The story of how “CSI: Miami” star Eva La Rue met and married Monterey businessman Joe Cappuccio starts with a photograph hanging on a refrigerator.
“His real estate lawyer is married to my best friend from junior high,” the actress explains. “Joe saw a picture of me on their fridge and said, ‘Who’s this girl?’ They said, ‘That’s our friend, Eva.’ He said, ‘You’ve got to set me up with her.'”
The couple married in June in Mexico, surrounded by 50 friends and family members. The Gipsy Kings played at the reception, under a sky filled with fireworks, and La Rue describes it as a “beautiful, elegant, emotional ceremony”— right up to the water fight.
“It was still 80 degrees at 10 o’clock at night, and everybody was dancing and sweating, so my brother and daughter started a water fight,” she says. “There’s this awesome shot the photographer got of 30 of us, all holding hands, jumping into the pool in our wedding clothes. It was so much fun.”
La Rue’s playful attitude shines through in conversation, but it’s also clear that the Emmy nominated actress takes her career seriously—and not surprisingly, her best-known characters are women of substance. On “CSI: Miami,” La Rue plays crime-solving DNA lab specialist and grant writer Natalia Boa Vista.
Before that, she portrayed neurosurgeon Dr. Maria Santos Grey on “All My Children.” She has also appeared in “Third Watch,” co-hosted “Modern Girl’s Guide to Life,” and played Annette Funicello in a TV movie about her life. The Southern California native grew up dancing, singing and dreaming of a Broadway career (“I wanted to be Shirley MacLaine,” La Rue says), before making her on-screen start at age 6. She first appeared in a commercial for Del Monte green beans, followed by ads for Fanta, A&W Root Beer and Dittos jeans.
A high school “Star Search” acting competition put her on the television path. After securing small parts on several shows, La Rue landed a role on the soap opera “Santa Barbara.”A few years later, she signed on for “All My Children.”
” ‘All My Children’ was a huge, huge life-changing thing for me. It was the most regular work I’d ever had,” she says. “I’d never lived anywhere other than Southern California, and I picked up and moved to New York for 12 years.”
La Rue earned a Daytime Emmy nomination and two American Latino Media Arts (ALMA) awards for her portrayal of Dr. Santos. While she didn’t consider herself a Latina role model at the time—she is of French, Dutch, Scottish and Puerto Rican descent—she recognizes that she helped change stereotypes. “Before Eva Longoria got ‘Desperate Housewives’ and made it cool to have Latin girls in nighttime television, there were no Latin girls on TV,” she says. “Even on ‘All My Children,’ we were the first Latin family on daytime TV to not be the housekeepers or the maids or the bit parts. I was a brain surgeon.”
After “All My Children,” La Rue returned to Los Angeles to be near family. Shortly thereafter, she was cast in “CSI: Miami” and now stars alongside David Caruso and Emily Procter.
“I absolutely stepped in gold,” La Rue says of the show, which is shot in Manhattan Beach. She and Cappuccio have a home nearby in the Los Angeles area, and another in Monterey, close to his family and one of his commercial fishing plants. Cappuccio returns to the Monterey Peninsula every few weeks; La Rue and her 8-year-old daughter accompany him as often as possible. She fell in love with the area years ago, when she married her first husband at Stonepine.
“Before I ever met Joe, I always said,’Someday, I will retire there.’ Big Sur, I think, is the most beautiful place on earth. I’ve been to Ireland, the south of France, Italy…to date, I have never seen a more beautiful coastline,” she says.
When in town, La Rue takes her daughter and nieces to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and she enjoys shopping in Carmel’s galleries, antique stores and linen shops. They often eat at the Fish Hopper in Monterey, and at Katy’s Place in Carmel.
“I have never, in all my travels, been any place that has a better breakfast than Katy’s Place,” she says. “It has that big cool tree outside, and you can just sit and watch the world go by.” With busy work and travel schedules, such quiet moments are rare. Still, La Rue makes time for important causes. She spent three years as a spokesperson for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and she currently works with Beckstrand Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to those struggling with cancer-related expenses. In addition, she and her husband are planning an organization to help individuals and families in need.
“We feel really lucky to have met each other and to be living the life that we’re living…We want to make sure that not only are the people around us happy and comfortable, but that the people not around us are happy and comfortable,” says La Rue, adding that her work, while challenging, allows her to do such things.
“I think this business offers you the opportunity, if you can stay balanced, to have everything you want: to have your family, and travel, and help other people and make life for your family and friends better. I just think the toughest thing is staying on top of that balance.”