Peter Facinelli reprises his role as Dr. Carlisle Cullen in the latest Twilight sequel
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 is set to open this Friday, November 18th. In the film, actor Peter Facinelli reprises his popular role as Dr. Carlisle Cullen, founder of the Olympic Coven and adoptive father of vampire heartthrob Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). He is now set to take on Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) as his daughter-in-law, and will have to fight off both Jacob Black's werewolf pack and The Volturi in saving Edward and Bella's unborn child Renesmee.
We recently caught up with Peter Facinelli to reminisce about his time spent on set, and the immense character work that went into creating Dr. Cullen's 350 year old back story. To celebrate the release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, here is our conversation.
This pasty white look is a good one for you. Are you sorry to see it go? Or do you think you might return to it sometime in the near future now that the Twilight Saga has come to a close?
Peter Facinelli: I don't think I have enough paint needed to get that pasty. I would do blonde again, but I don't think I would ever go back to the pasty look. It's hard to look good when you're dead. Or undead.
You'll probably look better dead than this character does now. At least his skin tone...
Peter Facinelli: (Silence)
Okay, so...You've played this character in five movies all together. How much of his history and background did you actually develop and dive into?
Peter Facinelli: When I did the first Twilight, I did a lot of extensive research on this character. I was like the Wikipedia for all the other cast members. They'd ask, "When did you bite me?" I could spout off the date, whether it was raining, if it was a Sunday, the fact that it happened at 9 am. I knew a lot about this character. As the movies went along, it became less about the establishment of the character, because I had already done that, and more about the situations that have arisen in this lifetime. Focusing on this point in time.
Now that you have gone through this man's life, and you are finished playing him, looking back, how do you think he differs from the character that we read about in the book?
Peter Facinelli: Look, Carlisle onscreen is my interpretation of him. I don't know anyone else's interpretation of him. Everybody that has read the book now has this movie in his or her head. It's really difficult to do a movie sometimes, when people have their own version of it. You will not be spot on with their interpretation. So, you do your own interpretation, and hope that they like it. I've had good responses. People tell me that my interpretation is exactly how they envisioned him.
That brings up an interesting point. The kids that haven't read the books yet will now have you in their minds when they read Carlisle.
Peter Facinelli: That's nice.
It's cool, yeah. I don't know if they will ever remake these films, as another series somewhere down the road, or as a TV miniseries, but was there anything in the first three movies that you felt necessary for this character that you didn't get to do, but that you do get to do in these last two films?
Peter Facinelli: No. I always wished that in the movies, they had built more of a backstory for him. In the books, they go back to when Carlisle was bitten. How he was bitten. They tell of his father, and his relationship with his dad. He hid for three days under potatoes. Then he went off, and his first meal was an animal. He was so anti-vampire, that he was the rebel. He never fully embraced becoming a vampire. He always tried to hold onto his humanity. That's what was interesting to me in playing him. I remember, someone asked, "Did you do any research on vampires when you started this role?" No. Because Carlisle is more of an anti-vampire. For me, it was more a study on humanity, and why he wanted to embrace humanity. To hold onto his humanity. A vampire is animalistic. They are more nomadic. And they feed and prey upon humans. Carlisle, because of his love for humanity, didn't embrace that lifestyle. He wanted to live amongst humans. It was almost as if he wanted to be a human that could live forever. To be immortal. A superhuman race is, almost, what he wanted to create. He started this family. In his mind, in his ideology, he thought, "Maybe there is a day when vampires and humans can live amongst one another. Being a vampire doesn't mean that you have to be animalistic." There were a lot of debates going on when we were doing Twilight. I remember Robert Pattinson thinking, as Edward, because he was such a tortured soul...He was so anti-against the lifestyle that Carlisle had created. Not in the sense that he didn't want to be a vampire, but he didn't fully understand what we were doing living amongst humans...I remember thinking, "We are not weak in the sense that we want to live." People think we are docile and weak because we want to live amongst humans. I think that takes a greater strength, because you are going against every instinct you have as a vampire. You are fighting those instincts to not give in. To live amongst humans. That takes a lot more strength.
And these debates rage amongst the fans as well. People are once again complaining about a different type of vampire as compared to another, and it seems ridiculous to me...
Peter Facinelli: I remember this article, where Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone voted me the worst vampire in film history. Not in the sense of being an actor in a vampire role. But in terms of the actual vampire. I didn't take offense to that. Because Carlisle is the worst vampire in film history. Because he is anti-vampire. He really doesn't consider himself a vampire. He considers himself more human, with immortality. He is not scary. He is not this vampire that lives in the shadows, feeding upon humans. He is more humane.
Stephenie Myers has said that she may continue writing about various different characters in this series. Has there ever been any talk about going back and focusing primarily on Carlisle?
Peter Facinelli: No, I have never heard discussions about it. But it certainly would be interesting. There's 350 years of history there. I remember, for me, building this character...I wondered, "How do I bring on the knowledge of 350 years to the screen?" That is not an easy task to do. So I mapped out his journey over the course of these 350 years. This was a backstory that I created. I focused on where his travels took him. His influences. The music that was happening at the time. The political elements, the wars, the disease. Just doing that little backstory helped me. Having that information. Even though it wasn't discussed on screen, I had that in my back pocket, and I was able to bring it to the screen.
Have you retained all of this immense knowledge about the Twilight Universe?
Peter Facinelli: I used to. That was three years ago, and I haven't brushed up on it since then. That information was vital for me to create that character. Once I knew that information, in the later films, I let that information lapse. I really focused on what that character was doing at that given time. It wasn't about his history anymore. It was about the present.
What do you feel Bill Condon brought to this final chapter in the Twilight Saga?
Peter Facinelli: I think each film served its purpose. And I think each film did a terrific job in bringing those stories to life. I think this film has a big emotional journey that is happening with the family. Bill Condon was really good at working with the actors. He got us all on the same page about what this emotional journey is. Like I said, about Carlisle in Part 2, we have the threat of the Volturi, who want to come and wipe out our family. It's not just about losing my family, or Renesmee, it's about losing the ideology that I have of one day, all of us living harmoniously together. If my family gets wiped out, that ideology gets wiped out.
My favorite recurring cast member is Charlie Swan's can of Rainier. What are your thoughts on that particular beer?
Peter Facinelli: Vampires don't drink. Except for blood. So I don't have a comment on that.
Really? Vampires don't drink beer? I didn't know that.
Peter Facinelli: No. Listen, if they did drink? Maybe they would drink Rainier. It's kind of like Dos Exes, "I don't always drink blood, but when I do..."
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 was released November 18th, 2011 and stars Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Billy Burke, Anna Kendrick, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone. The film is directed by Bill Condon.