PETER FACINELLI TALKS FAME, FAMILY, FASHION + 'ON FIRE'!
EDITOR IN CHIEF: COREY GUEVARRA
PHOTOGRAPHY: BEN COPE
STYLING: APUJE KALU FOR CELESTINE AGENCY
GROOMING: MIRA CHAI HYDE FOR THE WALLGROUP
As a multi-hyphenate creative, Peter Facinelli is no stranger to wearing multiple hats! With an uber impressive career spawning decades of hits, we’ve seen him as everything from a doting doctor, saddle riding sheriff & of course an imperial immortal. Grabbing his destiny by the horns he’s positioned himself in a way few actors find the acumen to. Marrying an understanding of business & creativity has equaled a freedom in his artistry to tell stories from almost any realm of his imagination. Producing, writing, directing, authoring & other (very surprising) hobbies are no easy feat, yet Facinelli orchestrates them all with an awe inspiring ease. Days before his newest debut, a theatrical thriller, ‘On Fire’ we found the star sincerely excited to share more of his journey-story with us! Chatting everything from his sense of self, quarantine haute couture &... hypnotherapy? -This is the poised & ever-present Peter Facinelli!
PETER, WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY? WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE GROWING UP?
I grew up in QUEENS, NY. My parents were immigrants from Italy, and both migrated to America when they were in their late teens. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood populated by both Italian immigrants and Hispanic immigrants. My best friends were Cuban. I found both cultures to be very similar, with a love for family, food, and culture. I grew up in a loving family with three older sisters, my Mom, my Dad, and my Grandmother (Nonna) who did not speak English. My Dad was a hard worker. He left for work at 9am in the morning and came home at 2am having two jobs waiting tables in restaurants in NYC to put food on our table, take care of his family, and put all of his kids through school, including college. The two things my parents spared no expense was good food (my Mom cooked every meal), and a good education. Because my Dad worked such long hours I really only saw him on Sundays. Sunday was a time for family and rest. His hard work ethic rubbed off on me. I got my first job when I was twelve years old delivering newspapers. I had to wake up at 5am every morning to wrap the newspapers in rubber bands, put them in baskets on my bike, and deliver them. I had 100 customers, and it took a good hour to deliver all the newspapers that were spread out all over the neighborhood through 8-10 blocks. I'd be home by 6:30 am, then eat breakfast and get ready for school. I delivered papers rain, snow, or shine, 7 days a week. There were no days off. 365 days a year. And on weekdays I'd collect the paper route money on foot two days a week after school. I delivered newspapers from age 12 to age 15, then I got a job working in a grocery store between age 15 and age 18. I worked every day after school and weekends stocking shelves and working in the produce department. My Dad used to say, "Hard work never killed anyone. Stress kills people. So enjoy whatever you do, and you never work a day in your life." Even in these jobs at a young age I tried to find joy in the work. How? Through use of my imagination. While delivering newspapers I'd pretend I was in a spaceship delivering papers to other ships and planets. While stocking shelves it was my mission to build the perfect wall of soup cans. My imagination served me well and got me through tedious work with joy instead of stress. I guess my imagination continues to serve me in what I do now. It’s such a beautiful gift, the imagination. I think far too often we stop using our imaginations too soon. We're told to put it down. To grow up. To become an adult, but some of the most influential and famous adult's key to success were due to their wonderful use of their imaginations.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER ACTING AS YOUR PATH?
I guess if you count all the times I used my imagination, acting has always been a part of me. But as far as me getting up in front of an audience and acting, that didn't happen until college. I loved using my imagination, but I was a very shy kid. So shy that once when I was required in second grade to be in a play, I told my Mom I was sick to get out of it. I couldn't bear the thought of getting up in front of people. I was not comfortable doing that. I was not a "look at me" theater type kid. I never did a play till college.
