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Debra Messing talks her 14-year friendship with Mariska Hargitay: 'It was just instant love'

It all started with a kid's birthday party.
/ Source: TODAY

For over 10 years, Debra Messing and Mariska Hargitay have forged a touching friendship that’s become a favorite amongst Hollywood BFFs.

During an interview with TODAY for the upcoming 10th anniversary of the NBC series "Smash," Messing dished on their bond and how they initially forged their 14-year friendship all those years ago.

Mariska Hargitay Debra Messing
Mariska Hargitay and Debra Messing in 2017.Patrick McMullan / Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan

“We met and got to be friends when her son turned one-years-old and my son was four,” Messing said, referring to her son, Roman, 17, and Hargitay’s son, August, 15. “She knew that I was in New York and invited me to his first birthday party in Central Park. And as she tells it, she never thought I was going to actually show up, and I did.”

Messing, 53, recalled that when she arrived at Hargitay’s son’s party, the “Law & Order: SVU” star was surprised, adding, “It was a nice overture, which she didn’t really expect for me to accept.

"But then it was just instant love.”

The former “Will & Grace” star reflected on what has made the duo such great friends throughout the years, which includes their family-orientated nature and experience in the entertainment industry.

“The thing that really makes us feel safe with each other and seen by each other is the fact that we both know what it’s like to be on a hit show where there is a very passionate fan base,” Messing said. “Where while you’re trying to have a family life and to have normalcy and you’re trying to be a great employee and a great friend and a great mom and really understanding just how hard that is and the cost that comes with having a life that big.”

It’s because of this deep understanding of each other’s lives, Messing feels a special connection to Hargitay, 58.

“As much as there are other friends that I love and I feel like are my sisters in a very different way, really Mariska is the only person to truly understand that part of my life and I think she would say the same thing about me,” she explained.

Even beyond relating on a professional and familial level, Messing says there’s another layer of their friendship that comes into play.

“We laugh together. We both love to laugh,” she said. “We both are funny and silly."

The duo have documented their friendship over the years on social media, ranging from coordinating makeup-free selfies together to birthday posts dedicated to one another.

In January 2021, Messing celebrated her friend's birthday on Instagram, sharing a stunning photo of Hargitay submerged in the pool donning a straw hat while she appeared to be laughing.

“Happy Birthday Beauty!” Messing captioned the post, adding the hashtags, “#MillionWattSmile #HappyHat #MariskaTheMermaid #BirthdayBabe #ILoveOlivia #MariskaCantKissHa."

Then in August, Hargitay shared her own ode to Messing on Instagram for her birthday, paired with a selfie of the duo smiling for the camera.

“Happy happy birthday sweet Deb,” Hargitay wrote. “Wishing you the most beautiful, joyful and Peaceful year filled with so much love. Thank you for your passion and determination to make this world a kinder, more compassionate, tolerant and just all around better place.”

In between the celebratory moments, the duo have showed off their silly sides, too. In one photo shared by Messing on Instagram last summer, she shared a snap of Hargitay sitting in a car on set of “Law & Order: SVU” while she Facetimed Messing.

“Yup! I got caught by the paps on FaceTime with the stunning & inimitable @therealmariskahargitay while she filmed season #23 of @nbc.svu. Friendship doesn’t take a hiatus,” Messing wrote at the time.

Messing told TODAY on Friday, “We’ve always just been there for each other."

"So I think that’s what makes our friendship special.”