Interview With Actor Peter Porte, “Love At the Shore”

By Ruth on August 4, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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If you have followed Hallmark for any length of time, you have probably heard of the delightful dog named Happy. I had heard a variety of things about this precious creature, but I was completely transfixed when I discovered he was going to make his feature film debut on the Hallmark Channel in the first of the “Summer Nights” films called Love At the Shore. Of course, the humans are often billed second in a film like this, but I noticed two actors who were also making their Hallmark debuts in the film. Recently, I was able to chat with one of them, Peter Porte, and we had quite an enjoyable and extensive conversation about a wide variety of things, most principally this new family to which he has been welcomed so warmly–the Hallmark Network.

RH: Peter, so glad it worked out to talk with you today.

PP: Yeah, me too, Ruth.

So where are you right now?

I’m in Hollywood.

Ok, I wasn’t sure. Lots of times, I talk with people from Vancouver, so I wasn’t exactly sure. where you were located.

I’m actually heading up to Vancouver on the 19th to shoot another Hallmark movie {A Gift To Remember}.

Oh, okay! That was actually one of the questions I was gonna ask you. When I asked the fans about you, they were already saying that… even though this film hasn’t premiered yet, they are ready to see you in another Hallmark film. You already have quite a fan base. A lot of people saw you last year in the Ion Christmas film you did, A Cinderella Christmas.  And people are very excited to see you in your first Hallmark film.

That’s fantastic! And this film I’m getting ready to shoot will be another Christmas movie, which is exciting. Those are always fun to do.

And that’s actually what they were hoping for. This is working out so well. You are already answering some of the questions I was going to ask.

Awesome!

Peter, so how did you get started in acting? 

Well, the first show I ever did was when I was in third grade. Basically, it was a pageant about Christopher Columbus, and I know I only got the part because I had a somewhat period costume. My mother is from Poland, and she had a very traditional Polish garb that looked somewhat European. So they made me Christopher Columbus. I think that’s when I caught the bug. Then I did a bunch of shows in high school and I decided that’s definitely what I wanted to do with my life. I applied and I got into Tisch Performing Arts at New York University (NYU). I did my professional training there. I continued on to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). I studied the classics there–Shakespeare, Moliere…. I came back to New York and then hit the ground running.

Wow, that’s pretty impressive. I’m familiar with the places you went for training. Not everybody gets to go that route, but that’s really awesome that you got to. I’m a fan of the classics. 

Me too. I felt very lucky to be a part of this amazing partnership with RADA. Basically, we were able to use all their facilities and all of their teachers. Every year, a group of sixteen students throughout the US gets to audition, and then those that are picked get to take part in this program. It was just a nine-month program, but it was fantastic. I also think it’s a very different form of training there than what I was used to at NYU, which in my case, was a good thing.

When you actually began your career, you started out in theater, right?

Yeah, I started out doing a lot of experimental theater downtown like movement-based theater–real fun crunchy stuff.  Like deconstructed three- or four-hour-long presentations of Troilus and Cressida that took place in New Orleans. Looking back now, I’m so impressed with the group of people that I got to go to school with and then went on to do my first projects with because everyone was so tenacious. Everyone was like, “Yeah, who says we can’t do it? We’ll rent the space. Let’s figure out the funding. We’ll write it ourselves and we’ll put on a show.”  I think the longer you’re in the industry, all of these obstacles become more structured and daunting than when you’re like twenty years old. At that age, you’re like, “Why not? Let’s put on a show. We can do this. There’s nothing saying that we can’t do this.”  And we did.

My big first professional gig was doing the national tour of Mamma Mia. I traveled the country, and it was such an awesome first professional experience because I grew up about an hour outside of New
York in a very small village called Greenwood Lake. My understanding of America was very much…you know, we’ve got New York. We’ve got Los Angeles, which I’d like to visit someday. Then we’ve got maybe Chicago and Miami.  And the rest, I thought, was like corn fields. So then I got on this tour bus and started traveling to all of these different cities within the US, and I was blown away.  I would never have had the opportunity to see Albuquerque and Wichita and Madison. Every single one was so special and unique.

I love Mamma Mia! I got to see it in London.

Oh, that’s where it originated.

Yes, it was such an experience! I love the show.

