Peter Gallagher has appeared in such memorable roles from Sandy Cohen in The O.C. to John in Sex, Lies and Videotape. The actor is also known for a vast array of Broadway roles such as Sondheim’s Company and an all male a cappella group called the Beezlebubs.
He recently visited the windy city to host a storytelling event at the Chicago History Museum and talked Cher, video games and Affairs.
Jerry Nunn: Hi, Peter. What are you up to these days?
Peter Gallagher: I have been filming the second season of USA’s Covert Affairs up in snowy Toronto.
JN: Yes, you play CIA Director Arthur Cambell. How is that going?
PG: It is going great. First of all to even have a second season and personally because they asked me back! It is a great bunch of people produced by Doug Liman and David Bartis, people I had met on the first season of The O.C. I had always wanted to work with them again. Our cast is great, Piper Perabo…
JN: I love her!
PG: Also, Sendhil Ramamurthy. It has great writers and crew. We shipped our cars up there and my poor little Prius was battling its way through the snow yesterday and getting blown around. It was a lot of fun to be in the great frozen north.
JN: Oh no! Well, you are safe in Chicago now.
PG: I am happy to be back. I saw this event in New York and it is really cool. I was very happy that they asked me.
JN: How did you get involved with A More Perfect Union: Stories of Prejudice and Power?
PG: Mostly because it is sponsored by USA and The Moth. I am working for USA right now and so I was invited to attend in New York. To see how the whole thing works out. They asked me to host here in Chicago.
JN: It hass talented people telling their stories about discrimination, correct?
PG: Yes, it is a multi city tour that has gone around the nation. The Moth is a nonprofit organization that specializes in the art and craft of storytelling. In this case it is coordinated with USA’s efforts in the Characters Unite tour to combat discrimination and support tolerance and respect. I believe in the power of storytelling and have for years. It is something that brings us together. Especially when there are so many examples in politics and business where stories can be used to divide us. These particular stories are well told and bring us together. It is a powerful thing and creates an environment where prejudice, fear and ignorance can’t survive in at least for a moment. So I am happy to be contributing.
JN: Let’s talk about this huge career of yours.
PG: I just won’t quit! No matter what they say I don’t give up.
JN: I just saw you in Burlesque.
PG: There you go! That was with my old pal Cher. She was my date twenty years ago in The Player.
JN: I forgot about that!
PG: Oh my god, it’s a riot. Are you kidding?
JN: She still looks the same. How does that happen?
PG: It’s a miracle. You know what? That is exactly as it should be. She is just as real, beautiful and as funny as ever.
JN: I really enjoyed that movie.
PG: You know what was cool too? Denise Faye, who was the assistant for choreography on Chicago and Nine, was the choreographer on this and was one of my Hot Box Girls on Broadway in Guys and Dolls. She played Mimi and had the only line of any of the Hot Box Girls. It was very exciting to be on a movie set twenty years later and watching her choreograph these unbelievable numbers. This was a terrific cast of people from the theatre and the movies. It was a great set to be on.
JN: You have done so many musicals. Do you want to do more?
PG: Yeah, I love singing. I started off doing that and with any luck I will be able to do more.
JN: Did you study acting in school?
PG: You know I didn’t. I studied acting independently my whole life. My last acting teacher just died a few years ago and I studied with her for twenty-five years. I studied music a little bit in college but I got an economics degree, which was a wise thing for me because it reassured me that I had absolutely no aptitude for it or for business. So I rushed headlong to Broadway. I still study singing. You would think after all these years that I would figure it out!
JN: I read on Wikipedia that you are a big video game person.
PG: That is not true. That is another Peter Gallagher that they have mixed up. My son was a big video game person when he was younger.
JN: We have to set the record straight!
PG: You can’t believe everything. You read things like that sometimes and you think, “okay why not?” “I wasn’t born there but that’s okay!”
JN: So you are not into video games.
PG: I am really not. I just can’t play them. I am not good at them at all.
JN: You have a new movie coming out Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You.
PG: Yes, it is a great book by Peter Cameron. It is about a young boy coming of age starring Toby Regbo. He is a beautiful kid and acted in Harry Potter. He plays my son who is 17 turning 18 and figuring out what he is all about. Marcia Gay Harden plays his mother and we are divorced. Ellen Burstyn is in it and Lucy Liu. It is directed by Roberto Faenza from a lovely script and is a real indie. We shot it in New York.
JN: When does it come out?
PG: We are going to find out very soon, in the next couple of weeks, I think.
JN: Any other projects that you have coming up?
PG: I might be doing another movie in June and I will be doing this series though October. But I think I can sneak out and do a few other things. I still do my little one-man show that I did at the Drury Lane here in Chicago last year. I just did it in Santa Monica recently. I keep rewriting it and will be at a few performing arts centers coming up. I am just keeping it all going on!