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TV's Hottest Cop

As David Caruso savors the global success of "CSI: Miami," the former star of "NYPD Blue" won't forget the lessons he's learned, or the cigars he loves.
Betsy Model
From the Print Edition:
David Caruso, Jan/Feb 2007

(continued from page 3)

Caruso shakes his head and smiles at the memory. It was an impractical aim for the boy that he was, coming from a neighborhood where the straight-A students would choose law or medicine, and those with study habits like Caruso's would opt for civil service jobs.

"I was 13 years old and it was an absolutely ludicrous statement to make," says Caruso. "I was not as academically inclined as some people and I don't think I had the discipline at the time. I'm more of a left-brain person. The consumption of repetitive material is something that I'm, uh, not designed for."

That perceived deficit didn't, Caruso admits, keep him from repetitively consuming The Godfather—and the first sequel—many times over. "Which character did I identify with? God, every one of them was so electric that I think that varied. Some days you were Sonny, some days you were Michael and some days," Caruso grins, "you were Fredo."

In spite of his career declaration at 13, Caruso simply waded his way through the rest of school and, although he played a little basketball when he attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, he didn't have a specific game plan for his life or career until, once again, he found himself in a darkened theater, this time, as a movie usher.

While Caruso never doubted his absolute certainty about acting as a career choice, he knew that, for a boy from a middle-class neighborhood in Queens, the chances of achieving that dream were pretty slim.

"There was no reality to that [early] desire because I was just another boy on the F train. But," Caruso pauses, "when I became the usher at the movie theater and began to be more influenced by the films, I think the seed of something kind of regerminated. And the thing about New York," Caruso grins, "is that anybody could make up a résumé and go around and try to get people, fool people, into hiring you."

That Caruso easily admits to the emphasis he placed on the "make up" and "fool" part of his résumé is simply evidence of the spine that Caruso would develop in earnest when he decided to go after an acting career.

"The catch-22 with this town is that you have to have something on film for them to even consider looking at you, but how do you get something on film to show unless…? So, OK, I had a résumé that wasn't entirely accurate, but it wasn't about what I had done, it was about what I was capable of. And agents in New York are, of course, the gateway to opportunities, so it was all about the seduction of those agents and the pursuit of those agents. I was a fairly aggressive young man," Caruso says, grinning again, "and I was one of those guys out there in February with my 8 by 10, pushing it under their door."

It became, says Caruso, a game. "I'd push it under, they'd push it back. I'd push it under, they'd push it back. This would go on until finally the guy would open the door and furiously say, 'Look, you're not right for me. If you don't leave, I'm going to call security.' And I," Caruso says, laughing, "would put my foot in the door and say, 'Let me make you a deal.' Now, this is an actual situation I'm telling you about! I'd say, 'Here's the deal. If you send me out once and I don't get the job, I will never bother you, never darken your doorway again.'"

One agent, unable to slam his door shut with Caruso's foot wedged in the jamb, was intrigued enough to ask the then 19-year-old to do an impromptu monologue. Sufficiently impressed, the agent sent the teenager out to audition for an A&W commercial and Caruso snagged the job. Suddenly he had his first legitimate acting credit.


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