There are some actors you want to root for because they just seem like decent people. I've always felt Peter Facinelli is one of the good guys, and he's very generous in interviews - even when asked for the millionth time a question about Twilight. Playing Dr. Carlisle Cullen in the blockbuster vampire love story has introduced Facinelli to a new generation of fans, but it's not the only project the actor-producer has in the works.
In this exclusive interview during the LA press day for the fourth film of the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn Part 1, he discussed playing Carlisle, his role on Nurse Jackie (if you've never watched an episode of the Showtime series, you're missing out on seeing Facinelli in one of his best roles to date), and why he decided to form his own production company.
Peter Facinelli Exclusive The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 Interview
Why can’t we have more Carlisle in these movies, seriously?
Peter Facinelli: [Laughing] "I don’t know. I don’t write them; I just show up and say the lines."
Do you want to inject more comedy to lighten the mood in the films? I know from outtakes and previous interviews you seem to have a joke ready to go at any time.
Peter Facinelli: "Yeah, Carlisle’s not the most humorous. I try to loosen him up a little bit. I mean, I don’t know if they use some of this stuff. Kellan [Lutz’s] character has more of the comedic, kind of fun, loose stuff. Carlisle is more straight, buttoned up, responsible, mature. Takes a lot of acting for me to be mature. [Laughing] It’s a lot easier to be Coop!"
After watching all these movies, I can't help wondering why Billy Burke’s character, a cop, doesn’t he recognize that this family is not human?
Peter Facinelli: "He’s not that observant. He drinks a lot, too."
They don’t show us that part.
Peter Facinelli: "I always wondered that, too. It's like he’s not a very good police officer."
When you first signed on to the franchise, there was absolutely no way you could have known this is the direction Stephenie Meyer was going with the fourth book. How did you feel the first time you found out where the story went?
Peter Facinelli: "I didn’t know there was a fourth book and then we realized that they were doing a fourth book. I was just eager to read it, you know? I remember hearing she was working on it and then, for me, I was just eager to read it - just like every other fan."
And your reaction the first time you read it?
Peter Facinelli: "My reaction was when I first read it was that this is going to be a difficult film to make. I thought most of the book took place with Bella on a couch and I was like, 'How are we going to film Bella on a couch for 300 pages?' You know what I mean?"
Exactly...and make it interesting.
Peter Facinelli: "And make it interesting, right. I was kind of nervous. I said, 'How is that going to play?' But I always say Eclipse was my favorite movie to make, aside from Twilight. Twilight was the beginning so I will always have a spot in my heart for that. Eclipse, I just love the fact that Carlisle got to roll up his sleeves and do some action in it, and I enjoyed that. And then I always say that Breaking Dawn was my favorite scripts, just because I felt like because all the other movies we had to compress, you know what I mean? You take these big books and you have to compress, and you end up losing a lot. But with Breaking Dawn, because we were able to make two movies out of it, they were able to enhance things and add stuff that wasn’t in the books that didn’t change the story but just enhanced it."
"I like that because for the audience it’s not like you're watching a page-by-page blow of the book, you’re actually getting some surprises. So, for me, especially when we did Part 2, people will enjoy being surprised with certain scenes."
Each of the films is very different in tone. Is the tone of Part 2 of Breaking Dawn much different than Part 1?
Peter Facinelli: "No, it's not because Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn, all different directors so each director had their stamp on it. Tone-wise, it was a little different; characters changed a little different in look. Breaking Dawn was really shot as one long movie. We didn’t shoot with two different director; we shot both of them with one director and the same director of photography. Everybody looks the same throughout the movies, so it's not going to be a big change-over in tone, aside from maybe the first part of Breaking Dawn is maybe more emotionally charged and the second part has a little more action in it."
Did you agree with the initial decision to go with a two-parter?
Peter Facinelli: "I’ve always agreed with that because, again, I’m not a big fan of whittling down. I feel like you end up loosing a lot. That was a great challenge for Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote the scripts, to basically whittle down the books into a two-hour movie. I think she did a great job with it, but there were scenes that were lost and I missed. With these two parts, because it’s such a big book and there really are two distinct stories to tell - there is the story of Bella getting married and becoming pregnant and then having a baby and almost losing her life, then there’s the story of this baby now being threatened - I was very pleased that they shot it in two movies. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to do that and sometimes it's just motivated by money and stuff like that, but I really felt like this book warranted having two movies."
With the production over and Breaking Dawn ready to come out, are you keeping up with what fan sites are saying or did you ever pay any attention to that?
