Reserved: Nice to meet you in the [virtual] flesh after seeing you so much on the screen. How has your pandemic been?
Peter: It feels like it has been forever. But yeah, hopefully it’s coming to an end soon. We keep having these resurgences, so we’ll see.
Reserved: What are you working on at the moment?
Peter: I’m going to shoot a film in the UK. I play a U.S. Soldier in the 1920s in WWI. It’s kind of a romance movie. And then I have a film called The Unbreakable Boy coming out this year that I produced and acted in alongside Zach Levi. And I have another film I just wrapped called On Fire that’s in post-production where I play a man whose family is trapped in a forest fire.
There’s also a project that I’m attached to direct for Voltage Pictures…and a myriad of other things that are up in the air that I’m trying to get off the ground here and there. Scripts that I’ve written. Scripts that I want to direct. Things like that.
Reserved: Why did you decide to move into directing?
Peter: I’ve always been interested in directing. It’s not easy to get into and not easy to get somebody to trust you with their money to be in control of a project like that. But I’ve done it twice now and it’s been going well. I love the process of collaborating with actors and the camera crew and all the different departments. Being a director, it’s the ultimate form of storytelling. Because every decision is yours. When you’re in the editing room you’re deciding what pieces to use, how to shape the performances. You’re the one that’s bringing the whole project to life. So, it’s a lot of responsibility. It’s a lot of work. But in a lot of ways it’s very rewarding once you’re finished and you get to hand it over to an audience. I don’t think I’ll ever quit acting. I enjoy it, but I think I see myself directing more in the future too as well.
Reserved: Do you see yourself acting in the projects you direct, or just directing?
Peter: For me it’s whatever is the best way to tell the story. There’s a role for The Unbreakable Boy, for example, that didn’t feel quite right for me as the lead character, so we hired Zach Levi to play the lead. So it’s not like I’m getting projects to facilitate me as an actor, it’s whatever works best to tell that story. And it’s the same way with directing for me. I’m just interested in getting good stories out there. With The Unbreakable Boy, I didn’t necessarily feel like I would be the best director for that project. So, John Gunn directed that one. It’s not like I need to direct or act in every project that I produce or write. It’s more about facilitating what’s best for the story.
Reserved: Where do the stories come from? What draws you? Where do you get your inspiration?
Peter: I wish I knew. I mean inspiration just comes, right? For example, the movie I did called The Vanished. I was on a road trip in an RV and we parked one day at an RV park and I just started to imagine what would happen if my daughter went missing, and who would help me. It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack out in these beautiful woods, and this vacation would turn into a nightmare scenario. And then your mind starts imagining things and then you write it down and it became the movie that I wrote and directed.
So, I don’t know if there is some sort of place to go for inspiration. It just kind of comes and that’s why I have a myriad of projects.
Reserved: Is there a story behind The Unbreakable Boy?
Peter: It felt like the universe was kind of steering that ship. I’ll tell you where that movie came from.
My brother-in-law owns a pharmacy in New York and a guy came in. His name is Scott LeRette and he was talking to my brother-in-law and he said that he had written a book about his family. He had no idea who I was or that my brother-in-law knew me. And my brother-in-law said, ‘Oh, what do you want to do with the book?’ And he said, ‘One day I’d like to turn it into a movie.’ He and my brother-in-law said, ‘Well, Peter Facinelli is my brother-in-law and he’s in the business. Maybe he could help you.’ And so my brother-in-law called me and he said, ‘Hey, this guy came and he wrote a book. You should read it.’ I think I kind of took it with a grain of salt – people give me stuff all the time – so I didn’t really think much of it.
Then he called me later and said, ‘Hey, that guy with the book is coming to LA and I told him you’d sit down with him for lunch.’ And I was like, ‘Oh Jesus, so now I have to read the book.’ So I read it and I thought, ‘This is actually a good story.’ So I sat down with him at lunch, and then for a year I just was steering him in the right direction trying to give him advice. I wasn’t interested in bringing it on. I just thought, ‘Let me give this guy some advice here and there to help him.’ Then after a year of knowing him and his family, I said, ‘Why don’t I come in as a producer officially and we’ll see if we can get the movie made.’