It was amazing. We had fans that would travel around the country with us, and they would come in full costume, and they knew all of the dance moves.  We would see them at the stage door and they were like part of our traveling family.

What role did you play in the show?

I was actually a cover for Sky, and I got to go on quite a bit. Sky is the young guy who Sophie is planning on marrying.

So when did you finally start moving more into film and television?

Right after college, I went to school for business to get my master’s. I booked Mamma Mia, and I had to put my education on hold.  They were only allowing me a little over a year before I would lose all my credits. So I had to leave the tour and come back and finish my studies. It was an awesome program. I got to study in Paris and Hong Kong. So I continued to be able to travel which was fantastic.

When my studies were over, it was the dead of winter in New York, and for the first time in my life, I was without a schedule.  I looked back and I thought, “Man, from childhood, everything was very clearly mapped out.  From middle school to high school to a very structured curriculum at a college and then grad school and Mamma Mia. ” Now all of a sudden, I was an adult or at least what I thought was an adult. I was an act without any future prospects and the city took a toll on me. It was getting dark at four.  I had a friend that had moved down to New Orleans and another friend that moved to LA. I went to visit her for Mardi Gras and just the idea of being in sunshine was such a novelty. I was like, “This is what I need to chase right now. This is where I have to be.”  Then I went to visit my friend in Los Angeles and I was like, “Duh, this is where I need to be. My decision has been made. I need to be in sunshine in February.”

I quit my job two weeks later and moved to Los Angeles and was crashing on a mattress at a friend’s kitchen for the first three months. I was very lucky because my agent who I’ve been with forever had recently moved to the LA offices of our agency. So I landed with someone already on my side rooting for me, which is very lucky. I started auditioning for film and TV, and for the first couple of years, I was doing guest spots and procedurals. Then I got a role on a soap opera–Young and the Restless. I was a regular on that for about a year and a half.

from Young and the Restless

I really find your story fascinating, but I I usually find people’s stories fascinating. But I love the musical theater tie-in. And then your story of coming from New York to LA. I’ve heard similar stories of those making the decision to make that move, leaving everything and crashing on someone’s couch. But I’m glad it ended up working out the way it did for you. 

So am I.

I’ve not been an avid soap opera fan, but I have great respect for the people who are on soap operas because I’ve talked to enough people now who have had quite a career on soaps. While some will try to belittle soap opera actors and say they’re not much of an actor, just look at the amount of work that is required and the pace of taping those shows and all the dialogue you have to memorize.  I don’t think everybody could do what soap opera actors do.

No, I’m glad you brought that up. I think it’s definitely a polarizing conversation when you discuss the work of a soap opera actor. It’s not easy to explain to someone else what is required of a soap opera actor. I can easily say that after working in quite a few different genres, I think the hardest and most rigorous schedule you will have as an actor is in the genre of soaps.  I think that doing a play where you’re asked to emote eight times a week and it’s heavy material is incredibly emotionally taxing. But when you add to that having brand-new material every single day, it makes it like boot camp for any other genre that you’re gonna work in.

I look at it this way when I try to describe just how intense it is. On a regular procedural, you often have between a week and eight days to film one episode.  On soaps, because they’re shooting four days a week and you’ve got to fill five days of material, you’re shooting an episode and a quarter of another episode every single day. You get new lines the day of.  You’re memorizing like on the spot. They’re editing on the spot so you have to be super conscious of where you’re putting your gage. While you’re emoting in these crazy scenarios, you’re also keeping an eye out for where the red dot is on which camera to make sure that you’re not giving them all profile. As far as creating an amazing performance, it’s often a hundred percent on you because there’s just not enough time to work with the director to rehearse it, to have five or six different takes. If you have to have two takes, you’re holding people up from going home or going onto the next scene. They almost expect you to nail it the first time. So yes, I agree it is a tough genre if not the hardest one to work in.  And I think it deserves a ton of respect.

I do too, because even though I don’t sit and watch them, when I do happen to catch an episode or two, I know it’s easy to go there and be really critical of the shows and the performances. But that’s when you don’t often realize all the other pressures that are on the actors. I think it is fantastic that you had that experience and that you had that experience early on because my understanding from talking with other actors is that when you’re in those soaps that you really do learn to memorize your lines very quickly.

