BEFORE THE SCENE with Carmine Giovinazzo

by AJ Buckley on June 6, 2010

Before the Scene is where we all start. In a small town with our families. In front of a mirror with our friends. The days spent sleeping on a couch. The nights working at a bar. Living with the unknown and surrounded by uncertainty. It’s about the times that define us. It’s about the darkness just before the limelight.
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For the past six years Carmine has starred as detective Danny Messer on the CBS hit CSI:NY. After an injury ended his athletic career, Carmine moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time. He got his break with a part in the pilot episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and has since appeared in Black Hawk Down, The Red Zone, In Enemy Hands and more. He is also one of few actors to have appeared in all three CSI series. Carmine spends time off set playing guitar, golfing and riding his Harley.
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Q: What made you want to become an actor?

A: Watching films like Mean Streets and anything by John Cassevettes inspired me to want to be involved in film. I happened to be going to a school that had a theatre program while I was playing baseball. When baseball ended abruptly (and painfully) due to an injury, I just dove into acting.  I had done many, many short films by this time. It was something I did growing up all the time, from sketches to little stories to visuals that had a lot to do with the music. We’d do everything…editing, titling, shooting. This was early on using “on the shoulder” VHS cameras. Anyhow, I dove into class in New York and started responding to ads in Backstage. You could find great student films in there…indies, extra work…I did all of that. I’ve always had a [creative] outlet (that I would realize later was necessary) drawing, painting, music and acting. When it’s right, acting can be so inspiring and relieving. And the fact that people respond to it at times is a bonus.

Q: What was your biggest fear?
A: Being in front of an audience and maintaining the focus to be inside what I was working on. It’s an odd physical relationship, making movies and television (theatre is obviously different).  But [retaining] that sense of concentration and not losing it [can be difficult].

Q: What kept you from walking away?
A: Probably a year or two before I got CSI:NY was the first time I started contemplating going back home to New York and changing my priorities. I had been in L.A. just long enough to get annoyed by it and recognize a side of the business one tries to avoid. I don’t know if I was really going to get out of the business but I was ready to go back and be with my family and just stop fighting for something that seemed to be about all the wrong things. But I didn’t. I didn’t walk away. Because I don’t do that. Maybe it was my history as an athlete that kept me from backing off.

Q: What did you walk away from?
A: I left my hometown at twenty-one and all that support, which was my closest ally. My family has been behind all that I’ve tried and I don’t have that here in L.A.  I’ve created a home base here at this point, but I left [home] to be out here alone and broke while trying to break into the toughest business next to becoming a professional athlete.

Q: What were you doing the morning before the audition that changed your life?
A: The morning before, I was sweeping the leaves in my backyard. I like doing that. I never did create a yard where I could invite people over but I would always straighten it out.

Q: What were the words that kept you going?
A: “Conscience and the prompting of the heart dictate at once what one must tell.” (from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot)

Q: How have you changed?
A: I have a few grey hairs near my sideburns. And like Henry David Thoreau, I believe we should take care of our own lot and I disagree with the way in which we are taxed.

Q: What words do you have to inspire others?
A: Be original. Find the right folks before you to follow but make your view a unique one. Realize at the end of the day all you need is a cozy corner and someone to love.
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Over the past five years AJ Buckley has starred as Adam Ross on the hit TV show “CSI:NY.” Originally from Dublin, Ireland, he has spent the past ten years in Los Angeles, California, acting and writing. Buckley’s latest project, “Skateland,” is currently screening in the film festival circuit. He is also currently writing and starring in the web series “GhostFacers” for Warner Brothers, which can be seen at www.GhostFacers.com.