Fans of CBS' Thursday hit "Without a Trace" got a bit of a surprise in the March 9 episode titled "Check Your Head."
In a bowling-alley scene at the end of this unusually loopy episode about a missing supposed agoraphobic, Anthony LaPaglia and Enrique Murciano, as FBI Special Agents Jack Malone and Danny Taylor, burst into a rendition of the Dean Martin classic "That's Amore."
"We sang, we laughed, we cried," Murciano says. "It was good. It was a lot of fun. We didn't even plan it. That was Anthony. He did it, and I jumped right into it."
Murciano is relaxing in his trailer on the Warner Bros. lot between takes. Earlier, he was shooting scenes with Eric Close, as FBI Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald, and new regular Roselyn Sanchez, as Elena Delgado, the latest member of the New York-based missing-persons squad.
Playing the rest of the squad are Poppy Montgomery as Samantha Spade and Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Vivian Johnson.
While the humor and the singing in "Check Your Head" may be unusual for the series, they're not unusual on the set. On this particular day, Murciano spends the time between takes bouncing around like a puppy, laughing and joking -- which is just business as usual for the Miami native.
"The other day," Murciano says, "someone said to me that my energy, when you talk to me, hang out with me, is of an 8-year-old boy. On screen, I've got a 45-year-old thing going on. I was like, 'Wait a minute, how does that work?'
"You just saw me shooting. When I'm shooting, I'm a nightmare, running all around the set. That's the way I work. I like to have energy. I like to make mistakes, and hopefully we get good stuff. But you don't see it on screen.
"I never see the show when it's running on the air, but I have TiVo. I'll go home, and I'll see two or three episodes at a time. It's weird. It's almost like, 'It's not even me. Wait, I did that? I said that like that? Wow.'"
Over the course of the conversation, Murciano expresses his affection for many folks, starting with Henry Winkler of the recently shelved CBS comedy "Out of Practice," who came to fame as the Fonz on "Happy Days."
"I love Winkler," Murciano says. "He's one of the nicest guys in the business, if not the nicest. When I started acting, I met him through a friend of mine who was very close to him, so he took me under his wing. He coached me for one of my very first auditions, took time out of his busy schedule."
As to whether he'd like Winkler to appear on "Without a Trace," Murciano says, "I would love it. I'd give him half my salary for the week. If $18 will get him to come on this show, I'll do it. He's one of my favorite people in the world."
He also has high praise for movie stars Denzel Washington ("He's my role model"), Gary Oldman, Sean Penn and Johnny Depp. And he's pretty fond of LaPaglia.
"Anthony plays the role of the star quarterback as far as our cast is concerned," Murciano says. "He sets a fantastic example and tone on our set. He's very cool, and he's very smart."
Murciano's love doesn't stop there. "Working with all the people that I work with is my favorite thing on this show, because they each offer something different. Poppy's so smart and clever and sarcastic and funny. Eric's just a good guy, a simple guy. He's great. Marianne is heaven, and now with Roselyn on the show, she's so much fun."
Although Murciano's character is called Danny Taylor, that's not the name he was born with; in an episode, he had a brother surnamed Alvarez. Bringing Sanchez, a native of Puerto Rico, on the show has allowed a different side of Danny -- and Murciano, a Cuban-American -- to come out.
"Around her, he lets go," Murciano says. "Because it's Roselyn, I let loose when I'm working. I get so many letters telling me how much they love Roselyn and I together, when are Roselyn and I going to get together, when that's going to happen.
"They just want that love story. There's something that excites people about Roselyn and I. I don't know what it is. In the tabloids, it said that the two of us were having a real-life relationship, and it's not true. So there's something there.
"The fans keep saying, 'When are you two going to get together?' So we'll see."
On April 28, limited release began for "The Lost City," a film directed and produced by its star, Cuban-born actor Andy Garcia, whose brother-in-law is married to Murciano's aunt.
In the film, set during the Cuban revolution in 1959 and shot in the Dominican Republic, Garcia and Murciano play brothers caught up in the turmoil. Also starring are Bill Murray, Nestor Carbonell, Steven Bauer and Dustin Hoffman as gangster Meyer Lansky.
"I'm very proud of the movie," Murciano says. "We screened it last week in Miami for about 2,500 people. We got a standing ovation. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. It's a very emotional movie. It's not just for Cubans but for anyone who has a family. It's about what people go through to enjoy freedom."
For Murciano, it reminded him of how he feels about where he lives now. "I like it right where I'm at. I like it right here in Los Angeles and Miami and New York. I love it. I'll tell you, I've been everywhere in the world, and there's no place like the USA. If you don't like it, take a tour around the world and come back and tell me what you think, because I've been everywhere.
"That's what this movie's about, not so much about the USA, but it's about freedom."