A Chat with ‘Damages’ star Peter Facinelli

“Damages” on FX is heating up now that the Frobisher trial is underway.  Cast newcomer Peter Facinelli, another fine east coast native actor has been added to the cast as Gregory Malina.

“Damages,” which airs on Tuesday at 10 o’clock on FX, is also unraveling the murder mystery of David Connor that is also tied to Frobisher.   Facinelli’s character Gregory Malina is in danger, as the drama of “Damages” gets better every week. 

Facinelli has a long resume in film and television, including roles followed, including “After Jimmy”  for CBS, and the AIDS-themed drama “Touch Me.”  Peter has also starred with Kevin Spacey and Danny Devito in “The Big Kahuna” and Drew Barrymore in “Riding in cars with boys.”

FOX’s critically acclaimed “Fastlane” also featured Facinelli with Bill Belamy and Tiffani Thiessen, and was directed by McG of “Charlie’s Angels.”

Facinelli is married to actress Jennie Garth, and divides his residence to Los Angeles and New York for work and family reasons. 

I asked Peter how long of a run he was to have on “Damages.”

“You know, I don’t know.  Gregory is kind of torn between two sides right now and
Everytime I flip the page, I wonder if I’m going to be in the next episode myself.  So it’s all up in the air right now, but because my character pertains to this one particular case, I believe when the season is over, then my part would be over.”

Kenn Gold of MediaBlvd.com asked if it looked like Gregory was going to be more involved in the conspiracy and if he had any insight into where it’s going with the rest of the episodes this season.

“Well, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.  Like I said, he was in Florida.  He knows what’s going on and he is being torn between two sides.  And that’s pretty much all I can tell you.  I can’t tell you any future episodes because I don’t want to ruin it for you.  But he is, after Katie has been knocked out, pretty much the missing link in the whole case.

Facinelli elaborated on his “redeeming” qualities. “It’s hard because I know in the episodes you’ve seen, he’s kind of a dirt bag, but I think he’s just a guy that was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught up in something and is just in survival mode.  So I don’t necessarily see him as a bad guy.”

Facinelli talked about the series continued use of key guest directors, including Mario Van Peebles from last week.

“Mario is great.  He’s an actor, so he’s a real actor’s director.  It’s interesting doing episodic.  I’ve done episodic before and every episode is a different director.  So you never know if you are going to get a director that is more technical or a director that is more camera savvy and lets the actors just do their thing, or somebody who just comes in and kind of plays and works with the actors.  Mario is one of those guys that did that.  He gives me ideas and suggestions that I hadn’t thought of. So it was kind of nice and I enjoyed him very much.”

I asked Peter if he preferred living on the East Coast raising his family there versus the West Coast.

“I grew up in New York, so New York is always going to be home for me.  But I have been living out in California for ten years, so I really prefer living in California because raising a family; I really like the suburbs to live in, as much of a suburb as you can get in Los Angeles.  But for me, if I lived in New York, it would have to be in Manhattan, because I love Manhattan.  It’s just a melting pot of different people and places and art and theater.  And so, if I was single, I would totally live in New York. 
So it’s kind of nice that I’ve actually been going back and forth.  I’ve been flying in; doing three days and flying back home.  It’s been a nice treat for me because I’ve gotten to see my family.  I’ve gotten to spend quite a bit of time in New York, but then I get to fly home and be with my family here.”

Facinelli talked about his character Greg and how it all came to be.

“I knew the writers beforehand because I did a pilot with them called “The Inside” that actually got picked up by FOX and subsequently, we all left the project for different reasons.  So we weren’t attached to the final project that aired, but I knew the writers and I wasn’t even aware that they had done this pilot. 

They called me on a Friday and they said, ‘Hey, do you want to come and do an arch on our show?’ And they sent me the pilot and I thought it was phenomenal.  I said, ‘Of course.’  And I was shooting on a Tuesday, so I had like four days to basically prep for the role. 

But at the beginning stage, I don’t think they even knew where the character was going.  They had a small idea, and then it basically unfolded itself. 

