Interview With Actor Peter DaCunha

By Ruth on September 15, 2016 in Interview, movie, television
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Every time I interview a young person in the entertainment business, I customarily have a sense of awe and excitement. Most of these young performers have accomplished so much in their relatively short life span, and the vast majority of them (unlike the gossip columns would prefer you to believe) are “good kids.” In the case of Peter DaCunha, it was truly a joy when I recently had the opportunity to speak with him about how he started out as an actor, his notable works (including Hallmark), and how he remains as positive and grounded in a world of incessant negativity. 

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RH: So, Peter, did you have a busy summer?

PD: Yeah, I was mostly hanging out with friends and drawing.

Oh, are you an artist?

Yeah, I like to draw, but I’m not really amazing.

I have a daughter who really is a good artist, and she’s thirteen. Didn’t I read you’re thirteen too?

Yes, I’m thirteen.

So what is your school situation like?

Well, I was homeschooled grade seven ’cause I was doing a whole bunch of movies. I just figured it’d be easier, but I’ve gone back to school for grade eight.

I was looking at your credits, and you have been busy. You’ve got more credits than some of the adults I interview. {pause} So why did you decide to become an actor?

My sister was a singer. When my sister was around twelve, she wanted to get an agent. So I went to Toronto with my sister and my mom to find her an agent. She’s six years older than me. She went in to go get the agent, and my mom and I came in with her. The agent looked at me and asked me if I wanted to join. I was just five, and my mom was just like, “He’s too young. I’m not sure if he wants to do that.” But I was like, “I’ll do it.” And they were like, “So what do you want to do?” And I was like, “I wanna act.” And they just let me into their agency. I tried it out, and I’ve been acting ever since.

That’s pretty cool. Good that you were there and spoke up. So has your sister continued to be a singer?

She is still a singer, but she hasn’t been singing for awhile ’cause–well, she just started singing again, but she had thyroid cancer and she had a surgery to get rid of it. She couldn’t sing for a little bit, but  now she’s good. She can sing.

Oh my goodness! I’m glad it all worked out, but you guys have had to go through a lot as a family. I’m sorry that happened, but thankfully there’s a positive outcome. Well, let’s hope she can get back into singing again soon.

Yeah, I know we’d all like that for her.

img_5873.jpgAs I was looking through your credits, I noticed that back a while ago, you were on an episode of Rookie Blue

Yeah, I was.

Not too long ago, I interviewed Travis Milne.

Oh, he’s so cool.  When I was on that show, I think I was around seven or eight. It was like the first show I ever did so I was really nervous, but I was ready for anything. I was prepared.

And you were also on Murdoch Mysteries, right?

I was. I just did that last year, I think.

A few months ago, I got to interview Yannick Bisson.  My family and I just discovered the show, and we’ve been binge-watching the show this summer, and we got all caught up.  So I’m sure I’ve seen your episode, but I didn’t realize you were in it. 

That show has been running for a really long time.

It has, and the following for that show is huge. So how was that experience being on that really well-known show?

It was really fun because I’ve always liked doing history and ones where you get to dress up. And I got to be a little thief. So it was lots of fun. I kept getting hit by cars. {laughs}

Okay, I think I remember the episode! In fact, my whole family will! That is pretty cool! And that was a pretty good episode. You were very convincing in that one. 

Thank you.

I also noticed you’ve been in some great holiday movies that I recognize.

I have. And I love doing Hallmark movies.

fullsizerender-1.jpgDefinitely. So do you have a favorite holiday film you got to work on?

Pete’s Christmas was definitely my favorite. It was because my sister also got to perform on the soundtrack for that one, so that was awesome ’cause she got to be included in that. Also I met a lot of people that I’m still friends with today on that shoot. And it was just so fun and light-hearted on that set like it is on every Hallmark set ’cause it’s such a little fun Christmas thing to do. And you always feel so happy when you’re on set ’cause you feel like it’s Christmas. You’re opening presents as a family. It’s just like a really happy thing to do.

img_5630.jpgAnd lots of times, you’re filming those in the middle of summer. So that’s got to be cool ’cause it’s not Christmas time, and yet you’re filming a Christmas movie. 

Pete’s Christmas actually was filming in the middle of the winter, surprisingly. So some people got frostbite on set. It was actually like freezing. So that was the first Hallmark movie I had done that was filmed in the middle of winter. But all the other ones I had to be wearing snowsuits when the weather was nice and warm outside. {laughs}

Do you have a favorite Christmas film that you like to watch?

Um, The Christmas Shoes. It’s a thing that I  watch with my family, and it always makes us cry. It’s really sad.

I can’t get through that movie without crying either, so I hear ya. {pause} So I noticed you also have a recurring role on 12 Monkeys.

Yes, I do. I play Ramse’s son, Sam in season two only. But I’m hopefully going to be back for season three. I hope, but I haven’t heard anything yet. I’m really excited for it. I got to be a part of the cliffhanger from season two–sort of–there were like three cliffhangers, but I was one of them. It was pretty fun.

How did you get this particular role?

I did a little audition, but I also got on the show ’cause I worked with an AD on the show when I was on Defiance. And they recommended me to the 12 Monkeys people. So I did an audition, and they liked me. They let me in, and it was really fun.

img_4619-1.jpgThat’s really cool. I don’t think sometimes people realize that in this business, having those relationships is a good thing. So that’s cool that happened for you. 

I was also on Saving Hope. I did a little guest star role on that show. It was fun, but it was also very tiring because I had to pretend to be having seizures. They had a special person on set to coach you how it’s supposed to look, but when you do it, it starts to cramp up your muscles like, “This really hurts!” But everything else was really fun, and everyone was super nice. The guy who directed my episode was the same guy who plays Charlie on the show. Since he was directing, I got to meet him, and we wouldn’t have gotten to meet if he hadn’t been directing.