So, somehow the universe was kind of steering that one. I’m really proud of that film. It’s a beautiful, inspirational feel-good movie, which I feel like the world needs right now to heal from what we’ve been through during this pandemic.
Reserved: Do you know when The Unbreakable Boy is set to be released?
Peter: They just pushed it because of COVID, but I think it might be some point later this year. They really believe in the film so they decided to open it up at a time when people feel a little safer going to the theater.
Reserved: That makes sense. Speaking of the pandemic, what is your work schedule like these days? Are you spending a lot of time at home, or have you been traveling for work?
Peter: I was in Texas filming On Fire which wrapped in November, then I went to Paris to do an autograph signing. It’s always nice to engage with the fans and I got to see Paris a little bit. Then next month I go to England for 6 weeks to shoot a film. So yeah, traveling definitely is a part of everything. I appreciate when I get to travel nowadays because we were in lockdown for so long. But it’s also nice to be home too.
Reserved: Do you mind if we shift gears a bit, back in time to the Twilight days?
Reserved: Do you remember how it felt when you first landed your role in Twilight? Did you know how big that film was going to be?
Peter: Honestly, you never know. Originally, they asked me if I wanted to do a vampire movie and my agents and I said no. At that point there was a lot of vampire movies being made and I just didn’t know what it was. And then they said, ‘Well, it’s based on this book that has a small following,’ because at the time the book hadn’t exploded yet. So, I read the book and really liked it. And then they said Catherine Hardwicke was directing and I was a fan of her work.
So, a lot of times you look at projects and it’s so hard to tell on the page if it’s going to be good. But I did like the book and I liked the director.
So, I went in and I read for her and they actually went to a different actor, and a different actor got it. The actor they went to was a little older because they thought I looked too young, even though in the books the character is supposed to be 23. But they thought on screen it would look odd if I looked too young next to them.
So, they went with someone who was a little older, but then he became unavailable, and they came back to me. At that point I was stoked to do it, because I thought that I hadn’t gotten the part and then I did.
Most of the casts at that point were unknowns. Nikki Reed had done a little bit of work. But most of them hadn’t done that much. So, I was just excited to be part of a cool script and a cool movie, but I don’t think any of us thought it was going to be the massive explosive film that it became.
Reserved: Do you have any advice for upcoming actors or filmmakers who have big dreams that sometimes seem impossible achieve?
Peter: I mean, listen. It’s always impossible. A lot of people will tell you, ‘That’s not realistic.’ But everything we’re doing is unrealistic. It’s the movie business, right? So, you just have to stay steadfast with your dreams and your goals, and the only way you fail is if you give up, honestly. Sometimes it takes longer than you think. I’ve had projects that I’ve done that took 10 years to make, like a movie that I wrote called Loosies. It’s all timing. But I also didn’t give up on that project.
I remember the first script I wrote…I was like 23 and I wrote this script and my agents actually laughed at me because it wasn’t very good. And I was just like, ‘Well, okay…’ and I just kept working on that script every once in a while. I’d pull it out of the drawer. And then maybe like 5 or 6 years later I sold it to the Hallmark Channel and it was the first thing I had written and sold.
A lot of people tell you, ‘you can’t’. A lot of people laugh at you. A lot of people tell you it’s impossible. But you have to have tenacity and just keep moving forward.
It doesn’t get easier. Even where I’m at now it never gets easier. It’s always an uphill battle. So you just have to enjoy the journey. There’s no point in anyone’s Hollywood career where everyone starts saying, ‘Yes!!!’ and you get everything that you want all the time. It’s always a fight, and if it’s not a fight then it’s too easy and you’re not setting the bar high enough.
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