Danny Pino never forgets where he came from. The actor is in town to visit his college alma mater (FIU), as well as friends and family, on a break from the NYC set of Law & Order: SVU. We talked to the father of two, 38, about his roots (he graduated from Miami Coral Park Senior High) and, his current TV gig as Det. Nick Amaro.
You truly are a local. How often do you get back to town?
I try to get here four to five times a year. I met my wife [actress Lilly Bernal] at Rockway Middle School. It was pretty much love at first talk. For us going home means going back to the 305. I’m very involved in FIU. I’m class of ’96 and my wife is class of ’97. I’m a member of the foundation board. We talk about where the university is strategically and the evolution of programs for the near and distant future.
What is it like joining an established show like “Law & Order?”
I had been on another procedural show, Cold Case, for seven years, and I certainly respected the legacy of Law & Order, even though I had only seen a handful of episodes. Being a dad meant the reality was that I probably knew more about Dora and Diego [laughs]. But I saw the show with fresh eyes, and I wasn’t coming in with a bunch of baggage.
How different was “Cold Case?”
The centerpiece of L&O is the crime, and it starts with the writing. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. It allows the audience to watch any given episode and can drop right in and not feel lost. I think the stark, raw structure has a lot to do with its longevity. There’s also incredible chemistry that has changed but in a way gotten deeper and more interesting. With Cold Case, there’s a much more poetic use of storytelling time, with the flashbacks and music and montages at the end. They are two different flavors.