Actor Peter Facinelli is probably best known for his role in The Twilight Saga but in my heart he’ll always be Mike Dexter from one of my favorite ’90s comedies, Can’t Hardly Wait. He’s certainly done a lot in between those two films, including appearing regularly on the Showtime hit Nurse Jackie, and now he can be found starring in Victor Garcia’s latest horror film The Damned. We chatted with Facinelli about working in the horror genre for the first time and why he chose to work with director Garcia on his latest feature.
How did Facinelli get involved in the movie, an independent possession film shot in Columbia, in the first place? “I got sent the script, I hadn’t done a horror genre [film] before. I don’t necessarily look for stuff by genre, this happened to be, this is the genre that it was in and I thought it was interesting that I hadn’t done the horror genre before. I kind of was like, this is a cool story set in a genre I hadn’t done before, which is exciting, and then I watched the director, Victor Garcia’s short [“T is for Tiles” from ABCs of Death], and I just thought, ‘Wow, I just really like him as a director,’ and I was just excited to work with him, so I signed up for it. For me, anytime you have a genre, it should take second place to what the character and the story is. And to me, at the heart of it, a family who is at risk and the stakes were high and their family was being threatened by something and that was what I gravitated towards.”
If Facinelli has never worked in horror before, does he enjoy watching horror movies on his own? Not exactly as he explained to us, saying, “For me, I tend to block it out. I block it out on purpose because I get really wimpy when I watch demonic possession movies. If I watch one of those movies, it stays with me for days. A picture frame will fall and I’ll be like, ‘Oh my god!’ or a door will shut and I’ll be like, ‘AH!’ It kind of haunts you. I remember when I saw the Emily Rose movie [and] for three days I couldn’t sleep, so those kinds of movies, when I watch them, have an effect on me but as I was filming it I had to make sure I didn’t start to get sucked into stuff like that. So for me it was like, OK, the little girl who played [Ana Maria], I would make sure I would go say hello to her beforehand. I’m like, ‘OK, she’s just a little girl…’ [laughs] but I could understand how your mind starts to play tricks on you like that. I was overly cautious blocking it out when I was filming it.”
Even if he was scared of the surroundings while making The Damned, would Facinelli return to make another horror film? “I would! I really enjoyed it. I thought when you do these scary movies, you tend to not look at it from the ‘Laurence Olivier actor’ [perspective]. As an actor, you’re not looking at it for that kind of acting, but for me it was emotionally draining. Everyday I went to work, the stakes were so high, I was like, ‘Wow! This is a lot of work, actually!’ and so, I look at it like there’s good acting in horror movies, it’s just a lot of times the horror stuff supersedes in your mind but, like you said, the heart of a good horror movie is the melodrama that’s going on around it. For me, a good horror movie is all about the tension and the horror becomes a release of that tension.”
The Damned, starring Peter Facinelli, Sophia Myles, Nathalia Ramos, Carolina Guerra and Sebastian Martinez, is in select theaters now and available on VOD August 29.