That’s why I love this show.  It kind of gives you pieces, and just unfolds itself like a good novel.  A lot of times I don’t even know where the characters are going.  I flip the page and where I think its going is completely the opposite.“

Peter’s Queens Accent and lack of it on “Damages” was discussed.

“I had a really thick accent, a ‘My Cousin Vinnie’ kind of accent and I went to NYU. It was fantastic because they taught you speech and they taught you movement and all the tools that an actor needs.  And my speech teacher I hated because she was so hard on me, but she beat my accent out of me.  I could play it if I needed to, but I try not to go there because when I go back to New York, it starts to come out of me.

I like doing different projects and playing different people.  What I’m proud of in my career is being able to play all of the characters that I’ve played like the business man in the ‘Big Kahuna’, and the slick cop in ‘Fastlane’ and the blind mountain climber in ‘Touch the Top of the World.’ And if I only had one accent, that New York accent, I wouldn’t be able to play all those people.  And the great thing about that speech class was once you learn neutral speech, you can play any accent.  I’ve gotten to play a Texas accents and experiment with different ones.”

Facinelli talked about the prestige of being involved in an FX series with regards to his future opportunities.

“I think it just broadens everything.  It used to be three big networks, and that’s what you go up for and everything else is ‘cable,’ or HBO and Showtime, which were a step above everything else. 

But I think everything is changing now.  There are some really good shows on the three networks and then you have HBO and Showtime, which are still phenomenal and now other cable channels like FX. 

There’s some shows on USA that are starting to become really popular and really high quality.  I talked to somebody once who said, ‘Nowadays there’s almost better quality on television than in some film,’ which is kind of interesting.
I think you’re able to explore the characters and depth more in television.”

Facinelli talked about what he has learned while playing Greg with the talented cast and crew on “Damages.”

“I’ve learned how good the writers are and to really trust the writing.  On some shows, there’s a tendency to ad-lib or go off the books, but on this show, I really try to stick to the writing. 

Because sometimes they give out re-writes and they just change a period to an exclamation point, so that’s how detail oriented they are.  And you know if they are spending so much time on each word, then each word is very important to them.  So I try to really stick on book.  So that’s been interesting for me because I like to ad-lib.

Facinelli explained further.  “If you want to add something to the end and if it works, it works; if not, they can cut it out. But in the middle of a scene, it’s better on this series to really stick to the dialog. 

Also I think why they put so much emphasis on it is because if an actor comes in and changes a line, it might affect a piece of story that might be coming out three episodes from now. 

So you really have to as an actor just stick to the words.  Because if I try to change something, all of a sudden that piece of information might not get across and two episodes from now, people won’t understand it.  So it’s a very interesting piece. This whole series for me has been different because it’s not close-ended; it’s like one long puzzle.”

I asked Peter if he had plans to pitch FX a series, since they seem to be receptive to actors ideas such as Rob McElhenney’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and Denis Leary’s “Rescue Me.” 

“You know, I do have a concept for a show that I’m working on right now, but I hadn’t thought of FX, so thank you.  Maybe I’ll take it to them.”

Kenn Gold with MediaBlvd.com asked Peter how he kept it all together with his family, three young kids, flying back and forth for work.

“I don’t know, it’s not always a piece of cake.  I have a great wife and she’s very supportive. I’m very supportive of her and we just make it work.  My wife’s schedule right now is crazy because she’s rehearsing so much.  So I’m here with the kids and she’s off rehearsing and then I’ll go to work.  And we also have a nanny that helps, so we have a lot of help.

But at the same time, we don’t just leave the kids to the help because that’s not how we raise our family.  We want to be involved parents, so we really do as much as we can. 

But it’s a balancing act, especially since I have three children.  My daughter has soccer.  Another daughter has something else and I have a baby who is crawling around trying to eat toys.  It’s pretty hectic at my house.”
FX Networks – “Damages” on Tuesdays 10 PM

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.

Elsewhere on the Web