Peter Jacobson: The Proxy with Moxy

I was lucky enough to have the chance to speak with actor Peter Jacobson, Proxy Snyder on USA Network’s “Colony.” He’s a down to earth, honestly nice man. I would also like to thank Peter for taking the time to let us get to know him a little better.  Please enjoy the interview….and the Colonists’ questions for their Proxy.

    Congratulations on season three of “Colony.” Is the move from LA to Vancouver for filming going to affect any of the actors? Will the whole family move?

PJ:  Moving to Vancouver will affect Sarah the ‘best’. She lives in Vancouver, so she’s VERY happy right now. I’m not sure how she pulled this off. I’m going to try to get season four shot in New York. We’ll see how much she likes that.   The move will likely affect me a fair amount because there aren’t many direct flights between NYC and Vancouver, and I’m not a big fan of rain. On the other hand, it’s a gorgeous place, and I hear the Chinese food is unbelievable.

There are people who would say before (and maybe after) playing Taub on “House,” you were a character actor. Someone recently said that there is no such thing as a “character actor,” because all actors play characters.  Do you see things that way?

PJ:   Well, saying there are no character actors because ‘all actors play characters’ seems a little silly, and kind of misses the point. ‘Character actor’ simply means not a ‘leading actor’; not one who plays typically romantic roles, but one who plays a wider variety of different types, usually supporting roles.  At least that’s what it has traditionally meant, and I don’t see any problem with that definition in a literal or theoretical sense. I’ve always been a character actor, and I’ve always been happy with that. I love the wide variety of roles I’ve played. And until I start regularly playing the handsome action hero, or the guy who gets the girl (which might be a long wait for me), I’m pretty happy. 

And of course there are small parts.There are also big parts. And there are medium size parts. Duh.
        I have to admit that I love that answer and very much agree with it.
      You’ve so much on your resume, even a credited singing part from the 1999 movie “Hit and Runway,” where you played Elliot Springer.
“If I was a Rich Man,” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” Tory Kittles (TK) also has a credit for writing a song for one of his movies. Any chance of a collaboration…him writing, you singing? That would be awesome!!
      PJ:    I think there’s some confusion here about the singing in ‘Hit and Runway’; which was a fun indie film I did years ago. In one scene, my character jokingly sings the first line of ‘If I Were A Rich Man’, and so I guess legally the song needed to be credited, even if it was just one line sung by me. I was no Zero Mostel. So I wouldn’t use that as evidence of me being a real singer. But I can sing. And I hear Tory has been tying to sing. I’d be happy to give him singing and twitter lessons.
     On your off time, what do you do to relax? 
     PJ:   I exercise and read to relax. I alternate between running and cycling, and between fiction and non-fiction.
    Will season three see any writing or directing from you? I think that would be great.
     PJ:    You will not see any writing or directing from me in season three. Although, one day I would like to direct.
      Carlton Cuse. Everything he touches seems to turn gold, “Colony” is no exception. How is it working on one of his shows?
         PJ:   Carlton Cuse is great. I love his shows. He’s not an unintelligent man, you know. I love what he and Ryan have done with Colony so far. I love what they’ve done with Snyder so far. It feels great to be in the hands of such a terrific writer. Even when I have no idea what’s coming next, it’s easy to trust that wherever I’m going, it will make sense (even if it doesn’t always make sense for the audience), and it will be smart, clever, funny… just really really good. That’s a rare and wonderful feeling for an actor to have (especially on TV).
    The cast is packed with sheer awesomeness, who’s the prankster of the lot?
       PJ:    I’m not sure we have a real prankster in our group. Then again, I’ve hardly ever worked with Tory. I’ve heard that he’s not a prankster, but that he’s exceptionally vulnerable to being pranked. So I look forward to taking advantage of that. 
What I love about our cast is that everybody is there to work hard and get it right, but we also have a lot of fun. Some days, some scenes are just harder and more stressful, some days not so much. But that’s true on any show. 
     “The Midnight Meat Train.” One of my fave horror movies, which I didn’t even recognize you (have to go back and re-watch). Your usual roles are in pretty tame series “Law and Order,” “House,” “Colony,” etc. What was it like being in a horror movie with Bradley Cooper?
      PJ:   The Midnight Meat Train! So psyched you liked it. I played the short order cook, and I didn’t get to chop Bradley Cooper’s head off, or even say boo. But I loved working with him. He’s a super nice guy. 
     You’ve worked with some great stars…do you have a favorite? Or do you just soak up the experience?

PJ:   I have been lucky in getting to work with some pretty fantastic actors. Mostly, I’ve just enjoyed soaking up the experience… when I wasn’t peeing in my pants. Seriously, I do think it’s important to keep a certain professional distance. At least at first, to get a feel for how these actors like to work — how much do they like to discuss the work, do they like to chat between takes? Again, it’s almost always the case that everybody wants to work hard and get it right, and that can happen in different ways with different actors.

