If you see Peter Facinelli on the subway, don’t be afraid to say hello—and then make sure you still have your wallet. The actor learned how to swipe iPhones, wallets, and even briefcases for his role as a career pickpocket, whose playground is the New York City subway system, in the recent film Loosies, which he wrote, starred in, and produced.
Shoot locations for Loosies, including Grand Central Station, the Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, and, of course, the subway, were all too familiar to the Queens-born actor, who also stars in Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, which is filmed in Astoria and returns for a fourth season this Sunday. Later this year, Facinelli can be seen reprising his role as Dr. Cullen in the conclusion of that little vampire series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, bringing mass chaos to a theater near you this November.
In between shooting Nurse Jackie and sourcing new projects for his production company, Facinelli Films, we caught up with Dr. Cullen—who will always be Mike Dexter (from 1998's Can’t Hardly Wait) to us—to chat about Loosies and why you should always make eye contact with people on the subway.
Why was Loosies a story you wanted to tell?
PETER FACINELLI: I studied theatre at NYU and I would take the subway in every day. It fascinated me, this underground world of different people, cultures, and noises. I’d be in one subway station and there’d be people playing music on buckets, and then go to another and someone was playing the violin. I wanted to capture all that. So I imagined this pickpocket whose office was an underground world and what [would happen] if he was forced to come above ground and live.
Working on a big budget franchise like Twilight is a far cry from producing a smaller, independent film like Loosies. Which do you prefer?
PF: With an independent, you have less money and you have to be more creative, but often more interesting things [happen]. I remember there was this street performer we were walking past and we asked if we could film him. He agreed to be part of the movie and he was perfect. There was a sense of real edginess, because we captured something that was live and real. Had we written him into the script and hired an actor to play that part, it would have been a completely different thing.
How did you train to play a pickpocket? Any tips for New Yorkers on not being a target?
PF: I worked with this magician and his whole routine was pickpocketing the audience. I got good at picking watches and learned there are certain watches that are easier to pick than others. Wallets are simple, if they’re in the back pocket. If they’re in the front, they’re almost impossible to pick. You know the saying, ‘Always keep your wallet in your front pocket?’ That’s pretty true.
What I did realize is how easy people make it for pickpockets. They leave their purses open right next to them. People are sleeping and most are in their heads, in their own worlds. It’s almost a cardinal rule NOT to look at people when you’re on the subway, because you don’t want to engage, you know?