The Evolution Of Peter Facinelli: How The Next Phase Of His Career + Finding Love Again Have Made Him “Happier Than Ever”

Peter FacinelliPhoto Credit: Storm Santos

“Even with the pandemic slowing everything down, I feel more alive today, more connected, happier, and so excited for the next chapter of my life and career.”

Photography: Storm Santos

Styling: Franzy Staedter

Grooming: Angie Mikaelian for Exclusive Artists Management

It’s a tough world we’re living in, but Peter Facinelli is loving life. He’s newly engaged to actress Lily Anne Harrison, has his second directorial feature, “The Vanished”, coming out August 21st (the dark, twisty drama that he also wrote and stars in alongside Anne Heche, Thomas Jane and Jason Patric chronicles a child that mysteriously goes missing.); as well as two additional features, “The Ravine” (opposite Eric Dane and Teri Polo) and “13 Minutes” (opposite Thora Birch, Trace Adkins and Heche again). He has also successfully ventured into the fashion world with Tank Farm, a men’s clothing company that is favored by the likes of Chris Hemsworth and Colin Hanks, among others. Here, we talk to Facinelli about his multi-faceted career, how love has changed his life and why he has absolutely no regrets about putting his career on pause for his kids.

Peter FacinelliPhoto Credit: Storm Santos

Let’s talk about how you’re faring in this Covid world. How has your life changed in the past few months? Has this timeframe made you reflect on what you’d like to change in your life, if anything.

This year has been a year of reflection for me. I love traveling, and my job, so it’s been difficult to stay still. But since I’m not able to travel outward, I have journeyed inward. The pandemic has forced me to slow down, and has allowed me to reflect on my life, and where I want to go next. I started meditating more. I sign myself up for classes, to learn new perspectives. I am trying to focus on being more conscious of things, including my health. I’ve been eating well, and exercising; I lost thirty pounds in the last five months. I didn’t consider myself overweight before, but I do feel healthier, leaner, fitter, and better about my health overall. I’ve spent more time reading, and working on myself, including my mind. I have always been fascinated with hypnosis, and how to tap into the subconscious mind, so I took a course on it, and am now a certified hypnotherapist. Not that I have any plans, on changing careers, but I wanted to learn more about it, and finally had the time. I’ve spent more time playing my guitar, as well as reading. I remember reading somewhere, if you come out of this Pandemic, and haven’t done anything you never lacked time — you lacked discipline. It hasn’t been easy. There are days where I have felt completely depressed at not being able to see friends, or hug people I love, or make movies. On those days I try to not judge myself, and I take it easy. But if you allow yourself too many of those days that becomes your routine. So, it’s important not to get stuck.

How has the coronavirus specifically affected both you personally and your projects? Has the quarantine given you clarity into what specific types of projects you’d like to do moving forward?

The industry pretty much came to a standstill due to the pandemic, and no filming was able to be done safely. I had several films lined up to act in that have all been pushed because of the coronavirus. So, I have spent the last several months focusing on personal projects, and planting seeds for when the pandemic ends. I have found some great partners to team up with and now have several projects in development that I am excited to put into production next year. I have a book that I optioned called “The Unbreakable Boy” that I found a great partner on, which is in development now. I am Producing that project and very excited to bring it to the big screen. I also have a film called “El Chico Blanco,” I had written prior that I now have some great producers on, which I plan to direct next year–as well as several other projects I now have in development. This year has become all about planting seeds.. I feel thankful I have had this time to work on these personal projects, and look forward to bring these projects to the screen.

You recently got engaged–congratulations! Has finding love given you a new perspective on life? In what way, if so?

Thank you. My fiancé, Lily Anne Harrison, is such an incredible woman, and we fit like together like two perfect puzzle pieces. I’ve honestly never been so in love, and I’m happier than I have ever been in a relationship. She is everything I could ever have hoped for or imagined, and more. She is smart, talented, funny, beautiful (inside and out), strong, and my kids love her too… I’m blown away every day by her and I feel so lucky that she is my partner in life. Quarantining with her has been like an extended honeymoon. I’m very grateful.

Peter FacinelliPhoto Credit: Storm Santos

This year, you’re not only appearing in films, but you’ve directed your second, “The Vanished”. How have you grown as a filmmaker since “Breaking & Exiting”? The film is quite dark. What made you gravitate towards this type of content? Is there comedy in your future or would you like to stay in this genre for a while?