Probably the coolest time for me was the small scene I had with Jack Nicholson (and my future ‘House’ cast mate Lisa Edelstein) in ‘As good As it Gets’, where he makes anti-semitic remarks to us in a restaurant. The rest of the scene was actually pretty long, and it took two or three days to shoot the whole thing. So there was a lot of down time, sitting in the booth with ‘Jack’, just chatting about life. He’s obviously a fascinating guy. And he seemed like an incredibly hard worker, serious actor, and all around lovely, down to earth fellow. I was dizzy the whole time. 
And doing the New York production of a Steve Martin play, with Steve Martin at every rehearsal… that was a wonderful experience. 
I think what I love most of all is hearing these actors talk about their careers. How they started out, what was it like in ‘those days’, what are some of their great memories. Elliot Gould, John Voight, Robert Duvall… those guys have some amazing stories. I’ve definitely been lucky.
      Now, a big thanks to @ProxySnyder from Twitter, some Colonists have some questions for you:
1. What was your reaction to learning the final scene was all you and a mysterious button?   And did you realize it would create such a huge reaction from fans? 
I was actually expecting an explosion, but realized Snyder is too selfish to blow him self up. Though, I do have a pretty good idea what the button is for.
   PJ:  1. Honestly, it was exciting for me that Snyder had the very last moment of the season. Mostly it was exciting because the button move is utterly consistent with who Snyder is and what we’ve come to expect from him, and it’s also a very surprising and dramatic moment that really sets up expectations for next season. So that’s just more great writing, and therefore not surprising at all that fans were especially excited about it. And then of course, from the angle of my actor’s ego, it’s also just nice to have that last moment. Somebody tweeted something about Snyder activating his garage door. I thought that was pretty funny.
   2. Throughout Colony we see you as a “good” guy and a “bad” guy and it seems to bounce back and forth in the fan’s court of opinion.  Where do you hope or think Snyder will end up when all is said and done?
  PJ:   2. First, I hope Snyder survives wherever he’s going. And then I hope that he completely retains his awesome ability to swing so seamlessly between being a good guy and a bad guy. I don’t want him to lose any of that. It’s who he is, his essence. And it’s what makes him an interesting character. 
  3. You interact so well with fans on twitter and they all certainly enjoy it, do you have any favorite fan moments?

  PJ:    3. The twitter thing still feels pretty new to me, and it certainly is strange. I really enjoy interacting with the fans. It’s wonderful to get their feedback, and to see how much they’re enjoying the show, talking about the show, excited about the show. Some of the fans on twitter are pretty damned funny too. There’s the garage door tweet, and I like those mini videos people use. I’m just a learning how to do that. (God I’m old.) 

I can’t think of any specific moments. But I enjoy how hard it is for Tory to keep up with me. Poor guy.
4. Your scene with Tory Kittles (Broussard) got a lot of chuckles as you “ran” from him for a moment.  Do you hope to turn the tables one day and see Tory/Broussard run from you?

PJ:     4. When we first rehearsed that scene, I was struck by the fact that after two seasons (23 episodes) Snyder finally comes face to face with the man responsible for so much death and destruction and fear; and so I ran all the way up the cement slope there and then kind of tumbled back down. I thought it was pathetic and funny, but our director, Juan Campanella, wisely told me that less would be more (I get that direction a lot). He was right. I think that little moment works well. It tells the story it needs to tell, and it’s still funny. 

I do hope that somewhere next season we get to see Broussard run away from Snyder. It will probably be easy for Tory to tap in to his natural fear of me. 
5. Your daughter seems to mean a lot to you the few times she is brought up in the show – Do you think she is a big motivator for the things that Snyder chooses to do?
     PJ:     5. Snyder most definitely loves his daughter, and she has at times been a motivating factor for him. But I think he’s ultimately looking out for himself first. 
6. We were all very excited when we FINALLY learned that Colony was renewed for a 3rd season.  What was your reaction?
   PJ:     6. I was thrilled when we got renewed. Really thrilled. I think there’s so much more story to tell, and I can’t wait to help tell it. Josh sent me an email on my birthday telling me unofficially that we were picked up. So that was a hell of a nice little present. 
7. We all watch your “war of words” with Tory during Colony live-tweets.  You have 9 months to prepare for the next battle – any new weapons you may have for your arsenal when S3 arrives?
    PJ:     7. I’m glad for Tory that he will have nine months to prepare for yet another twitter ass whupping. Sarah told me that apparently he and his agents were recently lobbying the network to delay the season three premiere until March, so that he can have a little more time to get ready for me. That’s how bad it is for him. I’m obviously not worried.
8. Snyder sometimes seems surprised by how bad some things really are/really get in the bloc. (Greatest Day is fake, Total Rendition, etc)  Is he more innocent when it comes to this or is he more in denial when it comes to these realities?
    PJ:    8. While I don’t think Snyder is at all innocent or naive, I also don’t think he’s unrealistic or in denial. This crazy world he woke up into has been one long stream of shock and awe. And he has repeatedly not only survived, but thrived. Snyder is a smart and sneaky little devil; and so when the next surprise hits, i think he will be just as perceptive and calculating as he’s already been. He’ll keep his eyes wide open, see all the angles, and he’ll do whatever he has to do… to help himself.
9. Tell us.  How did it REALLY feel sending Nolan to the Factory?

     PJ:   9. Sending Nolan to the factory felt quite pleasant. 

I don’t think Snyder is a basically vengeful and malicious person at all. But when he feels he’s been wronged, he will act accordingly. I think it’s fair to say that Nolan screwed him. So Nolan got screwed in return. It made sense. A+B=C. And for that brief post-Nolan moment before Total Rendition was ordered, the LA Bloc was probably better off. In the first Nolan/Snyder scene in the second to last episode, Snyder said something very true: He wants what he has always wanted – to help the bloc… (and help himself).
10. Does Snyder have any regrets?
  PJ:    10. Well, the easy answer is, of course, ‘No regrets.’ And I could make a case for that. But the truth is that what I love most about Snyder, and what I think makes him such an interesting person and so much fun to play, is that of course he HAS regrets. He’s never been a first class, cold blooded villain. He’s more of a second class, conflicted villain. That’s what I love most about him. My point is that Snyder is so obviously human. And I find it endlessly interesting to explore and peel away all of the many contradicting layers that the writers have provided for me and for the audience. Snyder makes me love being an actor.