I interviewed actor Peter Facinelli who stars as Dr. Cullen in the Twilight” movies and also as Dr. Fitch Cooper in the TV series “Nurse Jackie.”
What made you want to take a part in the "Twilight" series?
When I first got the call about doing a vampire movie I wasn’t that excited. I was thinking it was going to be some kind of blood and guts horror film. But then I read the book, and I fell in love with it. I loved how it mixed this Romeo and Juliet love story with the folklore of the vampire tale.
Which one of the "Twilight" movies did you enjoy working in the most?
I enjoyed working on “Eclipse” the most because I got to do action, and the action stuff was a lot of fun. "Eclipse" is also my favorite book.
Was it difficult acting blind in the movie “Touch the Top of the World”?
I had them make contact lenses so that I actually was blind when I shot the movie. I felt like having to play blind all the time would be distracting, and I wanted to experience what Erik Weihenmayer had to experience on a daily basis. At the end of the day I wanted to focus my attention on who Erik was. Being blind isn’t who Erik is, it is just a physical attribute, and in the end something he had to overcome. So having the lenses not only gave me a fuller experience as to what Erik had to go through, but, it allowed me to put my focus on Erik’s persona.
Which is easier, playing the role of Dr. Cullen ("Twilight"), or Dr. Cooper ("Nurse Jackie"), and which is more fun?
They are both fun, and very different characters. I would say that Dr. Cooper is a little easier. Carlisle is not human, yet he tries to appear human. So with Carlisle it’s almost a performance within a performance. He almost never eats, doesn’t drink or eat human food, and never gets tired. There are a range of things that I am restricted from playing or doing. He is a very still character, and as an actor the hardest thing to do is be still, because you don’t want to appear stiff. So I am very conscious when I play Carlisle to make keep his inner emotions fueled at all times so that even in stillness there is something there.
What is it like filming "Twilight"?
This is a very important franchise for a lot of people, so I take the responsibility of playing my part very seriously. Although, as a cast we have fun being with each other, we are all working very hard to put everything we can into making it the best movie we can because we know a lot of fans will be watching.
Which genre do you enjoy doing the most?
I’ve been fortunate to do comedy, drama and action films, and I love doing them all. I love to switch things up so that I don't get bored. So if I just found something dramatic, I'll try to do something more comical or action oriented the next time. It's hard for me to choose one genre. I think in general, I just like taking people on emotional journeys, whether it’s affecting them enough to laugh, cry, or get their adrenaline pumping with some great action.
How do you memorize the lines for your movies?
I just do it. It's part of the job. I find that the more I know my character the easier it is for me to say the lines.
As the father of three girls, if you could change anything in the world, what would it be?
We need to clean up the Earth. And quickly! As a father of three, I worry that we are leaving them a world of problems. From climate issues to pollution to water shortages. As a species, something must be done and I feel like you're never too young to start. The first step is being conscious. Be aware of recycling, food wasting, and how much water you waste when you brush your teeth. It seems silly, because you think you're just one person. But if each person did a little something we can change the world.
Any advice for kids who want to go into acting?
Study the craft. There are tons of books on acting techniques even if there are no classes around you to study. And there are always school plays for you to put those techniques into practice. Don’t get down on yourself or put too much pressure on yourself. You don't have to be the best actor in the world at your age. You just have to keep doing it, learning and growing. You will get better the more you apply yourself.
When did you realize you wanted to be an actor?
I was in the third grade and read a picture biography book on Robert Redford. Shortly after, I saw a movie that Robert Redford and Paul Newman did together called “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” It inspired me to want to be an actor, but it took a long time for me to embrace that dream. I was very shy when I was younger and had to outgrow my shyness.
Who is your role model, and why?
When I was younger I looked up to actors that inspired me like Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. These are names you may not be familiar with, but they were actors whose work I admired. Watching their work made me want to do what I do now. Most of those actors are gone now, unfortunately, so today I myself try to be a role model to others. Not just in my craft as an actor, but in the charity work I do outside of my job, the kindness I display to my family, the love I show for my children, the respect I have for other human beings, and for the Earth that I live on.
Who was your favorite actor or actress to work with?
I have gotten to work with so many talented people, it is hard to narrow it down to one. I try to learn something from everyone I work with, so at the time I work with them they are my favorite.