Gino Anthony Pesi has starred in many police procedurals, but the “Shades of Blue” actor’s life feels more like an episode of “House” — and a far-fetched one at that. Four years ago, he was suffering from an illness that caused weight gain and depression and baffled doctors. Pesi spoke with Variety about his role on “Blue” and his journey of self-diagnosing a rare disease.
What were your first TV roles like?
I got my first network gig on “CSI: Miami.” It was a couple of one-liners, but it was terrifying because it was in front of over 100 extras.
But now you seem so confident alongside stars like Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta.
I was confident on “Shades of Blue” because a lot has happened to me in my life since then. Any concern I had wasn’t about being opposite Ray and Jennifer, it was about am I going to be able to give them what they want in order to play a leading man? I never saw myself that way after a few things happened in my life.
What things are you referring to?
When I was shooting “42,” I was going through terrible medical issues. Over the course of five years, there was a list of about 10 symptoms I had, and my health was declining in many ways. I had been to five different doctors and they were all telling me that it was symptoms of old age. [He was 32.] I went home to Pittsburgh for about a week and I was dedicated to figuring out what was wrong with me. I took the list of symptoms. I learned what all of the blood work meant. I sat down and taught myself everything, looked everything up, and then I saw that something was maybe slightly off with one of my hormones. I thought, Well, they didn’t test my growth hormones. So I paid for my own lab work. The test came back really high. I walked the results into the doctor’s office and I said, “I think I have a tumor in my pituitary, and I think it’s caused a disease in my body called acromegaly.”
So what’s your current health situation?
I had neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins and then over the course of the next couple years, I lost a hundred pounds. I have my blood work taken every six months to a year to make sure the tumor doesn’t come back. I look at that as the greatest gift I’ve had. I can refer to how I felt in that moment and use it as a point of reference in my life. The perspective I walked away with was life-changing.
What you didn’t know about Gino Anthony Pesi
AGE: 36 BORN: Pittsburgh FAVORITE SPORT: Baseball FAVORITE TEAM: Pittsburgh Pirates MOST-USED APP: MLB Trade Rumors