SVU veteran Danny Pino returns for more action in Gone

GONE -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Danny Pino as Bishop -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/Universal Television International)
GONE -- Season: 1 -- Pictured: Danny Pino as Bishop -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/Universal Television International) /

Danny Pino is known for Law & Order: SVU, Cold Case and Chicago PD, but his new role in Gone has him playing a different kind of hero.

Fans of the Dick Wolf universe know Danny Pino very well. The actor was a series regular on Law & Order: SVU as the hard-charging Nick Amaro, Olivia Benson’s first partner after the exit of Elliot Stabler.

In that role, Pino guest-starred in two episodes of Chicago PD when the One Chicago series and SVU crossed over. And outside of the Wolf world, he’s still beloved for playing Scotty Valens on the CBS series Cold Case.

Now he’s picked up a badge once again in the WGN America series Gone, playing an FBI agent on a task force led by fellow Law & Order alum Chris Noth. Pino spoke to One Chicago Center about his new role, how it compares to his past characters, and why this series has the potential to save real lives.

Learn more about Danny Pino and Gone below, then catch a new episode of the series Wednesday at 9 p.m. on WGN America; you can find the channel in your area here.

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You’ve portrayed a law enforcement officer many times now, for the better part of a decade. Was it easy to step into your Gone role?

There were a lot of things that were shorthand for sure, but there were surprisingly things I had not explored. John Bishop, the character I play on Gone, is former military intelligence [and a] graduate of West Point—I had to really learn how to tactically clear a house. To look as if I’d been doing it for the better part of my life.

There was a lot of training involved there, and Gone is a very physical show. There are a lot of standoffs. When somebody has been abducted, the abductor does not want to be arrested, so a lot of times we have to engage hand to hand in order to make that happen. There were a lot of fight sequences and in order to pull that off, the choreography had to be quick and violent, so to make that look real took some training.

In addition to that what the FBI does is different from what the NYPD does. It’s different from what Philadelphia PD does on Cold Case. I had to meet with a bunch of federal agents and have long conversations with them as to what their lives are like outside of the Bureau, and also understand [an] investigation—what they look for in an interrogation, what they look for in terms of evidence, how they build their case, how that makes them feel.

You get an internal mirror, so that hopefully you can digest that and portray something three-dimensional. [I] surprisingly found there was a lot more to explore.

What was the hook for you that made you want to play John Bishop?

Chelsea Cain wrote the novel One Kick that our show Gone is based on, and it was from reading her novel that I got the sense that John Bishop was a character that I’d never really explored before. Somebody who is so inherently connected to the investigations that he is conducting. It’s kind of like peeling an onion with him; he doesn’t show who he is and what he’s about early on.

It takes time for him to wear down episode to episode, where you see how raw and personal these investigations are to him and why that is true—what happened to him as a kid that makes him do what he does. Chelsea Cain did a fantastic job of establishing that foundation for John Bishop, and then Matt Lopez, who adapted it for television just picks up that baton and does the same thing. Exploring that, to me, was the real reason to be involved.

Speaking of Cold Case, your former co-star Tracie Thoms is working with you again in Gone. How was it to work together again?

I love Tracie Thoms. I want it put out there in public that I have so much respect for her as an artist, so much love for her as a person.

I had actually signed on before I knew she was involved, and when she became part of the team I was just super-excited, because I knew that we would have a shorthand. Then I knew we would have a blast on set, which we did. You work long enough years, I think the universe conspires to put you back with good people, and this is one of those [situations].

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You’re also currenly a series regular on Mayans MC, playing a character on the other side of the law. Was it challenging to portray two totally different roles relatively close together?

I had a little bit of time between characters. But when you’re studying acting and you’re in a conservatory kind of program, you’re playing two or three characters a day, so you’re kind of prepared to take one hat off and put on another.

Granted it was a huge shift from playing federal agent to playing [his Mayans character] Miguel Galindo, but I feel very grateful to show that range and play two vastly different characters. That’s the dream when you become an actor, to play a wide range.

What does the future hold for Danny Pino? What are you looking forward to now that Gone is out?

I’m excited about season 2 of Mayans; we’re about to start shooting in May. I think that’s going to be an amazing experience to jump back into that world. But I’d also be remiss to not mention the social resonance of Gone as we premiere in the US.  There are so many missing and abducted both children and adults, and the show and WGN America is attempting to bring awareness to these people and these families who have this ambiguous loss that they’re experiencing.

Our push is toward to help find these people. Also NCMEC, which is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. These are organizations that are dedicated to bringing these men, women and children back home and bringing closure to their families. If we can shed light on them and their experiences, then we’ll go beyond just the entertainment value of what we have going on.

Next. Learn more about Gone with Leven Rambin. dark

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