I recently had the privilege to interview Peter Deluise.
DeLuise is an actor-director best known for his performance on “21 Jump Street” and helmed more episodes of “Stargate: SG-1” than any other director.
Kurt Manwaring: Welcome! Before we begin, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and give us a sample of the kind of shows you have worked on?
Peter DeLuise: I started my career as an actor but over time I began to move toward directing as a more creative outlet. As an actor, I was a regular on “21 Jump Street” and “SeaQuest”. As a Director, Writer and Producer, I worked on the “Stargate” franchise for over 10 years.
Kurt Manwaring: You worked closely with Johnny Depp on “21 Jump Street.” Was there anything about his work on that show that led you to believe his career would take off the way it has?
Peter DeLuise: Johnny was and is a very talented and sensitive actor. The reaction that he got from the public when “21 Jump Street” was on the air was undeniable and he was a “stand out” from the start. I guess if someone is THAT skilled as an actor and THAT handsome it is not surprising when their career takes off.
Kurt Manwaring: Is there anyone in the entertainment industry you consider a mentor? In what ways have they been a help during your career?
Peter DeLuise: I have learned and continue to learn from everyone I work with.
I watch as many movies and TV shows as I possibly can in an effort to study and learn from those as well. I am a huge fan of Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Luc Besson, Jon Favreau and Ridley Scott to name a few.
Brad Wright, the showrunner of Stargate, has been my biggest mentor. Brad encouraged and cultivated me as a writer and producer for the show. I am eternally in his debt for the time and patience he shared with me.
Kurt Manwaring: As a director, I imagine you often get to enjoy creating art while collecting a paycheck. Is there a particular episode of any show that stands out in your mind as a labor of love in which you were especially excited to be engaged in artistic creation?
Peter DeLuise: There is an episode of “Stargate SG-1” called “Urgo” in which my father, Dom, played the tile role.
That will forever be the highlight of my time on that show, followed only by the episode entitled, “Wormhole X-Treme!” in which I got to play on camera with my brother, Michael and parody the show… oh, and of course, when I got to work with my other brother, David, as “Pete the cop”, on his story arc on the show as well.
Kurt Manwaring: Have you ever felt constrained in what you were allowed to do by a studio?
Peter DeLuise: Directing TV can feel constrained because there is an established template from which you must not deviate. However, that does not stop me from trying to inject as much humanity and humor in to the material as I can.
Kurt Manwaring: It seems rare when an actor-director becomes more well-known for their directing than their acting. In what ways does it reflect positively on your work when people recognize you as an essential figure behind-the-scenes of their favorite shows?
Peter DeLuise: I’m always shocked and flattered when people recognize or appreciate my work as a director. I think because I started as an actor I have insight in that area which helps elevate the material more than if I had started in another field. I am a firm believer that “character” and “story” are always the priority.
Kurt Manwaring: What do you most remember about directing your father in “Stargate: SG-1”? Were there any challenges associated with directing a family member? Did you feel he was proud of your success?
Peter DeLuise: As I stated before, that was the highlight of my time on that show. I am SO proud of that episode.
The biggest challenge was making sure my dad had a comfortable chair to sit in on set, the rest was his sheer comedy genius. He improvised a large share of what ended up in the final episode.
My job was to keep him on camera and get out of his way… oh, and to try to stop the cast from cracking up and ruining takes.
Kurt Manwaring: If “Stargate” is revived for a fourth in-cannon series, would you be interested in returning?
Peter DeLuise: Why or why not? HELL YES!!! That show was the most creative and fun thing I have ever done with my clothes on!
Kurt Manwaring: How did you first get involved with “When Calls the Heart”?
Peter DeLuise: I was working with Lori Laughlin on her Hallmark show called, “Garage Sale Mystery” (Lori is AWESOME!).
We had had a great time together on that project, so she recommended me as a director for “When Calls the Heart”. I should probably get her a fruit basket for that.
Kurt Manwaring: Let’s say you are asked to write the pilot for a fourth in-cannon iteration of “Stargate” in which the SG1 and Atlantis teams figure out a way to rescue the crew of Destiny. Who comes up with the idea to save them, how is the rescue attempt viewed by the crew of Destiny, who doesn’t make it out alive, and who is on board as key members of the team moving forward?
Peter DeLuise: I reject the reality of your question and substitute my own. First of all, there are far better writers than I to pen the pilot of such a project; Brad Wright, Robert Cooper, Joe Mallozzi and Paul Mullie all come to mind.
Obviously whichever actor from whichever “Stargate” series that is not currently contractually engaged by another show, comes up with the genius idea of how to save the hibernating crew of the Destiny, the survivors of which are the cast members from “SGU Stargate Universe” that are not contractually engaged by another show… duh.
Bonus Question 1:
Kurt Manwaring: Who is an actor you have worked with that you knew would knock any dialogue they were given out of the park?
Peter DeLuise: My Dad… Duh.
Bonus Question 2:
Kurt Manwaring: Many outside of the entertainment industry see the primary duty of a director as just pointing a camera. Could you share a few of your duties as a director that people may not be as familiar with?
Peter DeLuise: The director is the Storyteller. The director controls the way the audience digests the story, through elements such as pace, tone, style, shot design, actor’s performances and editing just to name a few.
Bonus Question 3:
Kurt Manwaring: What can you say to fans of “When Calls the Heart” who are worried about the future of the series given developments in Season 5?
Peter DeLuise: At the risk of stating the obvious, “without adversity there can be no drama. Without drama there can be no show.”