'Oz' Star Winters Is Brother to the Stars
By Kate O'Hare
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
From 1997 until 2003, on HBO's prison drama "Oz," Dean Winters played wily inmate Ryan O'Reily, who spent a lot of his time and energy protecting his mentally impaired brother and cellmate, Cyril, played by Winters' own brother, Scott (ABC's "10-8").
Recently, Winters headed from his native New York to the Los Angeles area to bunk with his brother while playing a pivotal guest role in "10-7," the season finale of CBS' "CSI: Miami," scheduled to air Monday, May 23.
He's playing Raymond Caine, the much-discussed and presumed dead -- until the last few episodes, that is -- cop brother of Miami detective and forensic investigator Horatio Caine (David Caruso).
Over the run of the show, Horatio has dealt with the belief, not only that Ray was dead, but that he was corrupt. He's also been a surrogate father to Ray's son (Hayden Tank) and a good friend (and almost, but not quite, a romantic interest) to his supposed widow, Detective Yelina Salas (Sofia Milos). In the episode, Horatio deals with the reality of Ray's situation and makes a heartbreaking choice.
To do "CSI: Miami," Winters took a break from filming the sophomore season of FX's New York City firefighter drama "Rescue Me," which has its season premiere on Tuesday, June 21. In that, he plays cop Johnny Gavin, the brother of firefighter Tommy Gavin, played by series creator Denis Leary. After being a recurring character in season one, so far this year, Winters says, he's been in every episode.
"Right now," Winters says, "I'm doing double duty as brother to the stars. I don't know what's up with that, but it's OK. It keeps me employed. I have these friends of mine in New York, and they're like, 'You're doing "CSI: Miami"?' I go, 'Yeah.' They go, 'Are you the dead crackhead brother?' I'm like, 'Yeah, that's me.'"
Although he doesn't especially resemble Leary or Caruso, Winters says, 'I just shot with David this morning. It's funny, there's a chemistry with both guys. They're both very strong personalities in different ways.
"David's real quiet and very intense. Denis definitely takes his work seriously, but he's more of a raconteur. When we're not shooting, he's telling great stories. He has the Irish fabulist in him. He's keeping us constantly entertained.
"But they're both really good actors. You always want to up your game. I haven't really upped my game since 'Oz' ended, so it's nice to be working with these guys."
Working on a critically acclaimed show like "Oz," created by Tom Fontana ("Homicide: Life on the Street") -- whose arm can be seen being tattooed with the "Oz" logo in the opening credits -- can be personally and creatively rewarding, but it does have its downside.
"'Oz' was definitely the good old days," Winters says. "It's one of those things that will never be repeated. I think a lot of the actors on 'Oz' make the mistake of trying to find 'Oz' in other projects, but it's never going to happen. I'm not talking about intensity, but just the whole atmosphere of 'Oz.'
"I don't care what actor says what a great family their set was, nothing can rival 'Oz,' and nobody rivals Tom. There are a lot of good writers, but nobody encompasses what Tom does -- the personality, the talent, the generosity. Just hats off. He got a tattoo for us. Who does that?"
Winters isn't sure if his one-episode stint on "CSI: Miami" will turn into anything else, and he's trying not to worry about it.
"I'm gong to go where the work is," he says. "We're having a good time this year on 'Rescue Me.' I'm not sure what 'CSI: Miami' has in store. I'm just literally going where my agent tells me the work is, and hopefully it'll stay that way. There were a tough couple of years after 'Oz,' and I don't want to go through that again."