Yes, you have to memorize very quickly. And there’s something else that is super challenging about soaps. In most cases in this business, you’re working with a script that has a very clear A to B to C.  But with soaps, you’re really only doing “B.” There’s really only a middle. The beginning was like forty-five years ago, and the end is nowhere in sight.  So you’re sustaining suspense and action and turmoil and all of these different crazy emotions in the wildest scenarios, but all in “B” stories, which is so hard to write because it’s often just stagnant as opposed to dynamic as far as the action goes.

I’d actually never thought about it that way before. That’s a really good point. I’m glad you brought that up.  It sounds like you learned a lot from your time on soaps and took away a lot from it. I’m sure it’s helped you and there are probably things that you learned back then that you still use even today.

Absolutely. Making any larger-than-life scenario realistic and that an audience member can can relate to is something that bridges over any genre. That’s one of the major challenges in sitcom. You have these big, punchy scenes where you’re landing jokes. But at the end of the day, you still have to connect with your audience and make it in some way relatable. Otherwise, if they can’t relate to you, you’re just a clown.

And you actually were on a sitcom for a while there. I hadn’t realized that Baby Daddy hadn’t been renewed.

You know, we reached a hundred episodes. We all were disappointed on some level that it hadn’t been renewed. But Freeform has a lot of new, fun, exciting content that they want to start focusing on. We definitely had a really nice run in that limelight. I think it was all meant to be. Although if there was a spinoff of Bonnie and Brad, I wouldn’t say “no” to that.

from Baby Daddy

It’s great that you were on that show for quite a while. I know it had a big following. I only watched it here or there; I didn’t always get a chance to watch it. I remember watching it at the beginning, but–

I forgive you, it’s okay.

It sounds like you guys had a really great time on that show. I know it was popular and had a little different perspective from some of the other sitcoms that were out there.

Yeah, I got to work with amazing people–the cast, the crew, the writers.  I look back on just the last handful of years. I’ve been super lucky I think to go to work, but I’m working with my family. We all hang out outside the show. Even though the show is over, we still go places together. We recently went to the Orange County Fair, and we still hang out. I made a lot of lifelong friends. The woman who played my wife, Michelle, on the show, Melissa Peterman, is one of my dearest friends, and I have the show to thank for that.

with Melissa Peterman

Yeah, and what’s kind of neat is although the family as far as the show goes is no longer going on, now you’re getting welcomed into another family.

Yes, and I couldn’t be more pleased with that. My first experience at Hallmark was incredible, and I’m really looking forward to this next one.

So with your upcoming Hallmark movie, Love At the Shore, which will premiere this Saturday, my question is, had you been a fan of Hallmark before making your first film for them?

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t an avid watcher of the Hallmark Channel, but it was my sister and my mom that got me into watching their holiday movies. And they are obsessed! I could be on Game of
Thrones or something big like that, and they’re more excited about seeing me doing Hallmark roles.
So it’s definitely a Hallmark family that I’m coming from.

That’s pretty common for people to begin with their holiday movies. I would say ninety-five percent of the time, Hallmark Christmas movies are where people begin their connection with the network. They watch those movies throughout the holidays with their family. 

It’s a common tradition.  It’s not just that you’re watching television when you watch those holiday movies, but it becomes synonymous with being with your family. Wherever you are in the country, you’re coming together for the holidays and you’re going to share that time together with your family, watching a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Right, and now Hallmark has expanded so much with doing all these holidays that it’s no longer just Christmas. 

Yeah, it’s super exciting. They’re growing so much now.  They’ve got the two channels. So far, I’ve been cast in two romances, but I’m super interested in doing one of their mystery films.

Oh, their mystery films are phenomenal! We are huge fans of all their mysteries. And on that channel, they also do more dramatic films that are still often romances, but the stories are more in-depth. But with the launch of their new channel, I think the possibilities are going to be practically endless.

Oh yeah, they’re awesome. I’m looking forward to working with the other two networks sometime in the future.

Happy the Dog; Peter Porte Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Marc Lemoine

So let’s talk a little bit about Love At the Shore, since that’s the next thing you have coming. What can you tell us about your character without revealing too much about the story?

