Carmine Giovinazzo

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at December 5, 2008 - 9:21 AM GMT

Season five has brought a lot of changes for CSI: New York's mercurial Danny Messer. His trademark spectacles bit the dust after the first few episodes of the season, while "The Box" brought the most shocking news of all: Danny's colleague and sometimes girlfriend, Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap), is carrying his child. Carmine Giovinazzo spoke with CSI Files' Kristine Huntley about what's in store for the couple and how Danny has been growing up, as well as sharing the latest news about his band, Ceesau.

CSI Files: So there's a major controversy in the CSI: NY fandom right now: what happened to Danny's glasses?

Carmine Giovinazzo: What happened to Danny's glasses--that's the big controversy, huh?

CSI Files: Yeah!

Giovinazzo: Some folks were really attached to those glasses, huh? I don't know if they're gone for good, but it was a choice to make a change. I'm not sure it needs to be brought up [in the show]; it may come up in conversation. It was something that I actually felt would be a good change. Not that that's going to make a [big] difference, but it was just something for me to feel different. That's why I did that.

CSI Files: So it was your choice?

Giovinazzo: Yeah. I'm a contact/glasses-wearing person, so that's what [Danny] is. Obviously it was a great character piece and worked for him. I think it's just going to take a beat of a transition for people to adjust to it, because it does seem like one is naked when you're used to seeing them wearing glasses all of the time, but like I said, it makes him feel a little different.

CSI Files: What made you decide you suddenly wanted to get rid of them?

Giovinazzo: I mean it was just one way to make him feel different to me, or make him feel fresh. I think this is a transition period for him in many ways with what's going on with Lindsay. Maybe I thought it would help the character feel different. It almost makes me feel like I'm starting again, to give me a fresh energy--a different character in a sense almost.

CSI Files: After five years of playing the same character, do you feel like it's getting old?

Giovinazzo: I don't feel like it's getting old, but I would like to have things happen to make him evolve and change. It's an exterior kind of change, but it was a big part of his character, so I think it helps me try to attempt to make some growth in the character.

CSI Files: Obviously, there's some other major growth going on with Danny about to become a father. In our last interview, you said of Danny and Lindsay, "They're either going to have a child or just completely end it I think." Are you psychic, or had there been discussion behind the scenes of a Danny/Lindsay baby before this season?

Giovinazzo: No, I don't think there was. I guess I'm psychic, yeah. Good to know! Get it out there; they'll make a thread [on TalkCSI] about it. I'm psychic so everybody's got to be careful about what they say!

CSI Files: Was this storyline something you were expecting, or did it totally come out of Anna's real-life pregnancy?

Giovinazzo: I think they've always been working and working our relationship. I think they might have always known they wanted it to come tighter and tighter together, and whether or not they had us having a baby in the picture, I'm not exactly sure. She was pregnant before, so I'm sure that might have put it in their heads if they didn't have it on their own, so I think it's probably a combination. It may have put the idea over the edge, her really being pregnant.

CSI Files: How did you first hear about the storyline? Did they tell you about it, or did you read it in the script for "The Box"?

Giovinazzo: There was some mention of the possibility for a little bit. Peter [Lenkov, executive producer] wrote the episode with [Technical Advisor] Bill Haynes; it's a good combination because Bill is an ex-CSI and obviously Peter's been a writer for a while, so these guys really come together for a while to bring two different really good points-of-view to one episode, and I think they like to dig in a little bit more. I think I found out [about Lindsay's pregnancy] just as they were writing the episode. Peter's pretty open about talking about it and getting excited about it and discussing it. I'm all for it: I'm all for most decent change, good strong change in what's going on with the characters and myself so I can latch onto something and play something that's specific. It gives me direction.

CSI Files: Were you surprised that they were taking Danny in this direction, or did you feel it made sense?

Giovinazzo: I wasn't surprised because it was there to happen. I'm never really surprised by what they do because I'm there for them to do these kinds of things with. There're a lot of different things that they make happen with him, so I'm not surprised. At the same time when these kind of extreme things happen, it's a good. It's like, "Wow, I'm glad that they're doing that."

CSI Files: The episode required you to do a lot of monologue work and talking to the camera. What's that like? Is it challenging?