When I was 12 I saw a film called 'Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid' on TV starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford and I thought, "WOW! those guys look like they are having fun", and that was the first time I contemplated acting as a career. But being a first generation American with immigrant parents, and not knowing anyone in the industry it was a far-off dream. In college I was studying to be a lawyer. I took an acting class as an elective, and I fell in love with it. I felt completely free when I played a character. I was no longer shy in character. I could do anything. It was like no one saw me; they saw the character. and that gave me the permission to be free. I met an acting teacher and I took his classes outside of school and he believed in me. He helped me transfer into NYU to study theater there. He told me if I wanted to be an actor I should learn the craft properly, and so I dedicated myself to learning it. When my parents asked me why I was transferring I was embarrassed to tell them I wanted to pursue acting. I told them acting classes were helpful for me to be a good lawyer since I was so shy. They bought it. ;) After studying at NYU for three years with The Atlantic Theater Company I booked my first role. It was a few scenes in an Independent film called ANGELA written and directed by Rebecca Miller, Arthur Miller’s incredibly talented daughter. I played LUCIFER, a fallen angel. The film got into SUNDANCE in 1995. A few years later, while my Dad was waiting tables at a restaurant in NYC, Arthur Miller came in, and my dad was proud to tell Mr. Miller I was in his daughter's film. My dad brought me home a menu with Arthur Miller's autograph and a note from him that said, "You were very good in my daughter's film". I still have it framed. It is a beautiful collision of worlds. My Dad, an Immigrant waiter, gets an autograph from Arthur Miller, who praises his son, being in his daughter's film.
TELL US ALL ABOUT YOUR NEW FILM “ON FIRE” PETER?
ON FIRE is an action-packed suspenseful family survival drama that follows one family's journey as they work together to survive a wildfire. It is a film inspired by true events that gives celebration to the heroism of firefighters and first responders while leaving off on a message of hope and rebirth. It is a film meant to give pause to an audience in hopes that we can come together to solve an issue that is happening far too often, and affecting people globally.
WE HEARD THAT YOU REALLY DISCOVERED YOUR AFFINITY FOR FASHION DURING THE 2020 LOCK DOWNS? TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEWER FOUND PASSION FOR FASHION?
2020 had me rethink clothes. I had a closet full of clothes I rarely wore, leaning more on simpler, comfortable wear, like sweatpants, while longing for and having more of an appreciation for opportunities to "dress up". I think I missed that most during lockdown - putting on a suit. There was a moment in lockdown that I ended up putting on a tuxedo jacket just to feel something different!
YOU CONTINUE TO HAVE SUCH A GREAT STANDING CAREER, IF YOU COULD, WOULD YOU CHANGE ANYTHING AT ALL FROM YOUR ENTIRE JOURNEY?
No. I believe in a purpose to everything, and I know I am right where I am supposed to be. I also feel that as appreciative as I am of the last 30 years of films and television I've been in, I feel that my best work is ahead of me and that gives me something to strive for.
IS THERE STILL A DREAM ROLE OF YOURS YOU’VE YET TO PLAY PETER?
Yes. Of course. But I won't know what that is until I read it, or maybe write it one day. If I knew what it was I would have written it already! I trust the timing of my life.
WE ALL KNOW YOU PRIMARILY AS AN ON-SCREEN ACTOR PETER, ARE THERE ANY HIDDEN TALENTS OR HOBBIES THAT FANS WOULD BE SURPRISED BY?
I can act like I can do a lot of things, but I think fans would be mostly surprised at just how untalented I am in real life.. lol
I dabble in guitar and piano but I’m not great. I play racquetball with friends, but I wouldn't join any leagues anytime soon. I know a little Spanish and little Italian, but not enough of either to get by. I was on the JV bowling team in High School but didn't make Varsity. I think I probably should stick to acting. In that world my character can be as talented as the scripts and stories allow him to be.
Maybe one thing people may or may not know about me, is that I am fascinated with the workings of the mind. During lockdown I became a certified hypnotherapist. Mostly to explore hypnotherapy and the mind for myself. But I have been able to help friends and family. So I guess I did find a hidden talent.