I like to describe it as a classic love story of misguided first impressions. I play a surfer who is immediately put into a box by my co-star {Amanda Righetti} as being lazy, arrogant… let’s see, what else? {laughs} I mean that just pretty much sums it up. Arrogant, irresponsible, just kind of floating through life.  She is the opposite. And over the course of this film, they not only learn about each other and the truth of the matter, but also about themselves.

Peter Porte Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Marc Lemoine

That sounds like a fun little story.

It’s very sweet.  And it all takes place on Tybee Island, which is so beautiful. Have you been out there?

I have not been out there, no.

It’s right near Savannah {Georgia} and it’s gorgeous. They’re shooting a lot out there right now. In fact,  just as soon as Baywatch wrapped, we went in. So we were sharing a lot of the same crew.

And it’s also Happy the Dog’s first film. That seems to be all they’re talking about whenever the ads come up. They’re like, “It’s Happy the Dog’s debut movie! And it’s also starring…”

{laughs} My friend sent me a trailer, and I was like, “I’m shocked they put me before Happy! Usually, it’s the other way around.” But seriously, Happy the Dog is a pretty incredible creature. This marks his first film with Hallmark. He’s a rescue that Bill Abbott, the president of Hallmark, rescued. He’s incredibly trained. He never misses his mark.  He was a great co-star. He outshined me regularly. What I can say is that you might be seeing Happy again in another film. Maybe even in another one with me. We’ll see what the future holds.

Luke Loveless; Peter Porte Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Marc Lemoine

Well, Peter, you’re doing what they tell actors not to do. You’re starring in a film with an animal. Are there any kids in the film?

Yep.

So you’re breaking the classic forbidden actor rule. They always say, “Don’t make a film with kids or animals because they’ll outshine you.”

I’m working with a really cute animal, with two really cute kids, and a really incredibly charismatic and beautiful woman. You probably will not catch me in this film. But I promise I’m in it.

Peter Porte; Reagan Shumate Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Marc Lemoine

Well, we’ll try to look out for you. {laughs} I’m sure we’ll spot you. As I said, you already have fans.  In fact, there are already people saying how lucky I am to get to talk to you. 

Oh, wow, no, the pleasure is all mine. Thank you.

I actually had to do some research into who you were. I admit when I first heard your name, I honestly did not know who you were. 

I wouldn’t blame you. {laughs} I like kind of keeping under the radar.  In an ideal world, it would be working like this right now and still being able to go hang out and not worry about people recognizing me and being intrusive with my personal life. This is the perfect existence for me as an actor. It’s just doing good work, and then having people go, “Who is that guy? What’s his name again?” Sign me up, sign me up!

Peter Porte; Amanda Righetti Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Marc Lemoine

I regularly interview supporting cast members–that’s my thing.  Sometimes they haven’t even had a lead role. Lots of times they eventually get their first lead, but other times they are just happy doing the supporting lead or even being a minor character.  They love it.

I can see why.

I will say this though. As far as Hallmark goes, this movie might put you on the radar as far as those fans go, which could be a really good thing for you.

I’ve actually done quite a few of these interviews to promote Love At the Shore, and that’s what everyone keeps saying. I’m both excited and nervous. Hallmark has such an incredible history, and it’s like an institution in the industry. It has so many fans that I don’t quite know what to expect, but I’m very grateful and excited that all these people who might not be familiar with my other works are already championing me. How did that happen? That doesn’t happen at every network. That must be what makes Hallmark very special.  It attracts awesome people and really great fans.

The Hallmark fans are probably the best fans around. They are so loyal and kind and always supportive of my work and the works of anyone who makes an appearance on the network. Once you get on their radar, they will actually follow your work even if it is with another network. 

The viewership is tremendous. I think they have several million loyal viewers if I’m not mistaken.

I’m not sure of the numbers, but I know their viewership has increased like thirty percent over the last year. 

That is just unbelievable, especially considering that we’re now in this era that there are so many options as far as television goes and a lot of people are cutting cable and turning to streaming services. So Hallmark is really doing something right to have that kind of viewership.

I agree. Hallmark used to be a channel for your mother or grandmother, but it’s even becoming cool for young people to watch a Hallmark movie or show when it didn’t used to be. I love that my entire family–from my daughter in her teens to my parents who are in their seventies–can sit and watch the channel together.