Giovinazzo: What's like to suddenly have to attempt to tell a story and make people believe you? That's the thing that's catchy with this. You're in this kind of pace and this kind of cycle of doing things a certain way; you don't get put on the spot consistently. You have to play these [routine] kinds of scenes and episodes [usually]. [Being presented with something different is] kind of difficult and it's scary while at the same time it's everything that I want to happen. It's a lot of different things. It's tough--it's like starting a car and shutting it off, and starting a car and shutting it off. You're kind of expected to turn it on when you haven't turned it on in a while. So it's kind of exciting. I love that they went outside the box in narrating the story like that and were really great about incorporating things that I could kind of relate to with baseball.

You kind of made a comment about the baseball comparison and what's happening now [with Danny finding out about Lindsay's pregnancy] in your article. It's funny you say that [about Danny's comment about "just having to find a new career" being too blasť] and you're right--I agree. But that's the difference between maybe how Peter saw the character and what's happening, and me. Because I would agree that for me what that meant when that was over, when I was first reading [the script], that was my idea: it was like no, that wasn't easier because I had to just change careers. It wasn't just him changing careers, that was my life. And obviously a game pales in comparison to having a child, but on the other hand I understand what you're saying about it being such a dramatic and traumatic thing that happened. That's what I mean by coming out of nowhere and turning the car on--you're kind of just doing it and it's not like you're rehearsing for a week and discussing it and going over it. It's like you're there and you're doing it. You gotta understand, when I watch these episodes, I'm pissed off sometimes about what I end up seeing. And that's nobody's particular fault; you get through so many different takes and different angles, and they get put together for certain reasons. For the most part I've been very happy with it, but if I were to be really meticulous and was involved in the whole process of choosing every beat I would prefer to do [it might be different]. So there's a lot of things that make it end up being what you the viewer end up reading it as that could go one way or another because of many different reasons. But for the most part in the general tone, we get it: the point is that I'm scared, I don't know what to do, this is blowing me away. I think I know how I feel about Lindsay, but this is really kind of a blow to knock you out of your seat. So that was what we really needed to get across.

CSI Files: Do you feel like Danny cheated on Lindsay when he slept with Rikki in "Right Next Door"?

Giovinazzo: As a young, single man, absolutely not! No. Because our relationship on screen was never solidified enough to make the [affair with Rikki] mean that, to give [Lindsay] the right to say I'm cheating on her. And that relationship, why it came about and where it came from, was another [factor]. Obviously if [Danny and Lindsay] were completely together at that point, I would be cheating on her. I think again it was more about the story, about the loss of this kid, and it took me closer to where they wanted to get me, if you look it at that way. These are the things you go through maybe if you're unsure of a certain decision. Sometimes you go through those things and then the choice isn't there anymore, but then sometimes it is. There's so many ways you can look at it. You can look at it as, I've been trying to chase Lindsay forever and she just always [didn't] respond. For me, there were always moments of that thought, for me. It's like, "Come on, guys." I guess that's serial drama. Truthfully I felt like at one point I probably would have pulled back. Like okay, I'm not going to push this or chase this anymore. And that's kind of what happened but there was always that connection between us, and here we are.

CSI Files: So do you think Danny is at the point where he loves her?

Giovinazzo: I think that question will clearly be answered in the next episode ["The Triangle"]. You have to watch this episode; it's a sweet episode and we actually speak to each other directly and not in this kind of roundabout way. You'll get a good sense of where they're at.

CSI Files: Danny said in the last episode that he thought Lindsay was aware of his relationship with Rikki; do you think that's true or was Danny way off base with that?

Giovinazzo: Anna was trying to figure that out herself. And the truth is, I don't think it matters. All that matters is that she had a sense of something. Whether or not she knew exactly doesn't matter. If you're with somebody, if you care about somebody, if they're in that kind of situation with somebody else, whether they go all the way or they have some sort of intimate relationship, I think you get a feel. To me, that's kind of what [Danny] said: she knew, she got the idea, she knew I was acting differently or I was somewhere else. So I think whether she specifically knew we had a night together [or not], she knew something happened. That's what I think.

CSI Files: Why do you think Danny pulled away from Lindsay last season after Ruben's death?

Giovinazzo: Did he? To be honest, I don't know where our relationship [was at] before the Ruben story. We obviously weren't yet in this place of, "We're in. We're doing it, we're going for it" so under the circumstances, Danny went where he went.