I was very proud of “Breaking and Exiting.” I think the cast did a fantastic job, and it was a really fun romantic dramedy, written by Jordan Hinson, who also played the lead. It was Milo Gibson’s first leading role, and I am so excited to now watch him in other films. He just starred in Rod Lurie‘s film, “The Outpost,” which was so good, and he was great in it. Having acted for 25 years, I love working with actors. I understand the vulnerability it takes to give a performance. I’m also passionate about telling stories. So, directing is definitely something I’d like to do more of, although I don’t think I’d ever completely give up acting.

“The Vanished,” is a completely different film. Much darker. I have always loved Hitchcock films, so I wanted to make something in that space of a suspense thriller genre. I wrote the script to “The Vanished,” so it’s very personal to me. I also had a bigger budget on this film, so it felt like I had more tools to make it. I think that no matter what the budget, I feel like it’s my job to tell an entertaining story and take an audience on an emotional ride. If I’ve done that than I’ve done my job. I’m excited to give the film over to an audience on August 21. The film has a lot of twists and turns, and I hope they walk away going through an emotional journey and have a fun time watching it. Since it’s kind of a “whodunnit,” as in who took the child that went missing, I think it will be fun for an audience to try to figure it out.

Fans are used to seeing you in fairly serious roles. What would they be the most surprised to learn about you?

Actually, I’ve done a lot of different genres as an actor. Including comedy (“Nurse Jackie”/”Can’t Hardly Wait”/”The F*ckitList”) drama (including the upcoming films “The Ravine” and “13 Minutes”), action (“Gangsterland”, “Swat”) action/comedy (“FASTLANE”), Sci-Fi (“Supernova”), fantasy (“Supergirl”/”Twilight”/”Scorpion King”), horror (“Countdown”) and romantic comedy (“Loosies,” which I also wrote). I take pride in bringing diverse performances to the screen, I try to vary the roles I play. I think someone who sees me in one thing would be surprised to see a different performance, in a completely different genre. Often, I meet fans who are surprised to find out I was in something else that they have seen, and they didn’t realize it was me, or found the role unexpected. Some didn’t know that Carlisle Cullen, also played, Mike Dexter, or that the same actor was also Dr Coop in “Nurse Jackie,” for example. As a film maker, I hope to mirror that in films I write, or direct. I don’t want to tell the same type of stories over and over, the same way I never really wanted to give the same type of performance over and over as an actor. I think people who have seen “Breaking and Exiting,” will find it surprising the same director made “The Vanished.” Once I have nothing left to surprise people with, I think it will be time to retire. Lol.

Peter FacinelliPhoto Credit: Storm Santos

“Twilight” was obviously such an industry behemoth that it has a way of attaching itself to all of its stars. Was shooting the films the best of times, or a time that has come and gone and needs to be packed away?

I had the best time working on “Twilight,” and have no regrets. I felt fortunate because I look so different in that film, I haven’t gotten too “attached” as Carlisle Cullen, so I don’t feel like it’s something I have to pack away or hide from to reinvent myself. Now it’s just become part of my resume; a part of a library of films that I have been a part of over the past 25 years. I am grateful it had such a worldwide reach, and so many people enjoyed it, and it broadened my fan base. I also feel fortunate to have been working for about 15 years prior to filming “Twilight,” so I never felt stuck or typecast. Plus, because I’ve done so many different roles, and worked hard not to be typecast, it never felt like something I had to shake off. I remember reading some fan reactions when I got cast in “Twilight,” where one person wrote, “I can’t believe Mike Dexter is going to play Carlisle Cullen… so ridiculous”. That person had a very specific image of me from “Can’t Hardly Wait.” I saw that response as a challenge, and I find that challenge within all the characters I play. I literally read a message today from a fan on Instagram, who said they watched “Countdown,” (where I play a doctor who tries to force himself on a nurse, and is very full of himself.) and went on to say that even though they loved me as Carlisle Cullen, they hated my character in “Countdown,” but that they still like me as an actor.” I wrote back, and said that if I was able to affect them that way than I had done my job well, and thanked them for that review.

You sacrificed some big movie roles after “Twilight” to be a dad and actively take part in raising your kids. Can you speak to that?

