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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 7)

Caruso describes his mother, Joan, as simply "strong and still living in Forest Hills. She is tough, man, and she's not going anywhere." He describes his daughter, Greta, a 22-year-old recent graduate of Yale, as "beautiful, brilliant. When you have a child like Greta—a very accomplished, incredibly sincere, decent, effective human being—it's a real source of pride."

As for Liza Marquez, his girlfriend of two years and the mother of his 16-month-old son, Marquez Anthony, she is simply called the boss. "She's the boss, man. You know, she's a self-made woman. She's a Penn State graduate. She speaks Spanish and French fluently. She's from San Antonio—a native Texan—and they are strong women!" he laughs. "She has a very developed toughness and softness but at the same time there's also an expectation on you, with Liza, to be a man. She has a limited tolerance for some things. She'll care for your boy side, your scared little boy side, but there's a limited tolerance for it because, at the end of the day, she fell in love with a man and she wants a man, her man, to be there."

When asked if that translates into her calling him on his crap, Caruso throws his head back in serious laughter before responding. "There's no question about it. None. There's absolutely no hesitation on her part to straighten me out."

David Caruso may believe that taking the role in Gold Coast in 1997—the teaming with Marg Helgenberger, the running into Jerry Bruckheimer over dinner, the introduction to Miami—was ultimately a foreshadowing of the launch of "CSI: Miami" (and the significant relaunch of his career), but there was still a five-year gap in which Caruso continued to struggle.

First came a number of parts in small films and then, in 2000, a fairly substantial role in Proof of Life opposite Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan. While the high-profile, offscreen romance of Crowe and Ryan was blamed for the movie's lower-than-expected box office returns, at least one person who saw the film paid attention to the red-haired mercenary-for-hire played by Caruso: CBS executive Les Moonves.

Moonves is the same studio head who, in 2000, gave the original green light for "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" to the show's creator, Anthony Zuiker, and its producer, Jerry Bruckheimer. It was also Moonves who, having seen the success that rival network NBC had with its "Law & Order" franchise, urged the show's executive producers to develop an additional "CSI" series in 2002 and who, by the way, had an actor in mind for the male lead. Moonves, it seems, had always thought that Caruso kicked serious acting ass in his role as Detective John Kelly on "NYPD Blue."

One of the show's executive producers, Ann Donohue, says that after an arranged meet-and-greet dinner one evening, she and fellow executive producers Zuiker and Carol Mendelsohn walked away convinced that Caruso was, in fact, the man to play Caine. Ironically, she says, David had to fly into Los Angeles from Miami for the meeting.

"There we all were at Morton's for dinner," recalls Donohue, "and David walked in in his leather jacket and jeans and looked so casual and so cool. We talked about what a hero is, what drama is and what we could do with the city of Miami. He'd already fallen in love with the city and had moved there, so he was keen to show Miami's beauty and its uniqueness. Well, literally, we were all kicking each other under the table. We were thinking 'Oh, my God, this is Horatio! This is the guy.'"

Many leather jackets later, Caruso obviously is the guy, and while he responds with humor to the ribbing he gets about his character always running around in the heat and humidity of Miami in black leather or black suits (albeit well-tailored designer suits) while his female costars chase criminals and totter around crime scenes and morgues in three-inch stilettos ("Hey, I'm telling you…Miami is a very, very sexy city!"), he sobers up instantly when asked to describe what makes the terse lieutenant with the dark shades and gunslinger's stance so immensely popular.

"I like to describe him as the consummate civil servant, a high-stakes civil servant, the kind [with a job] where you might not return home at night," says Caruso. "The majority of society is held together by civil servants who are making no money, who will never be acknowledged and who will often never meet the people that they sacrifice their lives for. In a funny way there's almost a calling to that profession and [Horatio] explores the darker side of man. Man has that darker side, and [his actions] have real impact on people's lives. This guy injects himself into these events and handles it. It's what I call the "resolve and relief" of the situation. We need to believe in someone like him, to believe that there are people who can handle things, resolve them."

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