Los Angeles may still be the center of the entertainment industry. But when Jesse Metcalfe recognized the pandemic-fueled shift toward working remotely—even for in-demand Hollywood actors—he decided to make the move from the City of Angels (where he’s lived for the past 23 years) to the Magic City.
“The pandemic and lockdown changed the entertainment industry,” says Metcalfe. “With Zoom, Skype, and other ways to communicate, you don’t have to live in Los Angeles anymore.” Metcalfe moved into his new two-bedroom penthouse on Brickell Avenue in January and says the payoff has been worth the cross-country trek. “I am loving Miami,” he confesses.
Relishing his new views of the bay and skyline, Metcalfe took January off to renovate his digs and settle into the city. But (lucky for him) he has a wealth of upcoming acting roles on his plate to turn to—shifting a career that started with soap operas and scandalous liaisons into a serious body of character-based work.
Finding a Passion
Like many successful people in showbiz, Metcalfe kicked off his career studying acting and film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 1999, he took on the role of Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald on NBC’s daytime drama Passions—a gig where Metcalfe says he “learned how to act” and “grew up” on the job.
There was to be more passion to come—this time in the form of a clandestine relationship on the ABC hit series Desperate Housewives. Sparks flew on-screen between Metcalfe’s teenage heartthrob gardener (John Rowland) and Eva Longoria’s lonely trophy wife (Gabrielle Solis). Their instant chemistry—plus a healthy dose of Metcalfe’s good looks and acting chops—made him a household name, nearly overnight. Even the critics took notice: Metcalfe was honored with the 2005 Young Hollywood Award for Exciting New Face and was nominated for two Teen Choice Awards.
That exposure launched Metcalfe from the small screen to the big one. In 2006, he was cast in his first major film role as the title character in the cult-classic teen comedy John Tucker Must Die, co-starring with Ashanti, Sophia Bush, Brittany Snow, and Jenny McCarthy. Three years later, he starred with Michael Douglas and Amber Tamblyn in a remake of the 1956 classic film Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, and opposite Erika Christensen in 2010’s The Tortured.
When Desperate Housewives ended its run, Metcalfe returned to television, joining the cast of TNT’s remake of the 1980s hit prime-time drama series Dallas.
These days, however, Metcalfe is more about the beef than the buzz—admitting he’s looking for roles that let him delve deeply into characters. He recently got that chance on a film starring Dennis Quaid and Heather Graham. On a Wing and a Prayer (with a release date planned for August) is a faith-friendly feature film that’s based on a true story about a pair of airline pilots.
Mixing drama and action, he also returns in the second installment of the Fortress trilogy this year alongside Chad Michael Murray and Bruce Willis (Metcalfe plays the son of the veteran actor, who announced his retirement from acting in March). This marks Metcalfe’s third movie with Willis, having partnered with him on last year’s action-thriller Hard Kill.
Television is still an important part of Metcalfe’s repertoire, too. A staple star on the Hallmark Channel, he’s appeared in holiday-themed romance movies like Christmas Under the Stars, had a five-season run on the network’s wildly popular drama Chesapeake Shores, and led the television-film series Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries, where Metcalfe plays a retired detective trying to move forward from his troubled past. “I love Hallmark,” he says. “They have been great to me.”
No matter the genre or venue, what Metcalfe craves these days is working with like-minded people, noting that he wants to feel good about his storytelling and have his own creative ideas honored in the scripts he takes on. “One of the most important elements in my career now is to work with people who want to achieve a balance between art and commerce,” he says.
Next up? Getting more involved with the television and film industry on a larger scale. “I want to produce movies,” Metcalfe says. He recently got that chance, both starring in and executive producing Ships in the Night, the latest installment in Hallmark’s Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries.
“I want to get a sense of being involved in everything from start to finish. An actor can get frustrated because he can’t see to the finish,” he says. “I need to be okay with the storytelling. I want to create an arc that is realistic. And I like to bring emotion to my lines. As an actor, creator, and producer, I want to move people.”
Trying on New Talents
Music may just be one of those methods of movement, as Metcalfe is passionate about singing, songwriting, and playing guitar. He’s dabbled in mixing and matching music and acting, but he says that he’s newly interested in turning up the volume on his specific combo of skills. “I like music in movies, and I love to play music as a hobby,” he says. “I want to incorporate music into my acting roles more.”
In his 2015 hit Hallmark romance-drama A Country Wedding with Autumn Reeser, Metcalfe showcased his singing and guitar-playing talents in the role of a superstar country singer returning to his Texas hometown. And on the newly rebranded GAC Family Channel (formerly known as Great American Country)—an outlet that has been making waves among fans of the kind of family rom-com programs that Hallmark made popular—Metcalfe starred in a recent Valentine’s Day film that gave him an opportunity to both act and show off his musical skills. In Harmony from the Heart, costarring Jessica Lowndes, Metcalfe plays a heart surgeon with a musical streak. Lowndes wrote both the script and two of the songs for the movie, and the storyline offered her and Metcalfe the chance to sing together on-screen.
Metcalfe will have plenty of time to pursue passion projects in his new Miami home. But when you’re on the go as much as he is, the key to keeping it all together is living a healthy lifestyle—which he says is easy to adopt here in South Florida.
“I like the idea that fitness is at the forefront of life here,” he says. “Los Angeles can be healthy, but Miami is better for me now.”
Metcalfe says his new hometown has a vibe that encourages him to do his utmost to look and feel good. To keep active and fit, he exercises five or six days a week with cardio, light weightlifting, and yoga. Plus, there’s always the beach—where Metcalfe can be spotted playing in the waves with his pit bull/schnoodle mix named Bowie. “He is in heaven at the beach,” Metcalfe says. “He really likes it here in Miami, so I am a happy dog dad.”
Score that as two new and happy Miamians. “The city is beautiful, and for me, it is a breath of fresh air after so many years in Los Angeles,” Metcalfe says. “It is growing in sophistication and has so many diverse areas. I am looking forward to discovering everything it has to offer.”
Photographer: Tolga Kavut
Location: Miami Beach
Hair and makeup: Deborah Koepper, Deborah Koepper Beauty, Palm Beach