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