Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni are opening up about their decades-long friendship on and off-camera.
The two Law and Order: Special Victims Unit stars spoke to PEOPLE and EW’s Red Carpet Live preshow co-hosts Janine Rubenstein and Jeremy Parsons Monday about reuniting years after Meloni’s departure from the show.
“Never been better,” Meloni, 61, said of the phase he and Hargitay, 58, are in, before joking. “I mean if you had told me I’d have the career I have at this time in … the twilight of my life.”
He added, “Its just a dream come true.”
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When asked about how the two maintained their onscreen chemistry after all these years, the two agreed that it’s “effortless.”
“We’re very lucky,” Meloni said.
“It’s effortless, and it’s weird, and I always look at it as some sort of gift,” Hargitay said. “So much of it has to do with our shared sense of humor, shared perspective, our current history.”
And do they ever get tired of working together, after a quarter-century of being costars? “Never once!” Hargitay added on the E! preshow. “I love him!”
Mark Von Holden/NBC via Getty Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay
The two then spoke about the impact SVU has had on audiences for its nearly 25 years on television.
Hargitay has starred in that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Detective Benson since it premiered in 1999. Meloni played her partner Detective Stabler until leaving the show in 2011. He returned to the franchise last year with his own spin-off series Law & Order: Organized Crime.
“There’s meaning in the stories we tell because unbeknownst to many of us there are a quiet many out there who hold things that have happened to them,” Meloni said of responses they’ve received about the show.
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He added, “The SVU shines the light in the dark places.”
Hargitay added later on that she feels its “a privilege to be part of something that’s truly ‘a vehicle for good.’ “
Meloni and Hargitay previously opened up to PEOPLE about their onscreen chemistry and reuniting in front of the camera for the crossover event that also brought Meloni back to SVU for several episodes. “It was Pavlovian: Ring that bell, and you get right into Stabler and Benson,” he said last February.
“There was so much shorthand between us, which all goes back to the trust we have,” Hargitay mused. “He’s always made me feel like I could just jump off the ledge, the cliff, the bridge, and he would catch me, in so many ways, whether it was comedy or acting or friendship.”
Meloni added: “It’s simple. We have each other’s back.”
The two will be presenting the Emmy Award tonight for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series.
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The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards are being broadcast live on NBC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.