Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch - BY DAR­REN DEV­LYN

DANNY Pino says it’s im­pos­si­ble to ap­pre­ci­ate the highs as an ac­tor un­less you’ve plumbed the lows of un­em­ploy­ment.

He’s an ex­pert on the sub­ject, hav­ing spent years in the dol­drums be­fore win­ning the role of Scotty Valens in Cold Case.

‘‘ I be­gan to live this ro­man­ti­cised life of the strug­gling ac­tor in New York and I’ve got to tell you that it be­comes very un­ro­man­tic af­ter a short time,’’ Pino says.

‘‘ There comes a time when you get very sick of eat­ing mac­a­roni cheese and tuna three meals a day.’’

The Mi­ami-born ac­tor has backed up Cold Case with a key role in Law & Or­der: SVU. When the widely re­spected Chris Meloni left the show last year, Pino was signed to fill the void as de­tec­tive Nick Amaro.

SVU is one of TV’s all-time great suc­cess sto­ries. It pre­miered in 1999 and on Novem­ber 1 cel­e­brates its 300th episode.

In a world where 13 episodes is con­sid­ered a suc­cess story, 300 episodes is in­cred­i­ble. Howhas man­aged that?

SVU It be­gins with the writ­ing and af­ter that it’s the pro­duc­ers, direc­tors, crew and ac­tors. There is a syn­ergy re­quired to ac­com­plish one hour of TV, much less 300 hours that are com­pelling. SVU is prob­a­bly the grit­ti­est of the net­work cop shows. We go to great pains to make it re­al­is­tic. We take (real sto­ries). But some­times what you see on screen is tame com­pared with what hap­pens in real life. It’s un­nerv­ing to think we have to tone down some of the sto­ries we do.

Howhave fans of the show re­sponded to you?

I’ve met peo­ple on the street and they say they are moved by what we do. There is a com­mu­nity of peo­ple who are sur­vivors, who have been abused or in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships. I think there is hope in our show be­cause it shows a road to be­ing not a vic­tim, but a sur­vivor.

What was it like com­ing in fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Chris Meloni?

I had to come in and not be Chris Meloni. I had no de­sire to step into his shoes. I spoke to (the pro­duc­ers) for a very long time about who Amaro would be. Also, I didn’t want to play the same char­ac­ter I’d played on Cold Case.

At what point did you feel that join­ing the show was a good de­ci­sion?

That feel­ing ar­rived im­me­di­ately. Ev­ery­one was wel­com­ing. It’s been great cre­atively, too. We are now get­ting to see the un­der­pin­nings (of Amaro), and the de­mons all of us have who are in the squad. Law& Or­der: SVU, Chan­nel 10, Thurs­day, 8.30pm

Sit­ting in judg­ment

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