Connie Nielsen temping at SVU unit

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Connie Nielsen will guest-star in six episodes of Law & Order: SVU while series star Mariska Hargitay is on maternity leave later this year.

Nielsen will play an NYPD detective on temporary assignment to the sex crimes unit that the NBC drama revolves around, while Hargitay's character, Detective Olivia Benson, is working on a special assignment. Dick Wolf, cocreator and executive producer of Law & Order: SVU, said Nielsen was expected to begin shooting her first episodes sometime next month.

"This is an unremittingly positive situation for us," Wolf said. "I'm thrilled that Mariska is having a baby and thrilled that we have someone of Connie's obvious talent, beauty, and stature to come in for these episodes. I think she's going to be a great addition."

Nielsen is best known for her role in the Oscar winner Gladiator. Her credits include last year's The Great Raid and The Ice Harvest and 2002's One Hour Photo. She is currently dating a fellow Dane, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.

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