Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay spiked the pulse rates of "Law & Order" fans last month with a steamy-looking rehearsal shot of them looking like they were about to kiss.
They shared the story behind that racy photo and even did an impromptu re-creation on TODAY ahead of Thursday's season premieres of "Law & Order: SVU" and "Law & Order: Organized Crime."
"Our eyesight just got so bad that it's the old, 'Is that you? Is that you?'" Meloni joked about the intimate scene.
The answer everyone wants to know is whether it's a hint that Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson are finally going to be romantically involved this season after 20-plus years as partners and friends.
"It's all underneath percolating," Hargitay said. "Right now after Stabler being gone for 10 years and the way that he left and the complexity of what's happened and how he came back surprising me, we're still finding our way.
"But it's complex and real, and I think what I love about it most is that it's earned. This relationship is truly earned. Not a lot of people have a 23-year relationship."
Stabler was seen uttering the words "I love you" to Benson during an episode of "Organized Crime" in April during the show's first season.
"I was under emotional duress," Meloni said about his character. "I was saying it because I was in the midst of an intervention. My family was coming together with the help of Olivia Benson for an intervention. One of my daughters said, 'I love you,' but I was looking at Mariska."
Hargitay and Meloni's on-screen chemistry is undeniable, and it's something they quickly noticed when they met for the first time at the screen test for "SVU," which premiered in 1999.
"It was an instant, instantaneous connection that is inexplicable, that has only grown," Hargitay said. "I look at it as a gift, but the second we met it was like *exploding sound*."
"There's so much love and there's so much trust and there's so much ease and there's so much chemistry," she added. "And the gift of it is that it has truly stood the test of time."
April 2, 202101:03The two were asked if they ever dated in real life.
"For four years, and we just broke up two months ago," Hargitay cracked.
"Don't tell our spouses," Meloni said.
Hargitay, 57, has been married to actor Peter Hermann since 2004 and has three children, while Meloni, 60, has been married to production designer Sherman Williams since 1995 and has two children. Hargitay is the godmother of his 20-year-old daughter, Sophia.
As "SVU" begins shooting on its milestone 500th episode Thursday, Hargitay is also happy to be back in one piece. She broke her right ankle ahead of filming the new season and had to get two plates and 13 pins in it during surgery.
"It's so funny because I'd love to say, 'Oh, you should see the other guy,' but the truth of the matter is I tripped in the rain walking across the street," she said. "I'm feeling great. I'm feeling bionic now."
Her injury happened a few weeks before season 23 of "SVU" started shooting, so the writers had to incorporate the break into the script.
"You'll just have to watch tonight," she said.