On the radar: actor Seth Peterson of ‘Burn Notice,’ ‘Hate Crime’ and ‘Sedona’Entertainment Feature Thursday, August 16th, 2012
Charming Hollywood actor Seth Peterson talked to San Diego LGBT Weekly about his role opposite Sharon Gless and Jeffrey Donovan on USA’s hit spy series Burn Notice, his multiple award-winning feature film Hate Crime and Sedona the movie, which will be released on DVD, Blu-ray, VOD and digital download Aug. 22.
The brilliantly engulfing New Age flick Sedona intertwines the story lines of two executives who initially experience a profound sense of loss in the magical essence of the location they wind up in. Have you ever been caught in a vortex? Haplessly ripped out of their fast-paced lives, the main characters portrayed by Frances Fisher, Seth Peterson and his on-screen partner Matt Williamson eventually surrender and gain focus on what really matters in life.
A self-proclaimed Twitter junkie, the hunky star is quite possibly the only celebrity who actually tries to personally interact with every single one of his fans in the realms of social media. Seth Peterson keeps his followers invigorated with a seemingly inexhaustible repertoire of quirky pleasantries, poetry, music, parody, zombie haikus and snapshots straight from the set. Check him out @sethpetersonla
Horace Schaefer: From what I gather, Twitter, to you, is a relatively new communication platform on which you interact with viewers of your screen work.
Seth Peterson: I’m embarrassed to say I have 17,000 Tweets since I got into it a few months ago and I tried in vain the other day to wipe all my Tweets so I can start fresh with a new app. I got rid of 4,000, but it looks like I’m going to be in the million Tweets soon.
Your fans have formed groups, Twitter-bombed networks to see more of you, and you still manage to keep in touch with everyone. How do you keep up? Do you set any boundaries?
Yes, I have a “No Tweet Sundays” rule and I’ll say, “Oh, I’m running out, please don’t ask me any questions when I’m gone.” I have my famous family time when it’s time to put away the phone and give the kids all my attention. So there are definitely boundaries. But I also found that at the very least I could reach out and basically respond to everyone at least once a day.
Some of your Burn Notice fans on Twitter expressed discomfort with seeing you in a “gay scene” when Hate Crime had come up and you handled it so delicately, reminding people of what’s really important, not who kisses whom. Now we see your followers share pics of their Hate Crime DVD just fetched from the mailbox. You seem to lack any sense of stigma attached to being portrayed as gay. Do you care to comment?
I grew up in Hollywood. It’s a really mixed bag here. When you grow up in that kind of environment there is nothing unusual about anybody you meet. And the fact that other people don’t see it that way is kind of odd to me. I don’t get it, that whole other viewpoint. There is no “us and them,” we’re all together. I’ve always felt that way. In my mind Hate Crime was a really important message and it wasn’t about homosexuality as much as it was about what’s right and wrong and when one group makes those decisions without taking into account a specific instance that happened, they lose sight of the bigger picture, which is, “Hey, we all have rights, we need to be protected.”
This Burn Notice business has been off the hook. For six seasons you’ve been part of a show that’s garnered fandom around the world. You play Nate Westen, the son of Sharon Gless’ character Madeline and the protagonist Michael’s brother. What is your most memorable experience?
I’d have to say the work I’ve been able to do with Jeffrey Donovan and Sharon Gless. In all the scenes we worked together in, there is a hugely entertaining family dynamic. I find it especially fascinating when the three of us are sitting at the dinner table and we all have different agendas. We sit there quietly and somehow, overtly, get our agendas all out. The series is so much bigger than a family show, there is so much more going on. So when you get those little breaks and you see Michael Westen at home and why he is so shut off, it’s the biggest fun.
Who is your favorite villain on Burn Notice?
Jay Karnes. When I worked on The Shield I did all my scenes with Jay Karnes. It’s an incredible show, by the way. Coincidentally he ended up being that bad guy on Burn Notice who shot me. We got to know each other and we follow each other on Twitter.
Wasn’t he sitting next to you on the Burn Notice panel at Comic Con?
Yes! That’s why I was so bored. Just kidding, Jay. I love you!
Your latest feature, Sedona the movie, gets its full release this month. What drew you to the project other than Tommy Stovall, the fabulous filmmaker you had worked with on Hate Crime?
One of the things about the movie I really loved is that Tommy wrote the last movie [Hate Crime], which is a really topic-heavy film. The subject matter is really intense. He likes to write about what he knows and he knows his characters really well. I’m pretty sure both of these lead characters he wrote are created out of his personal experience. It just so happens that the lead in Sedona is an accountant [as is Tommy’s partner Marc], and it is not his life story, naturally, but he speaks through him when he writes. And I kind of get how he thinks and how he talks.
He created this movie about this gay couple that has two kids and the journey they go through. And at no point in time do you ever really put any stock into the fact that they’re gay. You know what I mean? It’s really not even referenced to. Nobody at all says anything about it in the whole film. There is no reference put into it.
That’s in a big sense one step ahead; it’s juxtaposed with the typical gay plot line.
Exactly. The guy they hired, Matt Williamson, who played my character’s partner Eddie, is as far away from the character as you can possibly get. And we had so much fun. That scene that we did up on the top the mountains is one of my favorites. We just riffed off each other, had a blast. It was really fun to be part of.
Has that story line caused you personally to change views on how much you use technology vs. having family time?
No [laughs], I wish it would have. It actually got much worse. When I started that movie I didn’t actually have a smart phone. So the smart phone obsession began. I’m a method actor, not to the extreme, but that’s my basis of training. So, I started doing the smart phone stuff at the beginning of the show, and by the end of the movie I had bought my iPhone. And ever since I’ve been a ghost. That’s why I have to literally scream “Family time!” and leave the phone in a separate room.
How ironic! In closing, some of your fans wonder about your workout routine. What do you do to maintain your lean, muscular physique?
[Laughs] I don’t have one of those exercise or workout routines. I once did an article for Nelson Aspen, and I was actually the “anti-fitness guy.” My idea of staying in shape is doing cardiovascular work and staying thin, eating lots of chicken – Poquito Mas, El Pollo Loco, Carl’s Jr., and In N’ Out Burger… [laughs]
Seth Peterson’s upcoming projects include a role in the feature film Untold, which tells the true story of a lesbian entrepreneur who explores traumatic events that took place in her childhood, and We’re Alive, a 50s style zombie radio show that follows the characters and drama involved in surviving the zombie apocalypse.
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