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An Interview with DB Sweeney (Peter, 'Crash')

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An Interview with DB Sweeney (Peter, 'Crash')
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
November 2008

Everyone has a set of movies they know by heart and for me, it has always been a wonderful figure skating movie called The Cutting Edge. Filmed in the early '90s, the film features some current television stars we know and love such as Moira Kelly ( One Tree Hill), Terry O'Quinn ( Lost) and DB Sweeney, who now plays Peter in the new Starz drama series Crash.

Over the years, DB Sweeney has played an incredible variety of characters that have done everything from being abducted by aliens (Fire in the Sky) to commanding a unit of relentless soldiers who terrorized the surviving post-nuclear towns on Jericho. This talented actor has also written, directed and produced another memorable film called Two Tickets to Paradise.

Over the years I have interviewed many fun and interesting actors, but it must be said that DB Sweeney is by far, the absolute nicest and most down to earth of them all. His gentle nature and great sense of humor made me that much more a fan of this accomplished actor.

Q: I understand that before you became an actor, you were on your way to becoming a baseball player, what made you decide to turn to acting?

DB Sweeney:
"I got injured when I was very young, I was only 18, so it's hard to tell how far I would've gone at that point. Maybe it was a good thing that it happened so early because I started acting almost right away, instead of starting up when I was 28 or something. All I had ever done besides play sports, was work and cook in a restaurant. When I was a senior in high school, I was in a play and I really enjoyed the experience. It was like High School Musical in a way -- we had this teacher named Jeff Bennett, who got all these jocks to come out for the musical."

Q: If acting hadn't worked out for you, what sort of career path would you have followed?

DB Sweeney:
"There are a lot of lawyers in my family, so I think I might have gone that way. I also mentioned that I did a lot of cooking, so maybe I would've become a chef. I started doing plays in New York right after I left Tulane University, where I went to play baseball and then transferred to NYU to be closer to home. I thought I'd do it [acting] for a year or two and I'd figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I didn't really expect it to become a career. I didn't know anyone in Hollywood or in the business, so it didn't seem like a possible path."

Q: As a fan of The Cutting Edge, I have to know -- how much of that skating did you actually perform?

DB Sweeney:
"I had a great double for the hockey scenes, his name is Brad Jansen. He came to fit me for some skates (he works for CCM) and I asked him if he plays hockey because they couldn't find anyone who looked like me to double me. He played some junior hockey, so in the wide shots, it's often Brad.

For the figure skating, I couldn't do any of those jumps; in fact, Moira broke her leg the first week of filming trying to land a single axle. So, Moira didn't do any skating in the movie and she had the greatest stunt double ever, this girl named Sharon Carz. Finding a stunt double for me for the figure skating was tough because the body type of the guys in figure skating tends to be big thighs, big butts and not much upper body. Not that I'm Arnold Schwarzenegger, but when we did that movie, I was in great shape.

None of the skaters they could find looked like me, so I wound up doing a lot more of the skating than they had anticipated. There are big chunks of it that were me, and some that were stunt doubles. Anytime they got a stunt double to double me in the figure skating, it was like the cursed position -- four guys got hurt."

Q: You've had so many poignant roles, is there any one that you hold nearest and dearest?

DB Sweeney:
"I'm really proud of The Cutting Edge because I know how hard it is to make romantic comedies work. There are a lot of really good actors who have gone down in flames trying to create what somebody once described as bubbles on champagne, something you can't put your finger on if it's not there.

Two other movies that are my favorite are Eight Men Out, because of my baseball background and Lonesome Dove, it was a great piece of material and I had a great character."

Q: On Jericho, you played the evil John Goetz, how does a nice guy such as yourself get into this type of character?

DB Sweeney:
"It's always fun to do something different and to play people who are different than yourself. After The Cutting Edge, every athletic role that came up, I was on the list of people they would look at. Everyone gets typecast to some extent. From Hannibal Lechter through the history of movies, some of the best roles are the bad guys, so I was excited to get the chance to do that. We all have a little darkness inside us that I think can be harnessed."

Q: Currently, you star in the TV series Crash, for those who haven't seen the movie, could you explain the premise?

DB Sweeney:
"Crash is about present-day Los Angeles and LA is a different city than New York or Chicago in that it's segregated by class, race, religion, sexual orientation, all the groups tend to have their own little pockets. You really only see these people when you pass them in your car or colliding with them in your car. It's a literal and figurative metaphor for a city where you have all these people in a close proximity who are isolated from each other. The movie depicts these collisions that happen and the misunderstandings between these groups because they live in separate worlds.

The TV show takes up that theme with different characters. I play a guy who is a real estate developer, and lives in one of the wealthier areas of town. He's overextended; he's borrowed money from his father-in-law and the sub prime mortgage crisis hits. He has a real bad cash situation and he's desperate to remain solvent."

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