Peter Facinelli rated Rx in ‘Nurse Jackie,’ ‘Twilight’
So much so that he is pulling a double shift these days.
On Showtime’s darkly comic Nurse Jackie, whose second-season finale airs Monday, he’s Fitch Cooper, a smug surgeon who suffers from a strange, stress-induced malady dubbed “sexual Tourette’s.” When a woman makes him feel threatened or nervous, he’s compelled to grab her breasts — including those of series starEdie Falco.
“They are all very good sports,” he says of the actresses he has fondled professionally. “It is much more awkward for me. After multiple takes, I’m worried that they will feel sore the next day.”
A recent outbreak of such hands-on activity earned Cooper a broken nose and may have indirectly led to a stunned patient’s death.
On the big screen, he returns as Dr. Carlisle Cullen, the preppy patriarch of an affluent clan of vampires in Eclipse, the third film in the tween-fave Twilight saga that opens June 30. “Eclipse is my favorite book in the series,” says Facinelli, whose benevolent version of Count Dracula finally gets his bite on while warding off a rival gang of newborn hemoglobin addicts.
“I like that the two opposing forces, vampires and werewolves, band together for the common good,” he says of the plot, which finds the Cullens striking an uneasy truce with Native American shape-shifters to protect son Edward’s mortal love, Bella.
If he had to seek medical care from one of his docs, which one would he choose: the compassionate bloodsucker Cullen, who insists that he and his family feed only on animals? Or the socially clumsy Cooper, who can suck the air out of a room just by opening his mouth?
But he and his Nurse Jackie character do share one trait. They both are avid Twitter bugs, although Dr. Cooper probably doesn’t come close to Facinelli’s 1.6 million followers.
“I enjoy connecting with fans,” Facinelli says. “It’s interesting, because Dr. Cooper has an actual Twitter account and I talk to him sometimes.”
Between Nurse Jackie, which was picked up for a third season, and the ongoing Twilight blockbusters, the actor, 36, has never been hotter. Though dues were paid to get to this point. Facinelli, who is married to actress Jennie Garth of TV’s Beverly Hills, 90210 fame, first broke out in the high school party flick Can’t Hardly Wait in 1998. He starred in the Fox cop drama Fastlane and did recurring roles on the cable series Six Feet Underand Damages, but had less luck scoring notable movie work until the first Twilight film in 2008.
Still, he is glad to have never been subjected to the kind of intense public scrutiny as faced by his young Twilight cast mates Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.
“It must have been scary, to be catapulted into the limelight when you are that age,” says Facinelli, who will return for Breaking Dawn, the adaptation of the fourth book that might be turned into two films. “I don’t know if I could have handled it so gracefully, to be under that kind of microscope and judged if you go out or be judged if you stay in. The rumors just fly around. They lead a simple life and are not seeking that kind of publicity.”
But even Carlisle gets his share of shrieks from the so-called Twi-hards. “When I do charity events and the fans show up, I get some screaming there.”
Not so easily impressed, however, is daughter Luca, 12. “She just rolls her eyes and thinks, ‘Oh, my God, my dad’s a vampire. How embarrassing,’ ” says Facinelli, also father to Lola, 7, and Fiona, 3. “I’m sure even Obama’s daughters say, ‘Oh, my God, my dad’s the president. How embarrassing.’ ”