|Q. What are some of the recent projects that you've been working on?|
A. I’m currently working on "Law & Order: SVU" in New York. I did a film last year called Across The Line: The Exodus of Charlie Wright. That was with Aidan Quinn and Andy Garcia. It is an interesting little independent film, very low budget, but some interesting actors who did some fantastic work. I was able to also do a couple of “Burn Notice” episodes in my hometown of Miami and that was fun. They have been a good group over there. This last pilot season I did a pilot with Steven Gaghan that I thought turned out very well, but unfortunately, it just didn’t really fit the plans of the network.
Q. What can you tell us is new this season on "Law and Order: SVU" and about your character?
A. I think there are a lot of new things this season, one of them being obviously Detective Amaro. We also have Detective Rollins who is being played by the talented and very beautiful Kelli Giddish. It’s new dynamics. There’s a new show runner, executive producer, Warren Leight. We have many new writers on the staff and new producers and there are several elements within the crew that are new. It feels like a lot of us are finding what this show is with the help of people who’ve obviously been doing it since the beginning who are fantastic like Mariska, Dann Florek, Richard Belzer, Ice; there are several people here who love the show and what it’s been doing for the last twelve seasons and I think you have people who are here joining that family and finding that it’s exciting.
Q. Where do you draw from for your portrayal?
A. I think the cast itself kind of speaks for itself, and the success of the show with the kind of stories that they tell. I think that it has very real life implications for the viewers and I think it carries with it a message that there is life after suffering due to a crime like this, and there’s hope. I think that the real cops that do this, I think, are absolute heroes that step into situations that, it’s a nightmare situation for people. For me, I like to say that there’s a sliver, that nobility of what the real-life SVU cops do, that we’re able to carry around.
Q. Was it hard coming in and joining an already established cast?
A. It’s exactly what you’d expect in terms of, from my perspective, anybody coming in to a new job with people who have been doing it for several years. You want to do well. You don’t want to be the one that throws the monkey wrench in the system, but at the same time I didn’t have a desire to fit into a certain spot. I didn’t want to have to hit a certain target that was already established, I kind of wanted to find my own way and fill a void in a very personal and unique and organic fashion rather than feeling like I had to carry somebody else’s torch.
Q. What is it about your role that you find challenging?
A. What I find most challenging to be honest, is one, moving to New York. When you have two kids and moving from LA to New York, the logistics of that move is not easy. The logistics are not the easiest thing in the world, but once you’re here, and once you’re established and everybody is comfortable, then I think the most difficult thing for me was having played a detective in the past is how to make this detective different. Who is he, as compared to the detective that I formerly played. It’s really trying to establish who Nick Amaro is in a very distinct way. To me, I find that’s the biggest challenge, in developing a character from zero and working with the executive producers and writers to develop that and to find ground that is interesting for everybody. They have a very strong sense as to what the character I played in the past and so we were able to speak in a very specific way as to how to make him different and I think, every day, we’re finding how to do that. I think the show is very different in and of itself, so that does a lot of it for us, but it’s the back story, the stuff that actors love to talk about, it’s the research, it’s meeting the real SVU detectives, it’s kind of stealing the identities of these SVU detectives and trying to pick and choose stuff you like and stuff you don’t necessarily like. Sometimes the negative things about people are actually the most interesting. If they’re too perfect then they’re kind of boring. So to me that’s always a challenge, to find out where the inconsistencies are, what are the less than attractive spots about the character. To me that’s where the artistry comes in, that’s where the difficulty comes in.
Q. Did the chemistry with the cast come naturally or did it take some time to develop?
A. The cast has been so incredibly welcoming and positive. The most incredible thing is the relationships that the cast has developed. I think that it’s a transitional moment obviously for me, but in a lot of ways for them. They’ve been, like I said, so welcoming, reassuring, encouraging, that it just makes for a fantastic atmosphere on set and it allows for a lot of creativity.
Q. Where do you draw from to portray this character?
A. It’s very heavy, heavy material as you know. Dealing with sexual crimes, it’s incredibly traumatic, even if it is fictitious. The kinds of things that you have to as an actor, believe, the head space you have to put yourself in in order to play some of these scenes; not only is it not easy, but I think it is vital to have a camaraderie on set in order to do it. I think you’d find that most successful police precincts and detectives and detective squads and units have a certain amount of coping mechanism and whether that comes through camaraderie or whether it comes through humor, I think it not only allows you to do your job but it allows you to do your job better, and know what that is. Mariska and Ice and Richard and Dann, they know what that is. Not only do they know how it is to make it a very positive, creative atmosphere, but they do that for the fantastic guest stars that we get on our show. The guest actors that we get on our show are world-class, top-level actors who believe the traumatic moment with them, it’s largely reaction, so to make it a safe place for them to go through those moments is vital and they do such a good job of it that, to be honest, I don’t think it was a hard thing for them to – they’ve been doing that for twelve years, making it a safe place to work, so for me to step in I think they just extended that to me too.
Q. What do you think it is about the show that keeps viewers tuning in?
A. I think that to say that there’s one thing that makes people tune in, I think is an over-simplification. I think if you ask ten people you’ll probably get ten different answers. I think that’s what makes a good show. You have an amalgamation of elements that work well together. Maybe somebody’s favorite thing is a certain character and maybe somebody else likes to be taken on a crime story. Maybe somebody else likes the inherent emotion that’s behind being violated in that way, within a sex crime, there are so many factors involved. I’m not sure, maybe I’m just not smart enough to know what the one element would be, I don’t know if I could point to one element, I think it’s a rich broth. I think it starts with the script. It think it starts with the story, which usually begins with an idea and then it gets expanded into a story, then you start bringing that script around and once it gets to the actors then we interpret that script and then you have to bring in a great director to visualize it, and then you obviously have a fantastic crew. The camera work, the background artists, the lighting and the electricity, and how do we make New York a character within the show as well because that’s a huge element so I think you could probably say it starts with an idea in a writer’s head, and then you take it all the way to when the final cut is made by the editor, and everything in between then is the reason why the show is so successful.