Making movies can be hard on a family, especially when you have to travel to different locations all the time. There was a time when I was filming “Twilight,” and “Nurse Jackie,” at the same time traveling from New York, to Canada, to Los Angeles for seven years straight. After wrapping both of those I went on to do the lead role on “American Odyssey,” for NBC in New York, which took me away from my family for another year. As much as I loved every minute working and felt so passionate about all of those jobs and thankful to be working so much, a part of me felt I needed a break, and that my kids needed more time with me. So, I purposely slowed down, and took jobs that filmed in Los Angeles only, which can be limiting, but still managed to do some fun projects like “Supergirl,” and “Swat.” I was grateful for that time, and I also was able to write more, and focus on directing as well, with “Breaking and Exiting,” which was filmed in Los Angeles. I don’t regret it. It recharged me, and allowed me to be creative in other ways– as well as spend more time with my daughters. I realized that life moves pretty quickly, and I didn’t want to turn around and have missed out on raising them. My youngest is turning 14 now, and my middle daughter is going to college next year, so I feel ready to dive back in and take my career to the next chapter. I’m looking forward to this pandemic ending and getting “back in the ring.” I feel like I have really only just begun to tap into what I have to offer.

Do you have any parenting hacks? What is the most important lesson you’re teaching your kids?

There is no one size fits all technique. Every kid is different and unfortunately there is no instruction manual. But I feel like my jobs their dad is to teach my kids how to be autonomous adults, and to be able to take care of themselves as an adult. The best thing my parents ever did for me was to honestly let me be; to let me figure things out on my own, to let me fall, to make my own decisions, and sometimes, make mistakes. But they were always there for me when I needed them and asked for help. They always provided for me the essentials: food, love, a home, and an education. There is fine balance between over parenting and under parenting and only experience teaches you when to step in, and when to sit back. Oftentimes sitting back is more powerful. It allows children to find themselves, figure things out on their own, and become strong. If parents never let kids fall, they would never walk. If they stood by them and protected every step, they would not learn to run. I definitely started out parenting that way. I wanted my kids to have everything, and never be hurt, and never fall, and never go without. But I have learned over the years that it’s not really the best thing you can do for you children. As they got older, or maybe as I got older, I have let go more…Trusted that they have the tools to make the right decisions, and that protecting them too much doesn’t allow them to grow.

Peter FacinelliPhoto Credit: Storm Santos

What tips or advice do you have for co-parenting for others who have “consciously uncoupled?”

I am a firm believer that if the parents are okay than the kids will be okay. The kids only suffer when mom and dad make their problems their children’s problems.

We touched upon film projects, but you’re also getting into fashion. What made you decide to partner with Tank Farm and where can people go to purchase?

I really wasn’t looking to get into fashion, per se. I do have interest in it, but it was an opportunity that came my way, and I was really excited by Tank Farm and their line of clothes. It’s a cool line I would wear. So, when they asked me to design something with them, I felt like it was the right fit, pardon the pun. I love vintage T-shirts, and they have an awesome line of them, as well as jeans that are new, but have a cool, vintage motorcycle vibe. I have two motorcycles, so I am stoked to design some awesome T-shirts and bandanas with them. We are just starting to design it now, and I’m thrilled to be a part of their line. I didn’t think it was possible to replicate that washed vintage T-shirt feel, as most new T-shirts are stiff, and you have to wash them a hundred times before they soften and take the shape of your body. Tank Farm feels like your favorite T-shirt you’ve owned for 20 years. I don’t know what magic they put into it, but I’m happy I’m a part of it. My line is slated to launch mid/late August, and will be available on their website.

Where would you say you are, right now, in your life? Are you happy?

I am so happy right now in all areas of my life. Even with the pandemic slowing everything down, I feel more alive today, more connected, happier, and so excited for the next chapter of my life and career. It’s only getting better, and I feel like I’m just getting started.

What, in your opinion, is the greatest luxury in life?

That’s a BIG question. So many answers to that, but since we have all been in lock down, I am never going to take FREEDOM for granted again. Right now, freedom is the greatest luxury. Freedom to travel, freedom to see friends and family, freedom to hug loved ones, freedom to be on a set and work on different projects… I can go on and on, but this interview would never end!