Twilight fans know Peter Facinelli as Dr. Carlisle Cullen, while Nurse Jackie fans are familiar with the socially inept Dr. Fitch Cooper. Now the native New Yorker is starring as Peter Decker, a U.S. Attorney turned corporate litigator, in NBC's new thriller, American Odyssey.
In this Traffic-like action drama, an international conspiracy is uncovered with life-threatening consequences as a female soldier, a corporate lawyer, and a political activist try to sleuth out the truth.
The action begins in North Africa when Sgt. Odelle Ballard (Anna Friel) discovers computer files suggesting a major U.S. corporation is funding Jihadists. That same night, her unit is wiped out, and she is the only witness to the fact that it wasn't insurgents but U.S. Special Forces that took them out.
Meanwhile in New York City, Harrison Walters (Jake Robinson) meets a hacker who claims to have unearthed a massive military-industrial conspiracy by the same company that is trying to track down Odelle and have her killed before she can make her way back to the U.S. with a flash drive containing incriminating documents.
The third part of the equation is Facinelli's Peter Decker, who is working on a merger deal when he discovers a slush fund that is being used to finance Al Qaeda, and, as a former U.S. attorney, he feels he has no choice but to bring the matter to the attention of the authorities.
As all three characters continue their odyssey to bring down this corrupt corporate giant, they are constantly in jeopardy.
"For me this is an inspirational show because it really shows that as an individual, we can make a difference, and when you put many people together, it becomes a choir," Facinelli told Bio at WonderCon in Anaheim, Calif. "In this show you have three individuals who are really fighting, and it's lonely, it's scary, and it's hard. I think my character's tenaciousness is his greatest character trait, but it's also his greatest character flaw because he won't stop and that comes at a great cost to him."
According to American Odyssey's executive producers Adam Armus and Kay Foster, there are more than 100 private security firms in the Middle East and North Africa that have mercenaries on hire to do whatever needs to be done defensively or offensively, so the story they are telling is not that much of a reach.
"I don't think it's a show that rips headlines out of the papers, but it's definitely a show that explores current themes," Facinelli says. "In today's age, we fight for our freedom, but yet it's getting harder and harder to have that freedom with all the parameters put around it. How much can you speak out against the government without being labeled something? How much can you go against the corporations who are pretty much buying politics?"
With Nurse Jackie in its final season, Facinelli wanted to step away from comedy for a while and find a drama he could sink his teeth into [Twilight pun intended]. American Odyssey fit that bill. Even better was the fact that he didn't have to audition, but got the role after a meeting with Peter Horton, an executive producer and director on the series.
"For me it was daunting because we would do three episodes at once and, just when I felt like I gave birth and I couldn't do anymore, we'd get three more on top of that with a whole new director," Facinelli says. "So I always just felt like I was nose deep with my face buried in water because I'd sometimes have 40 pages of dialogue for the week coming up."
As a result, Facinelli had a lot of work to do after filming each day as well as on his days off, and as taxing as that was, it wasn't the scariest part. What really got to him was the question: Who can you trust?
"There definitely was a paranoia that I started to feel in my life," he says. "When you're trying to get this truth out there, and there are people who you think you can trust, and then it turns out that you can't trust them and they are friends; it gets difficult to know."
American Odyssey airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, while Nurse Jackie returns for its final season Sunday, April 12th at 9 p.m. on Showtime.