CSI Files: Do you think Ruben's death in "Child's Play" on Danny's watch will affect his confidence as a parent?

Giovinazzo: I don't think it will affect the core beliefs and the way he would choose to do what he's going to do as a father, but I think it's something that's going to pop up in his memory and throw him off and hurt him more so. I think it might if anything make him be more overprotective than he would already be.

CSI Files: What kind of father do you think Danny is going to be?

Giovinazzo: I think he's going to be one that needs a girl like Lindsay to help him out! I think Flack (Eddie Cahill) and I have those great two kinds of personalities: one's more mild-mannered and thoughtful, and one is more--Danny could have good manners, but he could also snap. He can also be the kind of person that's a little bit of a loose cannon. That's kind of what I mean: I think Lindsay will [get Danny to] downshift. She will be the seesaw!

CSI Files: How much of their personal lives with this baby do you think we'll get to see?

Giovinazzo: I can't wait to see how they're going to handle that. I have to be honest with you: I don't know. I've thought about it, but not long enough to actually to try to figure out how realistically that's going to play. And I can't wait to see how we actually incorporate having the baby. Maybe she's going to have a 28-month pregnancy; I don't know!

CSI Files: Have they told you what the sex of the baby will be?

Giovinazzo: No, I don't know about that either.

CSI Files: This baby will pretty much tie Danny and Lindsay together for the duration of the show. How do you feel about that?

Giovinazzo: Whatever happens between them, that's going to make for a great potential ups and downs and turns for their relationship. If things go well, that's great. And if they come to a realization that they don't work together, I think it's going to make for a complicated situation. It's fantastic.

CSI Files: Last time we spoke, you also predicted Danny would end up in an insane asylum at the end of season five. Do you think there's any chance he's headed in that direction?

Giovinazzo: Did I [predict that]? I meant Carmine. The doctor is at the door now! They're going to take me away. [Danny's] been through a lot of shit. He's been through some crazy ups and downs with the shooting of the cop early on [in "On the Job"], the death of this kid. So he has had a lot of experiences that are pretty traumatic. I think that's where that was coming from. But what's happening with Lindsay, time, the fact that he doesn't wear glasses has sent him in a different direction somewhat.

CSI Files: Do you see him calming down now?

Giovinazzo: Yeah, definitely. Calming down doesn't mean he's going to be calm, but he's gotten older and there are certain places he might want to go in the job, where he wants to be someone that maybe everybody doesn't always have a view that he's a hot one to handle. And I think it's kind of gone in that direction for the most part. I mean it seems like they're always going to use me as the one to be the fuck-up. I think I'm always going to be that guy for the writers. If anybody can break the rules or question the rules, or talk back to those who shouldn't be talked back to or get a co-worker pregnant, all those things [are Danny]. I'll have to just become a bit more stable and calm, as much as I can under the circumstances of what they tend to give me. And I think they're always going to see me that way. I think maybe the transition with the baby is going to have them approach how he acts and what he does in a different way, perhaps. Like I said, where else are you going to go for those kinds of scenarios?

CSI Files: You can't go to Flack or Hawkes (Hill Harper), that's for sure!

Giovinazzo: You know, it's kind of like Flack can get heated up and it will generally be for something justifiable, like an alcoholic sister or a relative scenario. I think they're running Flack around a bit more these days, which is a good thing. But we'll always be those different kinds of characters, where there's only so far he can go in that direction just like there's only so far I can go in the direction that would be more of the way he is. I think the potential is open to go wherever they'd like [with Danny].

CSI Files: Flack and Danny have worked a lot together this season.

Giovinazzo: Yeah, the writers finally smartened up! They were like, "Oh yeah! That really works!"

CSI Files: So would you be behind the idea of a Flack and Danny spin-off?

Giovinazzo: Definitely. I think we'll call it CHIPs. We'll spell it with a 'z' though, CHIPz. I'll be Poncherello! Except Flack would have to be riding a Vespa. He'd be behind me; I'd be in front of him on a Harley-Davidson. I'm just a little more fearless!

CSI Files: Gary Sinise (Mac Taylor) has written an episode of the show; Melina Kanakardes (Stella Bonasera) is talking about penning one. Would that ever be something that would interest you, and if so, what would you want to explore?

