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Enrico Colantoni is an actor who knows what he wants and obviously has the talent to get it, having been on the radar since the late 90’s with hit series and movie roles. He’s best known as the flirtatious and funny Elliot DiMauro, the photographer for Blush magazine on "Just Shoot Me." But he was also able to totally switch characters and play the inquisitive former sheriff Keith Mars on CW’s hit show "Veronica Mars."

Colantoni is now taking his law enforcement persona to the extreme, and has scored the leading role of Sgt. George Parker in the upcoming CBS series "Flashpoint." He claims the role isn’t that much of a stretch, because playing Papa Mars helped him prepare for the challenges of his new character. 

“I find it to be the next step up,” Colantoni told Dish. “Keith was a very intelligent man, he was a very compassionate man, and this new character is as compassionate, as intelligent, but he gets to wear a really cool uniform. He gets to bust doors down and stuff like that as well. He’s just a fitter, trimmer Keith Mars.” 

Cool uniforms are always a necessity in police dramas, and this show’s accessories will undoubtedly be enjoyed by audiences, but the ultimate kicker is in the intense storyline that will have viewers on the edge of their seats. The new show, shot and set in Toronto, Canada, depicts the every day challenges facing the Strategic Response Unit, some of the country’s leading law enforcement officers who stop at nothing to catch the bad guys. This team is based on Canada’s real-life Toronto Emergency Task Force that handles hostage situations, defuses bombs, prevents suicides, and even guards the Pope on occasion. These brave men and women have seen and handled it all and have gotten to use the most technologically advanced weapons while doing it.  

“It’s a show about the cost of heroism,” Colantoni said. “In particular, this team of elite policemen essentially put their lives on the line every day, and my character Parker is the lead negotiator. So, he really attaches himself to the problem and compassionately identifies with all these people he’s trying to talk out of situations.”  

When asked if he was anything like Sgt. Parker, he said, “The thing about Keith Mars and Parker is that they’re really alpha males. They’re masculine, they’re aggressive and they’re warriors. And I’m an actor.” 

He’s humble when it comes to his star status because, although he might not always be as tough as the characters he plays, he has no trouble getting the roles, and he credits his success on his work ethic. “Work begets work,” he explained. “You’re working and you’re not judging the job, you know, because I come from a blue collar background. My dad was a laborer, my mom worked in a sweatshop. So, I just want to work.” 

Not just a tough guy, he also likes to take on the challenge of other acting genres, and some of his other work includes his role as Mathesar in the fun, sci-fi family film "Galaxy Quest," the role of Elia Kazan in the classic "James Dean" in 2001, and most recently as Enrico the Chef in George Gallo’s comedy "My Mom’s New Boyfriend," where he plays a heart-broken chef who serenades Meg Ryan every night. 

With these accomplishments, it comes as a surprise to find that he didn’t always want to be an actor. Acting was just a hobby he picked up in college, but he happened to fall in love with the craft and has been doing it ever since. 

“Well, because my teacher told me it takes ten years to be an actor, I took that literally,” he said. “In my mind, I spent my twenties studying. So, I went to school, studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I struggled in New York City doing off-off Broadway plays, [and] I went to the Yale School of Drama. When I got out of the Yale School of Drama I was 30 years old, and I got my first job. Later, if you have a good agent, and they’re good enough to get you good appointments, and you’re good enough to get a job, you’re going to get a job. That’s when I got 'NYPD Blue,' and that was my introduction to television.” 

Compared to where he is now, playing a lead role on a new show, it’s hard to imagine that fourteen years ago he started out playing the late Peter Boil’s schizophrenic son, Danny Breen, a two-episode part on "NYPD Blue." Though his recent work schedule keeps him constantly busy shooting "Flashpoint" in Canada, he’s able to keep his work life and personal life pretty well-balanced, and he spends every chance he gets with his kids. 

“They have known since they were very young that daddy goes off to work,” Colantoni said. “But then the cool part is, when dad’s not working, they get to see him all the time. So, they are very lucky in that when I am home and don’t have to go to work, [I see them]. They’re old enough and sophisticated enough to know that when dad goes to work, they might not get to see him for a while, but he always comes home. So that’s the balance. It’s just when work comes, one needs to provide, and when it’s not there, I have other roles to take care of. And that’s probably the most fun right now because they’re at such a great age. Clinton [my son] is 10. [They are] ten and seven, a boy and a girl.” 

When he has any other down time, he likes to spend it watching and playing hockey, as well as cooking and doing other outdoor sports, such as going skiing and snowboarding with his son and daughter. 

He’s currently away from his kids but is enjoying his time back in his hometown of Toronto. “It’s great,” he said. “I get to see my old friends, everything feels familiar. [It’s] just going home,  but I wish my kids were here. They’re in school, they’re going to come in the summer, and they’re going to join me then.” 

So until then, he’ll continue working hard on the show and having a good time with a great cast. “I’m working with a lovely gentleman named Hugh Dillon, who is a former rock star, and Amy Jo Johnson who was on 'Felicity,' 'Power Rangers,' she’s really cool, and David Paetkau who was on 'LAX,' who could play Robert Redford. They’re all really talented, really cool people. We’re just having a great time.” 

Be sure to catch Enrico Colantoni on the exciting new drama Flashpoint, premiering Friday, July 11 on CBS at 10pm et/pt. / Issue 85 - September 2018
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