Mariska Hargitay Met Her Husband Peter Hermann On the Set of "SVU"

Elena Nicolaou
·7 mins read
Photo credit: Toni Anne Barson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Toni Anne Barson - Getty Images

From Oprah Magazine

  • Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order: SVU has been married to Younger's Peter Hermann for over 15 years.

  • The long-lasting celebrity couple met on the set of Law and Order: SVU during the show's second season.

  • Today, they have three children: Amaya Josephine, 9; Andrew Nicolas, 9, and August Miklos, 14.

Let's be honest: Law and Order: SVU is not known for being a particularly romantic show. But, like Rihanna said, some people find love in a hopeless place–including Mariska Hargitay and her husband, Peter Hermann, who met on the grim procedural's set back in 2001.

Ever since, it's been a match made in TV fandom heaven. Hargitay, 56, has starred as Lieutenant Olivia Benson on Law and Order: SVU for 21 seasons and counting; Hermann, 53, is beloved for playing the dashing editor Charles Brooks on Younger (speaking of which, can season 7 get here soon?).

Coming up on their 16th anniversary in August, they're among Hollywood's most rock-solid—and, if you ask us, sweetest—couples, as the many pictures of them gazing at each other show. Frankly, Hargitay would probably agree with our assessment: She's always been forthcoming with her love for her husband. In fact, while speaking to People, Hargitay described their love as instant. "It was like getting hit with a lightning bolt,” she said of their first date.

Here's what you need to know about Mariska Hargitay and Peter Hermann's marriage.

They met filming season 2 of Law and Order: SVU.

Back in 2002, Hermann was cast as defense attorney Trevor Langan in Law and Order: SVU. Naturally, his path crossed with the star, Mariska Hargitay. Over the years, Hermann has appeared on SVU regularly. His character, Trevor, even went on a date with ADA Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March)but nothing matches his off-camera romance with Hargitay.

Photo credit: NBC - Getty Images
Photo credit: NBC - Getty Images

Hargitay cried happy tears throughout their first date.

When filming wrapped, Hermann invited Hargitay on a first date—to church. The pair had been discussing religion when he suggested the idea. "I just about passed out when I saw him there," Hargitay told InStyle. "I thought, that's my husband."

During the church service, Hargitay was overwhelmed by emotion. Speaking to People, she said she recognized, then and there, that Hermann was her future husband. “I just started sobbing. Peter thought I was crying because I was so moved by the service,” she said. “No, it was because I was just overwhelmed, realizing he was the one.”

Many years later, Hargitay described the feeling of certainty to TODAY in greater detail. “I cried because I was feeling something that I’d never felt before, but I kind of knew what it was. When you’re a little girl, your parents and your grandparents and everyone goes, ‘When you’re in love, you’ll know.’ And I did,” she said.

Photo credit: L. Busacca - Getty Images
Photo credit: L. Busacca - Getty Images

Hermann is known for Younger, and for some very memorable commercials.

You either know Hermann as Charles Brooks, the publishing mogul seen in TV Land's Younger—or as the guy in the Persil ProClean commercials. If only the laundry detergent came with an IRL appearance of the 6'5" actor.

They had a very New York courtship.

After meeting on set, Hargitay and Hermann proceeded to have a very New York romance—fitting, considering SVU is one of the ultimate New York shows. Speaking to Page Six, Hermann recalled walking to his apartment on West 36th street, and encountering a literal herd of rats . "The only thing I could say to this woman I loved, and whom I would eventually marry, was, 'New York!'"

In 2004, Hargitay and Hermann tied the knot in a Santa Barbara church.

They got married at the Unitarian Historical Chapel in Santa Barbara. The ceremony was sprinkled with details that were specific to the couple. Hargitay wore a pale pink Carolina Herrera gown, with the groom’s initials and the wedding date embroidered into the lining.

“They’re mad about each other,” Yifat Oren, the couple's wedding planner, told People at the time. “And they’re hilariously funny together.”

Photo credit: Gregory Pace - Getty Images
Photo credit: Gregory Pace - Getty Images

Now, they're parents to three children.

Hargitay and Hermann's family has grown over the years. Their first son, August, was born in 2006, when Hargitay was 42. The couple adopted their next two children, Amaya and Andrew.

Speaking to Good Housekeeping, Hargitay revealed that adoption was always part of their plan. "August wanted siblings, and Peter and I both envisioned this big family because we both come from that. Plus, we just had so much love to give," Hargitay told Good Housekeeping. Hargitay recalled that Amaya's birth mother told her, "'I know this is right. You are this baby's mother,'" the first time they met.

Their son, Andrew, came into their lives soon after they adopted newborn Amaya. Their lawyer called them to ask about Amaya, and to inform them that a baby boy, born two months premature, was available for adoption.

Photo credit: Slaven Vlasic - Getty Images
Photo credit: Slaven Vlasic - Getty Images

"I don't really know what to say about it, other than it was a no-brainer. Peter and I both thought, Let's do it! I'm in! It was like...a miracle. And I don't use that word lightly. I've never made a bigger decision so quickly. The whole thing happened in a total of two days," Hargitay said. They named their son after a good friend, Andrew, who had recently passed away.

Speaking to People in 2020, Hargitay called being a mom “the most important thing I’ll ever do.”

Photo credit: Michael Tran - Getty Images
Photo credit: Michael Tran - Getty Images

Hermann supports Hargitay in her career and activism.

On the show Law and Order: SVU, Hargitay plays a woman who comes face-to-face with the ramifications horrific crimes, including sexual assault. In real life, Hargitay has become an advocate for survivors of these crimes—largely because of the show.

"She received hundreds, then thousands of letters and emails from survivors disclosing their stories of abuse, many for the first time. She wanted to answer—really answer—those letters, to address the suffering they described, and honor acts of courage they represented. Her response was to create the Joyful Heart Foundation," the website for Hargitay's charity, which advocates for survivors, reads.

In 2017, Hargitay produced the illuminating HBO documentary I Am Evidence, about the shocking number of untested rape kits. Ahead of the documentary's premiere, Hargitay credited Hermann for making the project possible.

"Your constant support and love throughout the making of IAE humbled me, and I’m so grateful. Thank you for watching every cut, for your great eye, your notes and your intelligence. And your big, beautiful heart. Building your dreams is like building a house—it requires patience, loving care, and a solid foundation. To the other halves out there: you make the dream possible," she wrote on Instagram.

Through her charity, Hargitay has worked with presidential candidate Joe Biden since 2013. On the third night of the Democratic National Convention, Hargitay will address the backlog of untested rape kits. One thing's for sure: Hermann will be cheering her on throughout her appearance.

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