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    Irish Independent

    Matinee idol scripts a starring role in Twilight years

    Peter Facinelli, aka Twilight's Dr Carlisle Cullen, tells Julia Molony why he wants to tell his own story
    By Julia Molony
    Sunday July 04 2010

    He's your classic mega-watt movie star. In his leather jacket, with tanned skin, perfectly even features, and dazzling smile Peter Facinelli looks like he just walked out of a box labelled matinee idol.

    But though Facinelli has certainly hit the mainstream -- he's best known for his portrayal of Dr Carlisle Cullen the family patriarch in the Twilight franchise -- he's built a successful career out of being in the supporting role. Perhaps it's partly because in pictures and on-screen, his square-jaw and handsome features come look ever so slightly sharper than in real life, lending him a character-actor sort of edge.

    Not that he's complaining. He's got 15 years of strong work behind him, and an eclectic CV. But perhaps that's why, now that he's well into his 30s, he's carefully and strategically developing a new sideline, as a writer and producer.

    "You get all these scripts and you wait around to tell someone else's stories and at a certain point I just wanted to sit down and start telling my own stories and to be able to facilitate that as well. And it feels good to be able to say 'hey I created something, and now it's being produced and now I'm creating jobs'."

    One of those jobs is for his wife, Jennie Garth. Among children of the Eighties, she will always be best loved for her acid portrayal of Kelly Taylor in Beverly Hills 90201. She recently enjoyed a revival when the series was remade, but mostly she's been focused on raising the couple's three daughters. She is, however, about to start shooting for a made-for-TV movie written by her husband and produced by the Hallmark channel.

    "I like diversifying my writing as much as my acting," Facinelli says. "The one I wrote for my wife is kind of a romantic comedy. And the one that I'm starring in is ... kind of my homage to Seventies movies ... It's kind of a coming of age story for a 30-year-old guy. A guy who is a commitment-phobe, and he has to commit."

    Commitment isn't something that Facinelli has struggled with. Still just in his late 30s, he's been married with children for years now.

    I wonder if the decision to settle down quite young was a reflection of a desire for stability in an insecure industry but Facinelli doesn't think anything he's done has been very strategically planned.

    "Wasn't it John Lennon who said, 'Life is what happens when you are busy planning'? It was circumstances that happened but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Would life be easier if I didn't have three children and a wife? It would be easier in the sense that I wouldn't have the responsibilities tugging at me. It's easier when you have to jump on a plane to not have that responsibility of other things, but you get back in so many other ways that I wouldn't want to trade it. At the end of the day when my job is done I have so much to go home to. And I would feel kind of empty if I didn't have that."

    He admits that getting a work/life balance as a father of three has become more of a challenge of late.

    "I have to again take it day by day. Because if I look at my schedule for the next three weeks I'll want to burst into tears. London today, next week I'm in New York, last week I don't even know where I was. It gets strenuous on the family, because I have to constantly get on a plane and go. And every time I have to leave my kids, the look on their faces when I have to leave is sad.

    "But ... in the job that I do, there's concentrated periods where I'm away and there's concentrated periods when I'm home, but there's times when I'm home for a whole month or two where I'm there all day. Then my family gets sick of me and then I get to go away again."

    As an actor, Facinelli doesn't fall into any neat niche. He's got a long-standing and happy relationship with the youth entertainment market -- mainly thanks to Twilight, but he also does edgy and dark. His other key gig at the moment is playing the dysfunctional Dr Fitch Cooper, on Showtime's Nurse Jackie -- an agenda-setting drama in the HBO mould, which pulls no punches in its portrayal of the complexities of modern life.

    "When I look back on all the roles I've played, I always think it would be fun to have all those characters I've played in one room, because they are so vastly different," he says.

    It's variety of experience which motivates him -- hence the decision to branch out into more behind-the-scenes responsibility, and the relish with which he has embraced an extremely eclectic roll-call of characters over the years.

    Has his life changed dramatically since the Twilight circus rolled into it?

    "It definitely feels good to be part of a franchise that's so well known. And I get to meet so many people and go to so many places and the fan base is so big. It's hard when you are in the forest you don't see the trees. I kind of just do my work and all that other stuff -- responses -- it's all a cause and effect. You do your work and whatever ripples happen from there I let it take care of itself. I don't walk out of my house feeling like I'm any bigger of a celebrity than I did three or five years ago. I walk out of my house thinking I have a job to do and I go do it."

    At 37, he's by far the most senior member of the Twilight central cast, and though the film trades firmly in the preoccupations of adolescence, Facinelli pleasantly but firmly corrects the suggestion that it's just for kids.

    "It's got this vampire folklore which I think is appealing to men. And as much as they don't want to admit it, I think the romance gets guys too."

    The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is out on Friday

    - - Julia Molony
    Sunday Independent

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