Mariska Hargitay & Tom Selleck (7 noms, 1 win)
While critical accolades and awards-show recognition are meaningful to these small-screen vets, it's the approval of the men and women of the police force of which they are most proud. "If you're playing New York City cops, you're playing heroes. Every so often, I'll get a wave from a cop or a salute, which means a lot to me," says Selleck of his role as flawed NYPD Commissioner Frank Reagan on the CBS drama Blue Bloods. The 67-year-old has a long television history playing one of the good guys, becoming a household name (and heartthrob) as private investigator Thomas Magnum on the popular CBS series Magnum, P.I., for which he won a best drama actor statuette in 1984 (and earned four other nominations). Of course, if there's any TV expert on the nitty-gritty of New York police work, it's Hargitay. Entering her 14th season as Detective Olivia Benson on NBC's Law & Order: SVU, the franchise darling has a special connection to her character. "I learned the staggering statistics for sexual assault and child abuse, and my goal became to shine a light on it," recalls Hargitay of researching the role, for which she has been nominated eight times, winning in 2006. "People started disclosing to me their stories of abuse. The fact they would tell a fictional character made me understand how desperate they were to be heard and healed." In 2004, the actress established the Joyful Heart Foundation to support victims of abuse. It also is one of the reasons she decided to stay on after co-star Christopher Meloni exited the series in 2011. "I was trying to balance it all. I didn't know if I could," says the mother of three. Despite chatter of a scaled-back role, Hargitay returned to season 13 in full force. "There's a lot of new energy," says the 48-year-old star, who came to THR's shoot directly from dropping her kids off at school. "One chapter closed, but it's still challenging, and that keeps me invested."
Photographed by Bill Phelps on Sept. 6 at Sugar and Plumm in Manhattan