Interview

ICYMI: Peter Porte Interview

Credit: JPI

In show business, “Break a leg” is a time-honored adage to wish a performer good luck, but it took on a literal meaning for Peter Porte when he was struck by a car while riding his Vespa in Los Angeles. “There’s no such thing as a small accident on a Vespa because what would’ve been a fender-bender turned out to be me flying off the Vespa, the Vespa landing on my ankle and shattering my ankle,” the actor explains. “I was lying there and the adrenaline was just pumping like crazy, so it didn’t hurt like I thought it would. Then I was scoping out the situation and that’s when I saw my ankle was on top of my foot. It was at this horrible position, and then I pressed on my calf and I felt a pop. It ended up breaking in four different places.”

Porte was rushed by ambulance to the hospital, which was just the beginning of his ordeal. “There’s a very small window with this kind of injury before your leg just becomes too swollen to do surgery on,” he shares. “Since it was Friday and no one was available, I had to wait a week until I was able to have surgery, which was so much more painful than the accident.”

What followed was his recovery — months of being laid up at home in a cast. “My friends have really gotten me through this,” Porte says. “I scheduled lunch every single day with someone new and I had them walk around the block with me so I’d get stronger on crutches.” The downtime was also devoted to learning Spanish and calligraphy, plus building “the biggest LEGO set of the Taj Mahal.”

Peter Porte

Porte’s injury, unfortunately, put him out of commission as far as work was concerned. “I was waiting on a pilot to see if it was going to get picked up or not,” he shares. “It was a remake of THE CALL OF THE WILD, and I had done a day of that. I had also just booked a film that they really wanted to make work and they were thinking of all these creative ways like, ‘Put Peter behind a pedestal,’ and, ‘We’ll just hide him.’ Even when I was in the hospital, my agent calls and says that I’m on hold for this new Christmas movie that would be shooting in a week but in the end, I had to turn them all down.”

Luckily, Porte had already finished a movie, CHRISTMAS HARMONY, which airs on Hallmark Channel for the upcoming holiday season. “It’s a Christmas musical with all original music and the music is great!” he enthuses. “I had a really good time filming it. We shot a bunch of it out in Colorado, in this little town in the Rockies. It was like shooting in a snow globe.”

Porte’s musical ability will also be featured in December during a run of the stage version of Love Actually in L.A., a show he performed in last year. “I will be playing the Hugh Grant prime minister role again,” he reveals. “It’s really fun. The highlight, if you’re familiar with the movie, is this big dance number where he dances to ‘Jump (For My Love)’ like no one’s watching. And that was fantastic, just dancing like no one’s watching — in front of 500 to 600 people every night!”

Though he’s gotten some plum parts of late, Porte is still thankful for his days in Genoa City. “Working with Doug Davidson [Paul] was such an honor and pleasure,” Porte praises. “He takes such good care of you. For someone that has been doing the show for as long as he has, he was always so excited to work on a scene and to rehearse with a new person. He said, ‘Lose the jacket. Lose the backpack. Leading men shouldn’t be carrying things. They should just come in like a hero,’ and I was like, ‘Yes, Dad, that’s it!’ Throughout that whole process it was great to have him as a mentor. He takes such good care of you.”

When Y&R decided to get rid of Ricky, the character took a very dark turn. “Basically, the producers said they were making some big changes,” Porte recalls. “I think they cleaned house at this point and since I was one of the last people in, I was one of the first people out. I was told, ‘But we are going to give you a great send-off,’ and they did! Suddenly, this milquetoast character was a sociopath. I was very grateful that they gave me that send-off because they really didn’t have to. Ricky could’ve just left town, but instead they had me stealing babies and threatening to kill ex-girlfriends. That final scene with Doug was one of my favorite scenes I had ever performed. I can say, [being written off] was a blessing because I could’ve gone through my whole contract, still just an all right character. At least I got to go out with a bang!”

JPI

After Porte departed Y&R, a wide range of roles started coming his way. “It’s been kind of a whirlwind,” he marvels. “I went from soaps, which are very dramatic and very serious, to doing sitcoms. I did a bunch and then found a little home at this show called BABY DADDY, which was on ABC Family that became Freeform. What was supposed to be one episode turned into four years with this group of incredible performers and writers and producers. I still call them some of my closest friends in Los Angeles. That ended last year. I loved it!”

Then an unexpected opportunity arose from Hallmark Channel. “That came out of the blue,” he notes. “I had never worked with the network before and hadn’t even auditioned for them. Last year, I got a call and they had seen another movie that I’d done for Christmas [A CINDERELLA CHRISTMAS]. I think they liked my work and they asked if I wanted to do one of their movies. It was shot in Savannah, Georgia, and then from that one, other ones came in.”

Working with Hallmark has become a successful collaboration. “They’re an incredible network,” Porte declares. “It really is like a family. They take very good care of everyone. It’s a very close-knit, family approach to television. It’s doing exceptionally well because in our current climate, people are starved for something they can watch with their whole family that is going to make them feel instantly good. I think that the last movie I did with them [LOVE, ONCE AND ALWAYS], the ratings were unreal, like 8 million viewers. I’ve even sent over a script that I’m trying to work on with them.”

Thanks to his accident, Porte has learned two things about his acting. “I shot a movie last year where [my character] was in an ambulance after a bicycle accident and in hindsight, I would’ve done things so differently because in real life I was a little hysterical,” he chuckles. “Also, I hope that I have a really intense, gory scene in the future because I’ve got some really great memories for how to perform it!”

 

JUST THE FACTS

Birthday: March 29

Where It All Started: Born in Greenwood Lake, NY. “My family is now living in Sarasota, FL.”

Sibling Count: One sister, Marianna, who is two years older. “We didn’t really get along growing up. She was an introvert, I was an extrovert. I was bouncing off the walls and she just wanted to read a book in her room peacefully. But our relationship has grown so much deeper and stronger.”

Higher Learning: Earned a BFA in Acting at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, then studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Relationship Status: Single and dating.

Fur Real: “I grew up with cats but I got my first puppy about four months ago, a Vizsla I named Butters. We actually share the same birthday. He’s still very much a puppy and has lots of energy. If I’m having a little pity party, he can sense it and he’ll just put his paw on my face like, ‘Knock it off! You’ll be fine.’ ”

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That’s My Mama

When Porte guest-starred as male stripper Blaze Deluxe on the sitcom TELENOVELA in 2016, he finally got to meet the show’s main star, Eva Longoria (below), who played Ricky’s mother, Isabella, on Y&R. “I drew the connection for her and then we just discussed a little bit about our time on the show,” he recalls. “She really enjoyed working with Doug Davidson. What an incredible career has come from that experience for her. And then we talked about stripper moves — you know, important stuff!” Of their shared soap roots, Porte reflects, “We’ve both come a long way. First, she played my mother on Y&R and now I’m playing her stripper, so life is funny sometimes! Not only did I get to do that episode and chat with her then, but they also had me back when Zachary Levi wasn’t able to attend a table read. They were like, ‘Oh, let’s invite Peter and he can read the part.’ So, I got to hang out with Eva a couple of times. She’s great to work with. Not only was she performing, but she’s behind the camera and she was producing the show. I don’t know how people can weave their brain around wearing so many hats but she does it quite gracefully.”

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