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The Character Everyone Forgets Mariska Hargitay Played On Seinfeld

Mariska Hargitay is a TV icon, known for her role as Olivia Benson on "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." Hargitay has become so well known in the role that it can be easy to forget that as a working actor, she has actually portrayed other characters, a phenomenon that often happens to actors on long-running, successful TV shows — and "SVU" certainly qualifies as both of those.

As it turns out, "Law and Order: SVU" was not the first time Hargitay was cast in an iconic NBC series set in New York City. Years before she ever began busting criminals with the Special Victims Unit, she played a character on "Seinfeld" that even many fans of that series might not remember. Read on to find out just who Hargitay played during her brief appearance on "Seinfeld" way back in 1993, during the show's fourth season, which depicts Jerry and George's adventures in getting a sitcom pilot on the NBC airwaves.

Mariska Hargitay played an actress auditioning for Seinfeld's show-within-a-show

If any "Law and Order: SVU" fans go back and watch 1993's "The Pilot," they might be surprised to see none other than Mariska Hargitay as an actress who auditions to play Elaine in "Jerry," the show-within-a-show being developed by Jerry and George. The basic joke of the scene is that Jerry steps in to read opposite Hargitay, hoping to make a connection with the striking-looking actress. But George, of course, has his own agenda, and she doesn't get the part.

It's a very brief appearance from Hargitay, and those used to her "SVU" character might not even recognize her in the role, but the scene itself is quite memorable and she's tough to miss once you're on the lookout for her.

Interestingly, that might not be the full extent of Hargitay's connection to "Seinfeld," or to the part of Elaine. According to some sources (including Showbiz Cheat Sheet), Hargitay's appearance in "The Pilot" as an actress auditioning to play Elaine was a kind of callback to a few years earlier, when the real Hargitay auditioned for the role of Elaine on the real-life "Seinfeld" series. That may or may not be true, but if it is, it adds another somewhat dizzying layer of metafiction to the fourth season of "Seinfeld."