Departing Law & Order: SVU star Chris Meloni has big shoes to fill after his 12-year stint on the NBC hit, but Danny Pino is up to the challenge.
The 37-year-old Cold Case regular has been tapped to replace Meloni when the series returns for its 13th season this September. Joining Pino in the special victims unit this fall will be Kelli Giddish, formerly of NBC's Chase.
But just who is the guy who'll hit the streets of New York City battling sex crimes? Us Weekly uncovered five need-to-know details about SVU's newest star.
1. He comes highly recommended. Reportedly beating out four other actors — David Conrad (Ghost Whisperer), Kevin Alejandro (True Blood), Michael Raymond-James (Terriers) and Rhys Coiro (Entourage) — Pino has already received SVU producer Dick Wolf's stamp of approval. "I'm very pleased that we have two amazing actors joining the cast," Wolf told Us when Pino and Giddish's roles were announced Monday. "I know this combination will give us the opportunity to explore the world of SVU with new eyes."
2. He's no stranger to primetime dramas. Making a name for himself on FX's The Shield as serial rapist Armadillo Quintero, Pino has brought Scotty Valens to life on CBS' Cold Case since 2003. The actor also starred as Desi Arnaz in the TV movie The Lucille Ball Story.
3. He's rubbed elbows with Hollywood's elite. Relatively unknown to TV audiences, Pino carries with him an extensive theater background. In 2002, the actor appeared in London's West End in a play with none other than Madonna called "Up for Grabs." He also starred with Billy Crudup in the New York Shakespeare Festival's productions of "The Winter's Tale" and "Measure for Measure."
4. He's a former frat boy. When the Miami native wasn't hitting the books at Florida International University, he was hanging out as a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He graduated in 1996.
5. He's a family man. Married to wife Lilly since 2002, the couple have two sons: Luca Daniel and Julian Franco.
Tell Us: Are you excited for Danny Pino to appear on Law & Order: SVU this fall?
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!