Peter Facinelli: "When I first signed on, I remember checking the fan blogs just to see people's reactions to the casting. I thought it was funny because some of the people were upset because Mike Dexter was going to play Carlisle. Mike Dexter was a character I played in Can’t Hardly Wait. I was like, 'Mike Dexter’s not playing Carlisle. I am.' I didn’t find it insulting, I found it challenging because if I have engrained that character in their mind so much, then it was my job to create a new character for them to walk away with. So I liked that challenge."
Is there a challenge now of saying, "I'm not Carlisle," when you're going into other projects?
Peter Facinelli: "No, because Carlisle, thankfully, is so different in appearance. If I had looked like I normally do, I would find it more challenging because you do five films and all of a sudden the first thing people think of when they see you is that character. But because I look so different than Carlisle – I mean I look at pictures of Carlisle and I'm like, 'Is that me?’ It's such a distinct character that I don’t feel like when people see me, they automatically think Carlisle. You can watch Nurse Jackie..."
...which I love, by the way.
Peter Facinelli: "Thank you. When you see Coop, there is no way you're thinking Carlisle."
I love that character. Is he just so much fun to play?
Peter Facinelli: "He’s a lot of fun to play. He has so much energy and he has no social boundaries, so the guy can do anything. I could walk into a scene doing the moonwalk and it's like something Coop would do. You know what I mean? Literally there is no parameter of, 'Well, Coop would do this and he wouldn’t do that.' Coop would do anything."
Exactly, whatever came into his mind.
Peter Facinelli: "Whatever comes into his mind at those moments as silly or weird or crazy as it is, you could do. It’s such a freeing character - and fun."
Do you stick to the scripts?
Peter Facinelli: "I do stick to the scripts, but I also add a lot too. They allow me to add a lot, which is nice. I’ll do a few unscripted because the writing is so good, I don’t have to stray. Once in a while I’ll throw things in, and the writers are always on set and they will either like it and say, 'Keep that. We like it.' Or, they don’t. I don’t take offense to it, but I’m always trying with Coop different things. The great thing with Coop, too, is that he’s so physical that even when he’s not talking, he does physical things."
Why did you decide to become a producer and form your own production company? Why take on that responsibility?
Peter Facinelli: "I think acting is tough in the sense that you’re kind of at the disposal of the director, and you're kind of at the disposal of the producers and the film companies. You don’t have a lot of power. I mean, you get these scripts and you either like them or you don’t. You're sitting around reading things that you're like, 'No, I don’t want to do that. I don’t like this.' You're reading all these scripts that I’m not interested in. You're like, 'Why are they making that?' and 'I can’t believe this is getting made.' So I got to a point where I was like, out of frustration, 'Well, what kind of stories do I want to tell?' Then I started writing. So I wrote a couple of scripts and then I was able to get them made. Now I’m at a point where I have a production company where I have four films in development."
"I’m really excited because it puts power in my hands of I’m not asking somebody for a job, I’m in a power of giving jobs to people. If you take for example Loosies, which I wrote, produced and starred in, I was able to get a director that I liked and that I thought I would want to work with. Then I was able to hire a cast like Michael Madsen, who I’m a fan of, and Vincent Gallo, who I’m a fan of, and Joey Pantoliano...Jaimie Alexander from Thor, and I’m giving these people work that I want to work with, that I'm fans of. Then I’m able to see the movie all the way through so that I’m there at the beginning of it, I'm there while shooting it, and then I’m there in post-production making sure it turns out the way I kind of want it to go."
"As an actor, if you’re just an actor you just kind of come in, do your role, and move on. Again, you give up a lot of control over to the other people. Sometimes the movie comes together and it's great, and sometimes the movie comes together and it's not; you really don’t have any control over that. I like having the control over being able to see the project all the way through. I like coming up with an idea and then putting that idea down on paper and either giving it over to somebody to write, which is creating another job for another writer, or writing it myself and hiring a director - which is creating a job for that person. And then being able to take more control over my career, you know?"
"I’m not saying that I only want to do projects that run through my production company, but I don’t like waiting around. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack sometimes. Stuff that comes your way and you're like, 'I’ve seen this movie a hundred times. Why are they making this?' It gets frustrating at times. I really enjoy having the power of being able to take an idea, put it all together, and then give it all over to the public."
* * * * * *Additional Breaking Dawn Part 1 Interviews: Robert Pattinson / Kristen Stewart / Taylor Lautner / The Cullens / Jackson Rathbone / Stephenie Meyer / Bill Condon