Truly an "actor’s actor," Peter Cilella has earned a reputation amongst his peers as a dynamic force and, throughout the industry, as "One to Watch." From his turn as "Malvolio" in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (Powerhouse Theatre, LA) to compelling performances in numerous short films, such as LadyFingers, Pickle Power, Hole in the Paper Sky, and Good News, Oklahoma!, or his recent guest-starring role on CBS’ Criminal Minds, Cilella’s body of work is reflective of both his range as an actor and an ongoing pursuit of diverse roles.
Making his jump to the big screen, Peter will be starring in Resolution. This highly anticipated, genre-defying thriller from directors Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead showcases Cilella in an unforgettable performance dedicated to getting his best friend Chris (Vinny Curran) back on the road to sobriety.
We talked to Peter about his career, life in Los Angeles and his role in the new film Resolution.
We understand you have a degree in graphic design from Notre Dame. Why did you choose to major in graphic design?
I was way into visual arts long before I discovered performing arts. Graphic design seemed like a smart way to earn a living and be creative.
How did you get into acting? Was it a dream of yours as a child or is it something that developed later on in life?
Simply put, I played dress up. I would come to the breakfast table in ridiculous costumes that I had assembled from things I found around the house, and I would invent a character around them. Clown, Flasher, G.I. Joe characters, etc.… I had a wild imagination. Still do.
What was it like over at The Second City? Were there any crucial life-lessons you took away from your time there?
It was an eye-opening experience. I was 19, taking class and working nights at the theater. On the nights when I worked, I would watch the shows. Such great talent - Tina Fey, Horatio Sanz, Jerry Minor, Kevin Dorff, Ratchel Dratch, Scott Adsit, to name a few. Being around professionals showed me just how much work goes into it. You don't just get up on stage and wing it… but if you're good at it, that's what it looks like - effortless.
You have been in a number of commercials - Ally Bank, Chevy, and Budweiser, to name a few. What is your favorite part of shooting commercials?
I like the pace. Usually it's only one day and it moves quickly. I don't really like sitting around too much.
In the film Resolution your character is helping his best friend get on the path to sobriety. Many people have helped their loved ones on that journey. What are some of the challenges of playing a character that so many people can relate to?
I think there is a lot of pressure to keep it real without falling into clichés - it helped to have a script and a director that wouldn't let me go down that road.
How did you get involved with Resolution and what was it like working on the film?
I've known Justin Benson (one half of the directing team) for years. We have done a few short films and spec commercials together. Aaron Scott Moorhead (the other half) has worked on some of those and Vinny Curran (my co-star) has been, I believe, my co-star in every single one. Justin and I were having beers one night and he told me that he wanted to make a feature length film with me and Vinny - a few months later he had a script and we were on our way… and it was a really cool script.
Working on the film was a mixed bag of everything - exhausting, exciting, rewarding, and ultimately a lot of fun.
What are you hoping people get from watching the film?
I hope they love it and tell all their friends to see it! I hope they talk about it - not everyone is going to interpret it the same way, so I am very curious to see people's reactions. There are some surprises and it is definitely like nothing I've seen.
The premier at Tribeca must be exciting! Where is the film off to after Tribeca?
Not sure at this point...taking it one step at a time.
What can we expect next from you?
Hopefully a spec sale. I have some scripts in various stages…. One in particular is an action comedy I co-wrote with my buddy, Ben Oren. We have it out to actors and producers.