He can certainly act, but he’s no one-hit wonder, he’s an ‘All-Rounder’. He can write, he’s a budding filmmaker and he’s a doting father. You may know him as Dr. Coop on the TV show Nurse Jackie, or Dr. Carlisle Cullen, the ‘father’ of the Cullen clan in the Twilight film franchise, but here is a side of 37-year-old New Yorker Peter Facinelli that you may not have seen: fashionable. By Refa Koetin and Salli Paradisio
Peter Facinelli was born in a working-class neighborhood of New York—Ozone Park, Queens—which is the former home of legendary writer Jack Kerouac and the birthplace of the likes of pop singer Cyndi Lauper and mafia don John Gotti.
Facinelli is a first-generation Italian-American, who first got into acting in school, later studying drama full time at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School under the tutelage of top-shelf actors William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman. Facinelli began his professional acting career at the age of 22 in a film called Angela.
A year later, he co-starred with Jennie Garth in An Unfinished Affair and, as fate would have it, Jennie and Peter got married and now have three daughters. Facinelli’s big break came in the TV drama Fastlane (2002-2003), in which he played the lead role of Van Ray.
Next up was accolades for the TV show Six Feet Under, and indie film Arc before being cast as Dr. Carlisle Cullen for the first Twilight film in 2008. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind for Facinelli, but he stays grounded with the help of his four girls at home.
DA MAN: We’ve read that you attended a theater school and had the likes of William H. Macy as a teacher? That must’ve been amazing. What was that like?
Peter Facinelli: William H. Macy was a guest lecturer and brought along Felicity Huffman when he would do lectures. As a young actor you’re looking to these people who have done prestigious work and it was very inspirational.
DA MAN: How much has your life changed after starring in the Twilight franchise?
Peter Facinelli: My life hasn’t changed much, just gotten a lot busier!
DA MAN: There have been vampire and werewolf stories for decades (even centuries) in literature and TV and films, but none has been as wildly popular as Twilight. As an insider to the whole thing, have you ever tried to analyze why there is such incredible popularity with Twilight?
Peter Facinelli: Not really, I’m just ecstatic that the fans have embraced the series as much as they have. I was a fan of the book series as well. When I read the first book, Twilight, it was this Romeo and Juliet story with a vampire backdrop. The vampire world is secondary to the emotional core of the story.
DA MAN: Before you began your own journey with, had you read Stephenie Meyer’s books?
Peter Facinelli: I hadn’t read Twilight until I was up for the role. I read the book right before I went in to meet with [Director] Catherine Hardwicke and audition for the part.
DA MAN: What has been the craziest or most challenging scene for you and why?
Peter Facinelli: The most challenging scene was the stitching scene in New Moon because I had to learn how to stitch someone up and really had to do the stitches. The day we were shooting the scene, I realized I had to wear my [colored] contact lenses and I couldn’t see. It is very difficult to stitch with limited vision.
DA MAN: As an established writer yourself, when did you realize that you enjoyed writing scripts and your own stories?
Peter Facinelli: Probably in my mid-twenties. I was reading a lot of scripts that were getting made that I wasn’t really passionate about. I thought if these were getting made, maybe I could tell a story that I was passionate about and I started writing scripts more out of frustration.
DA MAN: Given your hectic schedule now with Twilight-related activities and the TV show Nurse Jackie, how do you find the time to write?
Peter Facinelli: I write a lot at night, I feel like my creative process works really well at night. After a long day, I’ll be in bed and I’ll just start typing until my fingers get tired. During the day, I’m thinking about what I’m going to write. A lot of my creative energy is stored throughout the day and then basically comes out and writes itself.
DA MAN: Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects as a writer/producer?
Peter Facinelli: I have a film called Loosies that will be in theaters in January. We did a pre-theatrical release on Video On Demand starting November 9. The film stars Jamie Alexander as my love interest, Vincent Gallo, Michael Madsen and Joe Pantoliano.
DA MAN: Aside from portraying the mature and sensible Dr. Carlisle Cullen, you are also in TV’s Nurse Jackie as the socially aloof Dr. Fitch Cooper. Do you find it hard to switch between the two totally different characters?
Peter Facinelli: No, I find it really fun to be able to switch gears. The past three Twilight films I’ve shot simultaneously with Nurse Jackie. It was really fun for me to be on one set doing one character and then getting on a plane three or four days later and doing another. It’s exciting for me to switch back and forth between them.
DA MAN: Have you ever had one character’s personality rub off on the other from one project to the next?
Peter Facinelli: No, because all of the characters that I’ve played have been so distinctly different that they really don’t affect one another.
DA MAN: Out of the whole Twilight franchise, which movie is your favorite and why?
Peter Facinelli: Well it’s a little hard to say, but I like Eclipse because I got to do a lot of action stunts. I will hold my judgment until after I see [the next] Breaking Dawn.
LEFT: Shirt and blazer by Giorgio Armani, pants by Brooks Brothers, belt by J. Press, scarf by Dunhill, cuff links by Bulgari, watch by A|X Armani Exchange RIGHT: Shirt by A|X Armani Exchange, blazer and pants by Prada, belt by J. Press, tie by Brooks Brothers, pocket square by Giorgio Armani
DA MAN: Do you have a personal role model or someone you look up to as an actor?
Peter Facinelli: I was always a huge fan of Paul Newman and Robert Redford growing up. They inspired me to become an actor. I’m also a fan of Sean Penn and Johnny Depp. I like the way Johnny Depp switches his gears and embodies different characters so well and that’s what I try to do.
DA MAN: From all your years of acting, what would you say has been your favorite role and why?
Peter Facinelli: It’s hard for me to pick a favorite role because I’ve always been passionate about the roles I play while I’m playing them. I’ve always been enthusiastic on the ride to work because the characters I get to portray are so exciting. Picking a favorite character is like asking me to pick which of my kids is my favorite.
DA MAN: How do you measure success? Is it more fans, more headlines, more money, more respect from peers, family, friends? Or something completely different?
Peter Facinelli: Whether a project is high-profile or not is beyond my control, and whether or not a project has fans is beyond my control. Success, to me, is longevity and respect from peers is always a plus.
DA MAN: Were you a film buff as a youngster?
Peter Facinelli: I wasn’t a huge film buff, but there are definitely movies that inspire me. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is the reason I started acting. I saw it and I thought ‘those two guys are having fun, I want to do that.’
DA MAN: What has been your least favorite thing about working in show business? Or something you regret?
Peter Facinelli: I’m not a big fan of the paparazzi. I think there’s a time and place for pictures to be taken. When people jump out of the bushes and try to take pictures of you in places when you’re not trying to promote a project, I find it very invasive. I still don’t understand why people want to see pictures of me getting off an airplane.
DA MAN: What has been your favorite thing about working in show business?
Peter Facinelli: I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I love and to be able to get a paycheck for it.
Photographs: Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling: Michael Fisher