HOW DO YOU EMBRACE BEING KNOWN FOR SPECIFIC ROLES & HOW ARE ABLE TO BALANCE THEM AS ‘PETER’?
I think I've done a variety of roles that it’s difficult to pigeonhole me to any one type. If anything that made it harder. Hollywood likes to type cast people and often cast them over and over in the same type of role. I don't think there's a specific type of role that I'm particularly known to do, and I tend to gravitate towards roles I haven't played before. As far as balancing them as "Peter", I honestly don't know who that is either. Peter is a lot of different things to different people-father/brother/son/actor/husband/ex-husband/best friend/guy-who-cut-me-off or guy-who-got-cut-off on the freeway/etc.- and I find I'm always searching for different aspects of myself through roles as well. I find that taking on different roles allows me to explore different parts of me. In some ways I'm more comfortable the further the character is from me.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO LAUNCH YOUR PRODUCTION COMPANY A7SLE FILMS?
I wanted to be more proactive in telling stories, and not just be a part of telling someone else's stories. Through my production company I've co- written a novel with Little Brown Books, created a comic book with Boom Comics, produced films based on IPs I've found, written scripts and had them produced based on original stories, and I've directed films. As an actor in film and television you don't have much control. You give your performance over to the director and hope for the best. Through my production company I have been able to create stories and have more control over them.
YOU ALSO CO-DIRECTED ‘ON FIRE’ & HAVE WRITTEN & PRODUCED EXTENSIVELY THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER. HOW IS IT FOR YOU WEARING NUMEROUS HATS ON SET & IS THERE ONE DUTY THAT YOU PREFER OVER ANY OTHER?
I quite enjoyed co-directing this film. Again, it allowed for some control over the say of the story, how that story was told, the shaping of the performances, and the final edit. This film would have been very different if I just came in, gave my performance, and left. I try to step in where I feel I am most needed to help the story, and all of the titles- acting/directing/writing/producing are all just different forms of storytelling. So it all really falls under that goal - telling the best story. I don't know if I have one preference over another, but by producing and directing it allows me to have more of a say over the overall story. There are films that I am quite content to just come in and lend my service as an actor and walk away. But If I am asked to step into service as any of the other storytelling art forms -writing, producing, or directing, I'm happy to service that as well, if needed. For ON FIRE, our director Nick Lyon got Covid, and we were too far into the film to stop so he passed the baton to me and I finished the film. Our collaboration then spilled into the editing and post production, and we worked to carve out the final film. We were very proud of that collaboration and decided to celebrate it with a co-director title.
PETER, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 26-YEAR-OLD SELF & WHERE WOULD YOU IDEALLY LIKE TO BE, 26 YEARS FROM NOW?
I still feel 26 inside, and I have no idea what an additional 26 years would look like on me, but I bet I still feel 26 at heart 26 years from now... lol! So I'm not sure what advice I would give myself or where I’d like to be. Life has a tendency to just keep going when you stay in the moment. Eventually you'll get to where you are supposed to be. I'm a believer that you're always where you're supposed to be. It's more important for me to figure out the lessons I’m supposed to learn along the way than where I'm going. I know I'll get where I'm supposed to be. I don't think I could have planned the life or career I have but whatever life brings me in the next 26 years, I will try to live by the motto that life happens for me. Not to mean that whatever comes to me is necessary to get me to where I am supposed to be.
FINALLY PETER, OUR STAPLE QUESTION! OUR FAVORITE, AS WE’VE HEARD EVERYTHING FROM ‘LAVISH VACATIONS’ TO ‘LOVE’ AS THE ANSWER. FROM ‘STATES OF MIND’ TO ‘STORES OF EXPENSIVE THINGS’. PETER FACINELLI, WHAT’S YOUR DEFINITION OF LUXURY?
The definition of "luxury" to me is being pampered, being taken care of, and being relaxed. So when I think of something luxurious it gives me a relaxed feeling, where I'm being taken care of and pampered. It's an energy and a feeling for me, and just thinking of that feeling makes me smile. :)