'Law & Order: SVU's' Kelli Giddish - 'My dreams have become so screwed up'

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Photos of stars without makeup are a guilty pleasure for anyone who doesn't have a beauty team. But every so often, an actress looks terrific naturally.

Kelli Giddish of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," airing Wednesdays on NBC, manages to look stunning with her blonde hair pulled back and no makeup.

She's in her dressing room at the Chelsea Piers on Manhattan's far west side. Here, at the well-oiled machine that is this show in its 13th season, Giddish plays Detective Amanda Rollins, a transplant from Georgia, which is what Giddish is, albeit with a few stops in between.

She's lived in Texas, California, Georgia and New York. After "Past Life" and "Chase," which didn't make full seasons, she says it's a relief to be on a show with a solid foundation. Still, dealing with people's basest depravities, as each episode does, takes its toll.

"My dreams have become so screwed up," Giddish tells Zap2it. "Once you are educated about these things going on ... ." her voice trails off.

Having played a cop before, Giddish drew on that research for this role. She talked to police, went on ride-alongs and continued to ask questions. She remains haunted by going out with marshals to serve eviction notices and seeing the gut-wrenching sight of children peeking out from behind curtains, knowing they were about to become homeless.

Giddish describes her character as a detective who "relies on her gut. She made sure she is versed in criminology and got that out of the way. I don't know if she did exactly special victims."

Over the years, Giddish learned how to handle a gun and did 12 hours of training when she realized how many parts called for her to look as if she knew how to handle a gun.

"I'm from Georgia, but I never shot a rifle or a shotgun or a Glock," she says. "I don't know how many times I shot myself in the mirror, imagining I am a cop."
Photo/Video credit: NBC