(NBC) Mariska Hargitay has covered a lot of territory on 15 seasons of "Law & Order: SVU".
Now she's calling the shots behind the camera.
"The acting brain and the directing brain are quite different," she says.
But years of watching other "SVU" directors at work prepared Hargitay for the opportunity on this week's episode.
"As the days go on, you gain confidence and you learn to trust your instincts, like acting. You feel it's either right or its not," she says.
Alec Baldwin guest stars tonight as a newspaper columnist at odds with the SVU team over an investigation.
It's his first appearance on the "Law & Order" franchise.
"They are to dramatic TV acting what Hawaii is to surfing," Baldwin says. "Eventually you have to go there, and you have to go to the pipeline and shoot the tube at the pipeline. You've got to do Law & Order."
Talk show host Katie Couric also appears, playing a talk show host.