there for November, and then December, and then we were getting close to Christmas. And they had me on hold a lot,” she continued. “Finally, around Dec. 21, I said, ‘Hey guys, this is great, but you kept me on hold too long, I’ve got to go. It’s Christmas! I think that’s only fair.'”
Hargitay said she flew home for the holidays, then reached back out to producers in early January.
“I call them and I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m ready!’ ” she said. “And they were like, ‘Sweetie, you’re good, don’t worry about it.’ They fired me. Because I wanted to go home for Christmas and be with my family.”
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Her character was recast, with the role ultimately going to Australian actress Gabrielle Fitzpatrick.
Asked if she learned a lesson from the experience, Hargitay joked, “I watch my Ps and Qs on SVU now. And when they say, ‘We need you,’ I say, ‘I’m there and I’m ready!'”
“So far, so good,” she added.
Late Night with Seth Meyers airs weeknights (12:35 a.m. ET) and Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays (10 p.m. ET), both on NBC.