Red hot in the shades

David Caruso is a glar­ing ex­am­ple of how to make the most of a sec­ond chance, writes Dar­ren Devlyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

DAVID Caruso can be an in­tim­i­dat­ing pres­ence. On the set of CSI: Mi­ami in af­flu­ent Han­cock Park in Los An­ge­les, the gin­ger man has a sear­ingly in­tense glare.

He gives the im­pres­sion that, if asked a ques­tion that of­fends his sen­si­bil­i­ties, he just might blow a gas­ket and have you thrown on to the street.

That he has such an aura should come as no sur­prise be­cause Caruso has in the past shown he’s ca­pa­ble of ir­ra­tional be­hav­iour.

In 1994, af­ter one sea­son of crit­i­cally ac­claimed cop drama NYPD Blue, Caruso fell for the trick of be­liev­ing his own pub­lic­ity.

He played hard­ball with pro­duc­ers on salary (he was on $80,000 an episode and wanted a 20 per cent pay hike) be­cause he be­lieved a ca­reer in fea­ture films beck­oned.

The stunt back­fired. In ca­reer terms, Caruso, 53, landed smack bang on his lily-white be­hind.

He quit the TV se­ries for star­ring roles in films such as Jade and the ap­pro­pri­ately ti­tled Kiss of Death. Both films were such tur­keys that Caruso ap­peared to have blown any chance of re­demp­tion.

‘‘I was a guy who aban­doned a TV show . . . I didn’t care about peo­ple. They (in­dus­try de­ci­sion­mak­ers) didn’t want to see good things hap­pen to me,’’ Caruso has said.

The crawl back to prime time was dif­fi­cult, but Caruso was res­ur­rected as an ac­tor in the form of CSI: Mi­ami de­tec­tive Ho­ra­tio Caine.

On this warm af­ter­noon on the Mi­ami set, it’s a re­lief to dis­cover that though he has the look of some­one with a short fuse, Caruso is in fact at ease with him­self and thank­ful for a sec­ond shot at star­dom.

In a break from film­ing, Caruso pulls up a deckchair in the back yard of the Han­cock Park man­sion and be­gins to speak in that slow, de­lib­er­ate drawl, his eyes now barely vis­i­ble be­hind those trade­mark shades made fa­mous by CSI al­ter ego Caine.

‘‘To­day’s a nor­mal day for me,’’ he says with a smile.

‘‘We un­der­stand who we are as a show, how to make the show and have a pretty loose and col­lab­o­ra­tive set.

‘‘We have a great group (cast and crew) that es­sen­tially has been here from the beginning.

‘‘This has re­mained a re­ally in­ter­est­ing and fresh jour­ney. I think you must have a sense of that (by vis­it­ing the set) be­cause we are hav­ing some real fun out here and get­ting good footage.’’

How is it pos­si­ble to come to the same set, week in week out, and avoid the feel­ing of be­ing stymied cre­atively by a long-term con­tract? Surely he must worry about the fact creative fa­tigue can set in on a show quickly and un­ex­pect­edly and make life mis­er­able for cast and crew.

‘‘What is ap­par­ent to me at the end of ev­ery day is what my job is,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s the pur­suit of the mo­ment, what I call the car­pen­try of the mo­ment on film and that’s still a fas­ci­nat­ing process to me . . . peo­ple com­ing to­gether as a cast to find that.

‘‘That’s what at­tracted me to act­ing as a kid. When I saw the

as a lit­tle boy, 13, I didn’t know about peo­ple’s act­ing ca­reers, I just knew about the qual­ity of what they were do­ing and that’s still what in­ter­ests me.

‘‘That world, be­tween action and cut, is a fas­ci­nat­ing world. The en­ergy can be very thick over there,’’ he says, ges­tur­ing to­wards crew pre­par­ing for his next scene.

‘‘I once worked with Christo­pher Walken and he said, ‘ We must al­ways be very de­lib­er­ate over there (on set)’, so the in­ter­est­ing thing is how you make the viewer see what you want them to see and not get caught do­ing it.’’

Once con­sid­ered dif­fi­cult and a desta­bil­is­ing in­flu­ence, Caruso now em­braces the re­spon­si­bil­ity of en­sur­ing CSI: Mi­ami is a happy work­place for cast and crew.

‘‘It’s like fam­ily ... it has a re­laxed na­ture here. That’s prob­a­bly a healthy thing be­cause the crimes (in scripts) are so heavy and sit­u­a­tions so dark. You have to bal­ance that with a lighter at­mos­phere on set.

‘‘That (be­hav­ing) has come with ex­pe­ri­ence for me. You have to think what the big pic­ture is and what should I be con­cerned about in terms of the big pic­ture.’’

THOUGH happy at work, Caruso has had his share of ups and down in his pri­vate life. There were dif­fi­cult times last year when an in­ter­na­tional ar­rest war­rant was is­sued for an Aus­trian woman ac­cused of stalk­ing him.

It’s un­der­stood the woman sent more than 100 let­ters to Caruso and made death threats against him and his part­ner.

A let­ter from the woman read: ‘‘I will lo­cate you and your ugly Latina tramp and kill you.’’

The woman was due to stand trial for stalk­ing and threat­en­ing to kill Caruso but failed to show up at court.

This day on set, how­ever, Caruso of­fers a gen­tle nod when asked if life at home is con­tribut­ing to his sense of ful­fil­ment.

‘‘Things are in place,’’ Caruso says.

‘‘I have the most won­der­ful three chil­dren (daugh­ters Greta and Paloma and son Mar­quez), which I’m very happy about. Things are in a good place for me, things are very bal­anced. I’m very for­tu­nate.’’



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