Like the unsolved crimes he investigates, Detective Scotty Valens has a hidden past.
“He’s very much veiled in some mystery about where he came from, how it is he got into the department so quickly, the secrets he holds,” says Danny Pino, who plays Valens on CBS’ “Cold Case.”
Now in reruns on Sunday nights at 8, “Cold Case” begins its third season this fall in the same time slot.
Valens was introduced in the sixth episode in November 2003 – a somewhat hotheaded guy, confident enough to challenge the authority of both his partner in the Philadelphia-based homicide squad, Detective Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris), and their boss, Lt. John Stillman (John Finn).
“We found him to be intriguing – strong, yet understated,” says show creator Meredith Stiehm. “We’ve realized there’s no limit to his ability, so we’ve been writing more and more for him.”
Consequently, Valens’ private life has become a significant part of the story line.
And some life it is. Valens’ fiancee, Elisa, was schizophrenic. Then she died. Later, he became involved with Rush’s wayward sister, Christina, which upset Rush. Then Christina disappeared.
At the start of this season, Valens will revisit unanswered questions surrounding Elisa’s death. It was deemed a suicide but he thinks it was a homicide.
In real life, Pino, a 31-year-old first-generation Cuban American who was born in Miami, is married to his childhood sweetheart. They live in Los Angeles with a puppy, Mambo.
“He’s such a great dog. I never thought I was going to be a weird dog person, because there are a lot of weird dog people in L.A., but I’m officially a weird dog person,” Pino says, laughing.
His previous TV credits include the role of “Armadillo” Quintero on the second season of FX’s crime drama “The Shield” and as Desi Arnaz in “Lucy,” a 2003 CBS biopic about Lucille Ball‘s tempestuous marriage to the Cuban-born bandleader.
“Growing up seeing Desi, I thought there were Cubans all over Hollywood,” Pino says. “I understood that dialogue, everything he said. It wasn’t weird to me because that’s the way my dad talked.”
Pino believes his interest in acting came partly from listening to “the oral tradition in my family that has been passed on – telling stories, sitting around talking, playing dominoes and smoking cigars.”
“You heard a story and you immediately imagined it in your head … a description of the houses and the beach in Cuba, how crystal clear the water was, and the sand so fine and white, and stories of those relatives you never met and never will meet.”
Pino will soon be seen on the big screen as a ranchhand in “Flicka,” and alongside Poppy Montgomery in “Between.”
He also plays a student activist in “The Lost City,” Andy Garcia‘s upcoming movie about the Cuban revolution.
“This might sound corny,” he says, “but it was my way of thanking my grandparents for all the sacrifices they made – that decision to come here to the United States to start over from nothing.”
The birthday bunch
Actor-filmmaker-writer Melvin Van Peebles is 73. Singer Kenny Rogers is 67. Actor Clarence Williams III (“The Mod Squad”) is 66. Actress Kim Cattrall is 49. Actress Carrie-Anne Moss is 35. Singer Kelis is 26. Actress Hayden Panettiere (“Racing Stripes,” “Remember the Titans”) is 16.
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