Peter Facinelli has his three daughters with Jennie Garth to thank for the inspiration behind "Accidentally in Love," the romantic Valentine's Day tale he wrote for his wife of 10 years.
"I originally wrote this script for maybe me and my wife to play it, but then I got a little busy. I was doing press on ['The Twilight Saga:] Eclipse' at the time it was shooting, and I had no time to act in the film," Peter says. "I also worried that this would become the Jennie Garth/Peter Facinelli movie instead of a film with two characters. Our playing together could have detracted from the believability of the story and become a distraction. So I took a step back and let my wife kiss someone else."
So as Jennie locked lips with her hunky co-star Ethan Erickson, Peter, who wanted to see his script successfully translated to the screen, was rooting for them.
"As actors we have to put ourselves in that position all the time," Jennie says about the kiss. "Those kinds of love scenes or kissing scenes are always weird and uncomfortable, but you just have to go for it."
"Accidentally in Love" stars Jennie as Annie, a struggling waitress, widow and single mom, whose daughter Taylor (Dannika Northcott) is losing her eyesight as a result of a degenerative condition. When Annie and Eddie (Erickson) meet cute -- a car accident -- it turns out that he is the actor inside a bunny suit on Annie's favorite show, "Mulligan the Rabbit." Of course, he doesn't reveal that right away.
Annie works in a Western-themed restaurant, so the outfit she has to wear to work is not the most flattering, with its many-petticoat layers under a short skirt. So how could Peter do that to her?
"It was supposed to be a really cute little waitress outfit, which I was really excited about," Jennie tells ETonline. "An old-style waitress outfit. But then they changed the location. The producers and director found a location they wanted to use. Then they changed it into a Western thing and I was mortified. Sometimes we have to wear crazy clothes."
For his part, Peter says the first kernel of an idea for "Accidentally in Love" came to him one Easter when he dressed up in a bunny suit for his daughters -- Luca, Lola, and Fiona (pictured above with her dad) -- and was miserable.
"I hopped around the yard like crazy while the girls looked out the window of our house for eggs," he recalls. "And I was just in hell. It was hot. I was sweaty. It totally sucked. And I thought, 'I wonder what the guy who has to be in that Barney suit all day feels like?'"
So he sat down to write the story about a children's TV show actor, who has classic training and is just trying to get his big break, but in the meantime supports himself wearing the bunny suit and hating it.
Peter stuck the script in the drawer for a few years, but recently gave it to a director friend, David Burton Morris, who took it to the Hallmark Channel -- and the rest is history. It is the first thing that he has written that actually got produced.
But Peter, who in addition to playing Dr. Carlisle Cullen in 'The Twight Saga' stars as Dr. Fitch Cooper on Showtime's "Nurse Jackie," isn't giving up his day job any time soon to become a fulltime writer. The Facinelli family lives in California, so Peter is often separated from his wife and kids traveling to meet his acting commitments.
"Unfortunately, we are not able to make a rule, but we do our best not to have more than two weeks go by without seeing each other," Jennie says. "It gets harder the more time spent away. It is really hard for the girls. He comes back just as often as he can, sometimes every weekend."
Their desire to make their separations as infrequent as possible is part of what makes them work as a couple, but it is more than that. According to Jennie it is the work that they put into their marriage.
"When things aren't right, we try to make them better," she says. "You have to put in the work when you are married. We have a lot of laughs together and I think that is a good cure-all."
"Accidentally in Love" debuts on Saturday, Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. on the Hallmark Channel.