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Peter's Q & A

What made you decide to become an actor? Did you know as a child that this is what you wanted to do?

Around 5th and 6th grade I thought that Dean Martin was the coolest guy in the world; he was a great singer, had his own television show and acted in movies. In an attempt to amuse my friends and family I would do impressions of him singing his hit, "Everybody Loves Somebody." I secretly really enjoyed singing the song and for a nine-year-old felt I did a pretty good job. But, when I was a child nobody I knew of ever became an actor or entertainer - it was just not something that seemed possible for regular people so it never occurred to me that you might actually do it for a living. I was thinking about becoming a fireman, or parascubaskinsky diver or businessman like my dad.

In ninth grade there were auditions for "The Fantasticks" and for one of the roles you needed to be able to do a cockney accent and for some reason I thought I could. I got up the nerve to audition, got the part and from the first rehearsal through every moment on stage felt like I was finally right where I belonged doing just what I should be doing. However, Mr. Bissell, our director, assured us that the road to a career in show business was tough, heartbreaking and nearly impossible. (And he was right.) So, I was a little sad that the thing I loved didn't seem to be an option.

When I was about to finish college, I had done a lot more theatre and singing and was about to get a degree in economics when I accepted the fact that I'd be a lousy businessman and if I didn't give acting a try I'd regret it for the rest of my life. So, it was with a heavy heart, anticipating certain failure, that I committed myself to spending the next seven years trying to get a job in the theatre. I hadn't even dreamed of the movies yet.

Fortunately I got work a lot sooner than that and even ended up doing a little homage years later to Dean Martin in the Coen brothers' movie "The Hudsucker Proxy." I sang "Memories Are Made Of This."

How did you get your start in show business? What was your first professional acting experience?

I moved to NYC after college and started reading the trade papers "Backstage" and "Show Business" to find out about the "open calls" auditions that anyone could go to even if you didn't have a union card. That's how I made my Broadway debut in the revival of "Hair" and followed it up with the bus and truck tour of "Grease" and eventually the original Broadway production.

If you're interested, in the background section of this website I give a little more detail about the whole "open call" thing.

You were great in The Idolmaker. Was that the movie that put you "on the map"?

The Idomaker is still a movie I'm very proud of, it was my first and turned out well. The producers had auditioned thousands of hopefuls because the roles required that we sing and dance and fortunately I had been doing a lot of both on Broadway and it all worked out.

It certainly put me on the map but for various reasons the movie didn't do a lot of business and then there was a 6 month film actors strike that shut the business down right after the movie opened. The next job I had after the movie was to play "Benvolio" in "Romeo & Juliet" at the Long Wharf Theatre in Connecticut.

So I was definitely on the "map" - I'm not quite sure which map, or where, but I started to realize that in order to stay on the map you've got to keep showing up, loving what you do and make the best decisions you can. If you do that and have some luck, you'll be too busy to worry about any maps.

You seem to have "done it all" - movies, television, stage, recordings - which area do you prefer, and why?

Having the freedom and opportunity to work in so many areas keep things really interesting for me. I can't say which I prefer, because they all contribute to each other and I'd be sad to give any of them up.

Are you married or single, and do you have any children?

I'm married and have two kids.

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