Do you have any other upcoming works that you can mention?

I just recently did a TV movie called Mommy’s Little Boy. It filmed in Ottawa, and it was super fun ’cause I got to see Parliament Hill. They have such fun stuff in Ottawa. It was fun on set ’cause I got to do a lot of super fun hardcore stuff. There was some comedy in it, but it was a lot of very dark stuff. It’s about a boy who’s in an abusive relationship with his mother. He meets another family at the park, and it just goes downhill from there. It’s a really cool movie, and everyone should watch it. It was super fun.

If you just finished it, it probably hasn’t aired here yet, but we’ll keep an eye out for it. It sounds like it might be a Lifetime film.

I also just did a short film last year called Big Crunch, and it’s starting its festival run now. It would be awesome if everyone saw that. It’s a short film directed by Dusty Mancinelli and produced by Harry Cherniak. I am also an associate producer on it. It will premiere at the Atlantic Film Festival on September 18th, and I  will be there. In fact, I will be trying to attend as many festivals as I can with the director and producer. This movie, The Big Crunch, is a science fiction, off-beat comedy about a boy who has an existential crisis about his place in the world after learning that the universe will one day collapse in an epic big crunch.

I also did XX, and it’s part of a horror anthology. There are four short films in it. The director of each short film is a female director, and the lead of each short film is a female actress. I did one of the short films and starred with Natalie Brown. And it was super, super, super fun. Everyone was super nice, and I think everyone should see that. I’m excited to see it. It’s gonna be scary.

Natalie Brown–I interviewed her too.

You did? She’s so nice!

So were those your first independent films, or have you done others?

I’ve actually have done more independent films. I definitely support Canadian film. I really think it’s awesome. They’re so talented. I think everyone should watch more Canadian films ’cause they’re artsy, and everyone is so nice on them all the time. I did a lot of independent horror movies at first. And then I did some independent Christmas movies and comedies. I’ve never done an action movie. I really want to do an action movie.

That’s good that you recognize the importance of supporting independent films, especially at your age. Not everyone recognizes that. {pause} As a young person in the entertainment industry, how do you keep away from the negative influences and stay out of trouble?

My mom has always said to me that eventually when I get older or if anything happens while I’m still living in her house and under her rules, I will be done with acting. She wouldn’t want me to go through that. I wouldn’t want to go through that myself.  I just stay positive. I just write and respond to good messages on twitter. I don’t try to start any fights or anything. I just want the world to be a better place. I don’t wanna make it worse. So I just keep to myself. I’ve been approached by people at school, and I just say, “No, I’m not doing that.” And I just leave it alone. Hopefully, that strategy works for the rest of my life.

That’s good, and usually, I hear that it is the parents being involved that makes the difference. So yes, your mom is doing a great job. 

Pamela DaCunha: Thank you. I think you really have to be involved ’cause it’s so easy to get caught up in life and all the drama. Especially if you’re in LA, you get invited to a lot of different things, and kids are  exposed to things at a young age that they wouldn’t normally get exposed to. So I think it’s good to have more to your life than just acting. And it’s nice when you do your chores and you play soccer and you do things that other kids would do. And then he does acting as well. A lot of people say, “Does he have time for anything else?” Well, we make time for other things. He has to see his friends. He has to do these things. He doesn’t need to work.  He’s not paying a mortgage. This is great for him, and it’s beneficial for his future, but I’m not gonna let him burn out doing it. Sometimes, we’ll say no to things and walk away from stuff, even if he really wants it. It’s better to have a good home life than to get involved in all this other stuff.

You have an awesome mom, Peter! {pause} That is so good that you have that outlook and that you have a life outside of acting. {pause} What would be your advice to young people who want to enter the industry?

I would say start with musical theater. It’s super fun to do, and it’s sorta like preparing yourself . They teach you how to stay in character. I didn’t really know what to do when I did musical theater, and I was like, “Wow, I learned a lot.”   I tried out for an agent after my first agent, and I was lucky enough to get in. It was awesome, and I would say everybody should start with musical theater. And then just keep going.

That’s something. I’ve had adults tell me the exact same thing about starting with musical theater. At your age, you know a lot about the business. It’s great to see that. And since I was a music teacher, I would agree with you a hundred percent. 

Thank you so much. I just love everything about acting. It’s super fun.

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As I reflected on this interview, I was reminded of why Peter is such an extraordinary young actor and person. Not only does he immerse himself completely in all of his roles, but for him, every part of the process is brimming with vitality and anticipation. Moreover, Peter himself is a bundle of infectious vivacity that just bubbles from within his heart and soul and radiates to all of those in his vicinity. His personality is one that instantly connects with and affects those around him, and I am so pleased that he has a conscientious mother who is looking out for his best interests in all things. Peter is the kind of person who would probably take on far too much and potentially exhaust himself beyond reason if he didn’t have his maternal equalizer at his side. While Peter has become a competent professional in the thirteen years in which he has inhabited this planet, there is no doubt in my mind that those credits will continue to increase not only in number but in intensity. Peter is ready and willing for the next challenge to be pitched his way, and no matter what, I believe he will be equipped. As Peter makes his way to the Atlantic Film Festival this weekend, I implore you to visit his links below and maybe even drop him a message of “good luck.” Also, if you are so inclined, be sure to follow his accounts so that you can track his increasing progress towards the fulfillment of his hopes and dreams.

FOLLOW PETER

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher

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