Mariska Hargitay Addresses Kelli Giddish Exiting 'Law & Order: SVU'

Ahead of Kelli Giddish's exit from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, her on-screen boss and co-star Mariska Hargitay is wishing her well. A month after Giddish, 42, confirmed she would be exiting the long-running NBC drama series sometime during the upcoming Season 24, Hargitay paid tribute to GIddish at an event celebrating the upcoming premiere. "She is one of my favorite actors that I've ever worked with, and we got to build something really beautiful together and really learned together because our characters had quite a journey," Hargitay told Entertainment Tonight.

Hargitay has starred in the show since its debut in 1999. She currently also serves as an executive producer. Giddish began as a series regular in season 13. Hargitay says their journey together has been a beautiful one. "It wasn't so easy at the beginning, and then we just fell into this beautiful safety, trust," she explained. "I'm gonna miss her a lot, but she's a lifelong friend, and I'm just glad that our paths crossed, and I know they'll continue to cross."

Rapper Ice-T shared similar sentiments with PEOPLE about Giddish's departure. "It's a sad thing. Me and Kelli were friends." He says the decision of Giddish's exit came "from higher up" adding, "It came from the top of the mountain, you know?"

It's something he initially did not believe. "When I heard about it, I called to check on my pulse, like, 'What's going on?' But this is the business we're in, and they shuffle the deck occasionally," he said.

Giddish stars as Det. Amanda Rollins this season. She took to Instagram to confirm that her time on the show is coming to an end after initial reports began surfacing. She wrote: "I wanted to address the chatter I've seen online and let everyone know that this will, indeed, be my last season on Law & Order: SVU. Playing Rollins has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life," she began, captioning a photo of her character. "I've been so fortunate to be a part of the Law & Order family for the last 12 years. There is simply no other character on TV like Rollins. She's grown and changed, and I have as well. I started on this show when I was in my late 20s, and I'm grateful I got to spend so many of my adult years with Rollins in my life."