Mariska Hargitay on Christopher Meloni Exit: 'I Will Miss Him Terribly'

Will Hart/NBC Universal

The "Law & Order: SVU" star will scale back her role on the show, which she and Meloni had headlined since 1999.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay says she will miss her TV partner of 12 years "terribly" when the procedural launches into a 13th season without Christopher Meloni.

Meloni, who played Det. Elliot Stabler on NBC's long-running series, left the show earlier this week following lengthy contract negotiations.

STORY: Chris Meloni Exiting 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'

Hargitay and Meloni have starred on the program since its first season in 1999. Hargitay told TV Line, "For the past 12 years Chris has been my partner and friend, both on screen and off. He inspired me every day with his integrity, his extraordinary talent and his commitment to the truth.

I love him deeply and will miss him terribly -- I'm so excited to see what he'll do next."

Hargitay will be scaling back her own participation in the show as well.

NBC entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt recently told reporters that the network had plans to "reset the tone" of the series. With new showrunner Warren Leight replacing Neal Baer this fall, the stories would "still be compelling but a little more grounded," he said.