Peter FacinelliPhoto: Giuliano Bekor
I felt like I was in a dream—but I wasn’t. I really was talking to Peter Facinelli, aka Dr. Carlisle Cullen from the Twilight movies. Although the series’ fans are bloodthirsty with anticipation for the November 20 release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, the 35-year-old actor—an avid Tweeter with over 1.2 million followers, and father to three daughters with 90210‘s Jennie Garth—seems as calm and cool as his signature vampire character. Currently in New York shooting the second season of Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, Facinelli regularly commutes home to Los Angeles to visit his family. The strikingly handsome star took some time from his hectic coast-to-coast schedule to fill Time Out Kidsin on his family, his career, his hometown (in Queens!) and, of course, the Cullens.
Will Twilight fans be surprised by New Moon?
I don’t know if they’ll be surprised; I’m hoping they’ll walk out of the theater happy. I was a fan of the book and am very pleased with how the movie came out. The Cullen family isn’t featured as prominently [as in the first film]. New Moon is focused more on the werewolf side of this small town. Also, Chris Weitz directed New Moon and his vision is different from [Twilight director] Catherine Hardwicke’s. It’s not the same as Twilight, but it still has its edge.
Was it challenging to play dad to a brood of actors so close to your own age?
When I first got cast I thought, I’m only about ten years older than these kids; how am I supposed to play their father? But I was more conscious of that on the first movie. Carlisle’s speech pattern and movements aren’t very contemporary, so it gives him more of a patriarchal feel.
Is the Facinelli household on Team Edward or Team Jacob?
When I asked my three-year-old what she liked about Twilight she said Edward.
How has Twilight changed you?
I’ve definitely got more people asking me to have a picture taken with them. The fan base is fantastic. They are very loyal and giving. Some people will fly in from other states just to come meet me.
Do you have a lot of moms as fans?
The fans span all ages. It’s not like more of the moms like me. They love the whole Cullen family.
How do you like living in New York?
It’s great! I grew up in Ozone Park, so it’s always nice to come back. I moved to L.A. in 1996 but I’ve shot a number of things here: The Big Kahuna with Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito, Riding in Cars with Boys and now Nurse Jackie.
What are your favorite things to do with your family in the city?
At Christmastime we like to see the tree at Rockefeller Center and go ice-skating in Central Park. The kids love to go shopping at FAO Schwarz, walk around the city and buy pretzels or hot nuts on the street corners.
Ever get back to Queens?
A couple months ago I went to Aldo’s Pizzeria where I used to go all the time. They sponsored my baseball team when I was a kid. Aldo is still working there on Cross Bay Boulevard and still makes one of the best pizzas in New York.
What was it like growing up in Ozone Park?
It was a real community. All the neighbors knew each other and watched out for one another. Fourth of July was huge. The streets would close down and fireworks would be lit off all the way down the block. I have a lot of good memories.
How do you balance family and work?
Any minute I have off, I try to get home. Last year I flew into L.A. on a Friday morning, picked up my kids from school, put up the Halloween decorations, had dinner with them and got back on a plane that night to go back to film. But it was worth every minute that I got to spend with them. I try not to go more than two weeks without seeing them even if it’s only for a day. And we also have Skype. At least we get to see each other! Sometimes we’ll even eat dinner together. I’ll be eating ramen noodles and they’ll be having a wonderful home-cooked meal.
As working actors, you and Jennie both have incredibly demanding schedules. What’s the key to your successful marriage?
We take it one day at a time. My theory: Don’t throw in the towel in a relationship if you’re having rocky times. You’re just going to have to start over with somebody else and then you’re going to have rocky times with them. Every time we’ve ridden through the rocky times, our love’s gotten deeper. At this point we’ve been together 15-odd years and I can’t imagine trading that time for somebody else.
You and Jennie have three children, daughters Luca Bella, Lola Ray and Fiona Eve. Any plans for more?
I believe the world was made for a family of five and no more. When you get in a car, you can seat five comfortably. When you go out to dinner, you can seat five comfortably. I’m from a family of six but those were different days; everyone climbed in the back of a Chrysler and your face was smashed up against the glass and nobody cared. That being said, never say never!
What do you like to do during your downtime, besides Twitter?
What downtime? Any downtime I have is spent with my family, with my kids. In between one doing soccer and basketball, another doing horseback riding and the three-year-old wanting to go to the park, I don’t have a lot of downtime.
Is it true that you like to take family road trips?
Yes. We take our RV to our daughter’s soccer tournaments and we drove to Portland, Oregon this past summer. I just bought a new RV the other day. We had a 33-foot and now we’ve moved up to a huge 40-foot Class A motor home. Who knows? Maybe I’m making room for one more child.
What’s up next for you, aside from the Twilight series?
I’m filming Nurse Jackie through December. There’s the possibility of a fourth Twilight [film]. I’ve written three scripts and hopefully they’ll eventually get set up.
Of all the characters you’ve played, do you have a favorite?
That’s like asking me to pick a favorite kid! Every one of my characters is my creation. I’ve liked them all. Dr. Cullen is a great character, but so is Dr. Cooper [from Nurse Jackie]. I love playing them both.