Giovinazzo: I've written a couple of movies; I write all the time. I've written a couple of scripts with my brother-in-law who was a detective in New York for twenty years. To me, the complicated thing would be coming up with a really good crime, and the way the crime is laid out. It's the main core of the episode, and once you have that, I think it would be a blast to be able to write how I feel the characters [are]. What they could say and their interactions would be great, but you have to get over that hump of having the crime down and the way it's going to be laid out and how it's going to evolve and keep the audience at bay until the end. That's the complicated thing. The only reason I probably haven't done that was because of laziness or other things I'm working on. I probably will do that; I probably will present them with something at some point. I want to do that and I can do that, and I think it's just a matter of taking the time to do it.

CSI Files: What would be your dream storyline?

Giovinazzo: I don't know; maybe something where the guys--Mac, Flack and Danny--all kind of come together in a really intense case. Maybe some serious criminals [come in] and you get into scenes where life is threatened. Something intense where we all can really get into it. Maybe an episode where A.J. Buckley's character (Adam Ross) gets shot in the leg!

CSI Files: You want to see A.J. get shot?

Giovinazzo: I want to see A.J. get shot in an episode by Flack! Accidentally. And Flack gets thrown in the slammer for a minute. Maybe I gotta try to figure why he did it. But I think I would know why: it's very easy to want to shoot A.J.

CSI Files: Poor A.J.!

Giovinazzo: I just want the guys to have [a great episode]. Again, it's like the crime is difficult, but if that was done, it would be something that could really put everybody in [a tough situation]. It [could be] like the episode with Gary being taken hostage ("Hostage"). It would be nice to have an episode like that where everybody's involved. Everybody's kind of on it and on the move and kind of in a precarious situation, everybody's threatened.

CSI Files: Danny seems to get himself into trouble quite frequently; are there any 'Danny in danger' episodes on the horizon?

Giovinazzo: No, I guess the only danger coming up is the responsibility of being a dad. I'm not sure that's danger. As far as the stories, I'm not sure what's coming up. I think the baby scenario with Lindsay is probably going wrap him up for a while.

CSI Files: Can you tease anything more about Wednesday's upcoming episode?

Giovinazzo: It's a real sweet episode. I would say that Lindsay will have some surprising answers to a few of my questions. I think you're going to get a lot of clarity on how they feel about each other. You might be surprised at how Lindsay feels.

CSI Files: She has told Danny she loves him twice!

Giovinazzo: I think that we're almost seeing eye-to-eye finally. Somewhat!

CSI Files: What's the latest with your band, Ceesau?

Giovinazzo: Tell everybody to go to Ceesau.com and buy some more records and shirts! A portion of the proceeds goes to charity.

CSI Files: When are you guys going to play live?

Giovinazzo: My drummer [Michael Brasic] is trying to make a living, he's playing with this band and that band. The guitar player that played on the record [John Patrick Amedori] is doing his thing. I have another guitar player that I'm playing with who actually works on the show. We've been writing songs. The Ceesau thing to me is something that I think reflects what's going on in the world so much right now: the balance in the world and that being the slogan on the shirts--'A World in Balance'--and with a black [man] and a white [man] representing this country. It's just so poignant to me at this point. I'm just glad it's out there. I hope we can play [live]; it'll come.

All that stuff I'm trying to put out there is about spreading that kind of message more than anything else. If I could actually make some profit from it, I've got a couple of foundations in Staten Island that I've been working with now for kids that are sick and different kinds of organizations. So if I can start getting this out there, it's something that I'd love to have happen. So that's why I'm always kind of putting it out there. I usually don't try to to hawk stuff. In the words of Marlon Brando, I'm not a huckster!

CSI Files: How often do you guys get together and find time for the music?

Giovinazzo: We try at a minimum once a week. During the week is tough; we're doubling up on episodes [on CSI: NY]. I'm always writing when I'm home; as far as getting the crew together, at least once a week.

CSI Files: Are you guys working on a new album?

Giovinazzo: Yeah, we're writing new songs to try to add to what's out there already. I'm not sure if I want to release another single as it comes. It's a lot easier to get a song done under the time [constraints] I have now, get another song out there. The last one we ended up saying, "Well heck, let's just do five." So I definitely have a couple of more songs that just need to be fine tuned before we record them, so if that happens, maybe there would be another album. I kind of would just like to when we come up with five or six more songs that we're content with to kind of put it all together to have a nice real album. That's definitely the goal.

Discuss this interviews at Talk CSI!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.