After three years of public silence, “NYPD Blue” exile David Caruso Wednesday told his side of why he left Steven Bochco’s smash ABC drama.
Caruso, who stars as a cop-turned-federal prosecutor in the new CBS drama “Michael Hayes,” disputed published reports that he threw temper tantrums on the “NYPD” set, demanded more money and had a miserable relationship with co-star Dennis Franz.
“There were times I probably did not make the right choice in the moment, when I could have been more of an adult, more of a leader,” said Caruso, who played sexy Detective John Kelly in the show’s debut 1993-94 season.
“I didn’t have the tools or the experience to understand the dynamic I was in the midst of,” he said. “On the other side, I had never faced that level of exhaustion before, working 15-, 16-hour days on a single-character show. I never had a day off.
“That’s not an excuse. It’s a hindsight thing.”
The outbursts on the set were just Caruso’s way of summoning energy late in the day for a good performance, he insisted.
“I would yell at myself, psych myself up like an athlete. Some people were unused to that.
“They felt I was judging them or the production. I never undermined another person or hurt anyone’s performance.”
Caruso, whose post-“NYPD” movie resume includes bombs “Kiss of Death” and “Jade,” said he and the Emmy-winning Franz, who played his partner, Andy Sipowicz, “never got a chance to develop a relationship because of the nature of the work schedule.”
He described his relationship with Bochco as “very rich and complicated, yet positive.” The producer had the legal option to veto any Caruso project for the duration of his original five-year “NYPD Blue” contract.
He walked away because he craved a more flexible schedule, not more money, he added.
Now, blessed with a stable private life and a solid marriage (to Dallas-born Margaret Buckley, a non-actor), Caruso has “more to offer. I finally know how to handle my responsibility. I’ve adjusted to the weight of it.”
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