Miami Living Magazine

Peter Facinelli

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Page 87 of 177

Peter and I settle into a booth in the hotel restaurant, Maialino, which is abuzz with brunch diners. The New York native, who now resides in Los Angeles, is sporting an L AHH camo baseball cap, a black t-shirt with an unbuttoned blue button- up, light-colored jeans, and a five-o'clock shadow. "Thanks for having me in the magazine," Peter starts off. Once our waitress finishes taking his order —an Americano and brioche toast with jelly— Peter tells me about his current project. "I'm filming a movie [The NXIVM Cult: A Mother's Nightmare] about the cult, NXIVM —basically, a self-help program for women run by a man, Keith Raniere. It has been around for twenty years, actually, but in the last couple of years, Keith, who started this program, also started this underground division asking some of the women to be part of this sex slave cult thing," he explains. The movie is based on actress Catherine Oxenberg and her daughter, India, who was one of NXIVM's sex slaves, and Catherine's fight to get India out of the cult and deprogram her. NXIVM and Smallville's Allison Mack, NXIVM's queen bee, made news headlines in early 2018. In June 2019, Keith was convicted on all charges brought against him, including sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, human trafficking and multiple counts of racketeering, including sexual exploitation of a child; he faces up to life in prison. "I can't say I'm having fun at work, because it's not fun to play this guy, it's been a challenge though. No one walks around thinking they're a bad person, so I have to find a reasoning behind why he does what he does. People joke about cults, but it's out there. Brainwashing is a real thing," Peter says solemnly. To prepare, Peter studied inter views Keith has given. "You tr y to focus more on the essense of them than parakeet how they move — things that you pick up, mannerisms and speech pat terns." Playing this "stomach-churning" role appealed to Peter as it is unlike any charac ter he has por trayed. "You can't always play the hero riding in on the horse, sometimes you play the other par ts, too. That's sometimes scar y, because who wants to play somebody who has no redeeming qualities? Sometimes with bad guys, you can have fun with it and the audience loves to hate them, but it's scarier to play charac ters that people just hate." Peter also took this role so that he could bring some at tention to this stor y. He thought it was impor tant to highlight, since he has three daughters. "I felt like people should watch this so they can understand and recognize, 'Oh, maybe what I'm in is a cult.' Because there are signs to watch out for." The following day, Peter was scheduled to wrap up filming on this movie, and then return home to finish the final cut of his film, Hour of Lead. Hour of Lead is a film that Peter wrote, directed, and acted in. Starring Thomas Jane, Anne Heche, and Jason Patric, Peter describes Hour of Lead as a whodunit, Hitchcock-like thriller. A family of three go to an RV park and while there, their daughter goes missing. Peter opted for a minor role —he plays Deputy Rakes— since he was busy directing the film. "I used to have an RV and I remember pulling up to an RV park and there was this prison two miles down the road. The guy who owned the RV park said, 'If you hear one or two gunshots, that's normal, but if you hear more than two, come to the front desk. Sometimes they do drills or tests, one or two gunshots is OK.' So I started imagining: What would happen if a convict escaped? What happens if your daughter goes missing in the woods? It's a parent's worst nightmare. And then I wrote it and I was fortunate enough to make it." This is the first feature film that Peter has both written and directed. Writing the screenplay came fairly easy to him, and only took three weeks. Getting the film made was a bigger challenge that took seven years. "I had it set up a couple of times and then money falls out. And then I get a movie, then I'd have to go shoot a movie. Then, it would fall apart. There were times where I wasn't going to direct it, and another director was going to direct it. I was going to star in it. Then, there were times where I got busy and I was just going to have it made and someone was going to direct it with somebody else in it —I was just going to produce it. Finally, after I'd done my first feature [Breaking & Exiting], I thought, No, I think I should direct this one —so I did, and then the money came for it." He takes a sip of his Americano. Peter never studied filmmaking; he learned ever y thing he knows from working on sets as an ac tor for the last 25 years. "There's stuf f that I've learned through osmosis that I don't even know that I know. On the day, I'm like, 'Let's do this, do this, this, and this.' And it's coming out of me — I didn't even know I knew that— because you're subconsciously picking it up af ter hundreds of movies and T V shows and you're just on set all the time." Though each day brought new challenges, Peter loved the whole experience. "I tr y to be really prepared as a direc tor. Really know what I want to get. I always have a Plan A , Plan B, somewhat of a Plan C, and then I'm open. At that point, if none of those work, then you know you have enough knowledge to make something work." For example, Peter didn't have the equipment he needed his first day on the set of Hour of Lead and had to

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