After more than two decades in front of the camera, Peter Facinelli is hardly in the—wait for it—Twilight of his career. His latest film is the Paramount Home Entertainment release, The Vanished, available On Demand from Redbox to rent or buy. This is the second film that Facinelli has written and directed. He also has a supporting role. Thomas Jane and Anne Heche star as a married couple whose camping vacation becomes their worst nightmare when their young daughter disappears. The Hollywood Reporter praised The Vanished as “a compact, consistently unpredictable thriller that provides few reassurances, but plenty of surprises.” We recommend you don’t try to outguess this movie; we’re pretty confident that you will not anticipate where it is headed. Facinelli spoke with Redbox in this spoiler-free interview about what drew him to directing, the hassle of directing Peter Facinelli and the most unexpected place “Dr. Carlisle Cullen” from Twilight was recognized.
Redbox: This film is every parent’s nightmare. Where did the idea come from?
Peter Facinelli: It came out of an RV road trip I took with my daughter when she was five. I pulled into this little mom and pop RV park. I heard some gunshots and I asked, ‘What’s that?’ The owner of the park said, ‘Don’t worry, there’s a prison about two miles down the road. They do drills once in awhile. If you hear one or two gunshots, fine, but anything more than that come running to the front desk.’ He was half-joking but I started thinking: What would happen if my daughter went missing in the middle of this beautiful woodsy vacation? What would happen if there was a prisoner on the loose? What would that do to a marriage? I sat down after years of contemplating and wrote this script.
RB: The Vanished works on several levels. It’s a thriller, a whodunnit and a psychological drama. Plus, there’s some really messed-up stuff that happens.
PF: It’s an interesting movie to watch a second time because you’ll notice (clues) the second time around, like the line, ‘We’re having trouble with Taylor.’ I didn’t want to just make a depressing movie about a missing child.
RB: So after acting for more than two decades, what you really wanted to do was direct?
PF: I’ve worked with so many directors. Some are great with actors, some are more technical. As an actor, I’ve always loved collaborating with other actors, and I’ve always been fascinated by the camera. It took me awhile to find an opportunity to direct something because it’s not easy to get someone to say, ‘Here’s a bunch of money and a script.’ My first feature, Breaking and Exiting fell into my lap because their director fell out and they were desperate. I got bit by the bug.
RB: It’s great to see Anne Heche in a lead role. Talk about working with her.
PF: She is so talented and just a raw nerve of emotions. That’s what I was looking for in this role, someone with the emotional depth who could take the audience on this journey. There’s nothing like working with a passionate actor who comes to the set excited and with ideas.
RB: Was it an advantage that she and Thomas Jane had worked together (on the HBO series Hung)?
PF: Thomas Jane came on board first and I gave him a list of women who might be right for the role. He recommended Anne. When you’re playing a married couple, chemistry is hard to fake. They really understood each other. It’s not something I had to work on creating. Lord knows they had enough to do with this film.
RB: What was it like to direct Peter Facinelli? You use him sparingly. Was he a diva on the set?
PF: (Laughs) He’s a big pain in the neck, that guy. I told him he could have a small role, but that’s it. Actually, I originally thought that I would play the lead role and have someone else direct. I didn’t want to take on the responsibility of also having the lead role because directing is enough work. Maybe I’ll get there someday; I’ll Clint Eastwood my way into a movie.
RB: What’s a Peter Facinelli set like?
PF: I’m so busy, I wouldn’t know. I hope that it’s pleasant. I always feel like the energy trickles down from the top. It does get stressful, but my motto is never let them see you sweat. It’s a race from sunup to sundown to get all the pieces you need to make the puzzle. But there’s an adrenaline rush like nothing else, too. As a director you’re answering questions and problem-solving all day. There is not a moment when you’re not doing doing doing. But it’s such a rush; I love it.
RB: I wanted to give a shout-out to your composer, Sacha Chaban. The music is really effective in this film.
PF: Thanks. He was such a great find. I worked with him on Breaking and Exiting. He has such passion for what he does; I just love working with him. For the scene in which the daughter goes missing, I told him about a time when my own child went missing and the emotions I went through. He started playing something and nailed it in one take.
RB: We have a question from our readers. During the pandemic, the casts of several beloved films, like The Princess Bride and Mean Girls have had virtual reunions. Are there any plans for a Twilight reunion?
PF: We tried to do it and it kind of fell apart. But I’d like to.
RB: What’s the most unexpected place you were recognized from the movie?
PF: Thailand. I was on vacation. To get recognized on the other side of the world in the middle of nowhere is bizarre.