You know, in a way, it’s a lot like Mamma Mia. It’s come at a time where I think we all need an escape. We all need to feel better. I think that right now throughout the world, including America, there’s
a lot of tension. I don’t know necessarily what the source of it is. I think it’s many things that have contributed to the tension. But right now, there’s a need for serotonin. There’s a very serious need for something that is uplifting, inspirational, motivational, and just “feel good.”  Hallmark has perfected that genre, and now that they’re growing and they’re having such strong responses, they’re also, I think, investing a lot into the quality of the movies that they’re making. And they’re very good.

So you’re off very soon to film this Hallmark Christmas movie.  Is there anything else upcoming that you can mention besides your two Hallmark movies?

Yes, I just wrapped on a show where I had a recurring role–Swedish Dicks. Don’t get scared by the title.  It’s gonna be on Pop TV. The first season will be airing very soon in August {August 9th according to their website}. It’s really funny. It’s about two Swedish detectives that move to LA and open up an agency. Then hilarity ensues.  They’ve got some incredible the guest stars.  It revolves around these two men, but they’ve got all of these people popping in and popping out. Like Keanu Reeves and Jon Heder.  I’m trying to think of everyone who makes an appearance. I’ll be walking through the halls, and I’ll be like, “I know that guy. That’s ‘Napoleon Dynamite.'” It’s a great little show, and I play a funny character named Brad–and that was the name of my character on Baby Daddy. I think I even wear one of the same suits that I wore on Baby Daddy. One of the detectives has an estranged daughter, and he comes back into her life.  I play her boyfriend. But I’ve got a secret and you’ll find that out of if you tune in over the course of that second season. I’m not in the first season. I just started in the second season. It’s actually one of the biggest if not the biggest show on the “Netflix” of the of the Netherlands.

Great! Well, that sounds like fun to me!

Yeah, it’s great fun, and it’s a great cast, and it’s very funny.

Well, I’m very eclectic in my taste as are many of the Hallmark fans, so I’m sure some will want to look it up. So have we covered everything in your career that you wanted to talk about? Is there anything I missed?

I think we’ve covered everything.

Well, I certainly learned a lot by talking with you today, and that is what I enjoy the most when doing these interviews. 

I sure enjoyed talking to you today, Ruth.

Are you planning to live tweet during the premiere? Hallmark viewers really enjoy that. 

That I will do then.  I tend to keep up with my Instagram better than Twitter. I remember live tweeting once during Baby Daddy, and I felt like I was taking my SAT’s. It was really stressful. But for Love At the Shore, I will give it a go. Because you say they like it, I will sure give it my best try.

The Hallmark fans are great, and they will get so excited if you at least try to tweet with them a little bit. And Hallmark itself will appreciate it as well.

Ruth, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I so appreciate it.

You are very welcome, Peter.  It was nice talking with you as well, and thank you also for taking the time to chat with me.

I simply adore the fact that Peter has so many incredible dimensions to his personality and psyche. He has his own unique outlook, and he is more than willing to share that if people will take the time to genuinely chat with him. Being a working actor in the business for quite some time has earned him a wealth of knowledge and insight, and I appreciate the fact that he raised some points I had never considered, especially in relation to soap operas and increased Hallmark viewership. If I don’t miss my guess, Peter is about to be the next big star in the Hallmark universe, and I believe that we fans are ready to welcome him with open arms. 

In addition to his sagacious perspective, Peter also brings an enchanting sense of humor, and that is something I further applaud. He recognizes the need for lightness whenever possible, and his mildly self-deprecating wit is another manifestation of his characteristic humility as well as his penchant for highlighting the others in the cast. It is clearly evident from his words to his mannerisms that he never desires to monopolize the conversation, nor the limelight, and in my opinion, this makes Peter the “perfect Hallmark leading man.” 

So I hope that everyone will come out in droves to support Peter and the rest of this fine cast and crew in the Hallmark premiere of Love At the Shore tomorrow (August 5th) night. And since Peter is willing to attempt his hand at live tweeting, let’s fully embrace this benevolent gentleman and shower him with kindness and affection as only we Hallmark fans can do. Check out all of his links below and please consider following him where applicable. While Peter’s name may not have been familiar to me in the past, as a result of this interview, I will never forget the remarkable, pleasant, and considerate gentleman who was willing to chat with an itinerant interviewer who barely knew his name. 

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
42-year-old single mother of an active 13-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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