From THE O.C. to the CIA? Suffice to say, if anyone is capable of making the jump from the posh enclave of Orange County to the slight-more dangerous hallways of the CIA’s Department of Clandestine Services, it’s Peter Gallagher. Who, after successfully surviving four seasons of dealing with the likes of Julie Cooper-Nichol, various not-so-real housewives of Orange County and the occasional impromptu fight club on THE OC is ready for anything. Which is why the actor formerly known as Sandy Cohen (aka: One of our all-time favorite fictional fathers) now finds himself in Toronto, Canada on the set of USA’s latest spy thriller COVERT AFFAIRS, where he was kind enough to take a break to squeeze in a few minutes to talk to reporters [via phone] about his exciting new role, what he brings to the table and of course THE OC.
What attracted you to COVERT AFFAIRS?
Peter Gallagher: Very simply, I wanted to work with Doug Liman and Dave Bartis again. Doug Liman directed the pilot episode of THE OC and he and Dave were producers on the first season of THE OC. I just love these guys, I love the way they tell stories and most importantly, I like the people they are. In my experience, when the people at the top of an organization are people you respect and you like then chances are they’re going to surround themselves with other people that you feel the same way about. And you know what? That’s exactly what happened. Plus, I like the way they tell stories, because they’re powerful storytellers and they like to have the story they tell find a place in the world we live in.
What do you as an actor bring to the role?
Well, you know, I kind of bring 30-plus years of experience and I approach it like I approach every part I play. I mean, fortunately, I still love what I do and I still try to do it pretty well. I read the scripts. I try and understand what the character is really expressing. I mean I created sort of a back story for myself in the character. It may or may not have any bearing on what’s revealed, but I imagined Arthur Campbell as having been a Navy pilot, which is a tradition in the CIA. I think the first director was a Navy officer, a Navy Admiral. So, somebody who had experienced all sorts – has experience on the ground in the military and in the Agency and so it might be an interesting foil for maybe future episodes with bureaucrats or politicians, who don’t have that kind of experience, but that’s all happening in my head. But that’s the kind of thing that you layer and you build and you have sort of a specific kind of – because the truth is you don’t really know that much, so you kind of sketch it in and you have good directors to tell you when you’re way off the mark or somewhere in the ballpark.
One of the most interesting aspects about your character of Arthur Campbell is that he works with his wife. What’s your relationship like with Kari Matchett on and off-screen?
You know what? I just met Kari on this and she’s really lovely and we have a great time. You know what’s exciting about these scenes is I have to credit [Writers] Matthew and Chris, Matthew Corman and Chris Ord, and Dougie and Dave for being interested, even just marginally interested in that kind of a story line. I kind of liken it to THE SOPRANOS where you have all of the regular issues of home life and problems and marriage and so on, but what you do for a living is a little different, so when we screw up we not only could get divorced, but people could die or the national security could be compromised, so it adds sort of an additional kind of bit of tension to the relationship. We’re having fun. I mean the way I see it is they are both effective agents in the field. I was a former Navy pilot and they have a good time. I think it’s kind of a great relationship and so we’ll see if the creators and the audience agree with us; otherwise, who knows what will happen.
Obviously there are may questions swirling after having had the chance to watch the first episode. That said, the big question we’re sure everybody wants answers is how long do we have to wait until you sing on the show?
Well, don’t hold your breath. But you never know. Listen, do you know what’s funny? Nothing would surprise me about what Matthew and Chris and Doug and Dave and their extraordinary writers might come up with. But I know it will be credible. I know they all came to see me do my own live show where I sang and told stories about working in the business, so they know that I do that kind of thing, so anything is possible, but I wouldn’t hold my breath!
Let me preface my question by just letting you know, because I’m not sure if you’re aware, Melinda Clarke, your former OC co-star is actually in Toronto shooting a CW Show, Nikita. Begging the question, with the production having such close ties to your former show, has there been any talk of an OC reunion of sorts on the show?
Anything is possible. I love them all, so I hope so. It’s up to them, I guess, or up to Covert Affairs. I mean I’m just hoping the Covert Affairs cast will continue to be on Covert Affairs. I mean we had a pretty good run with The O.C., so now we’ve got to give birth to Covert Affairs and then we’ll see. I want to see Sandy Cohen from THE O.C. be Arthur Campbell for a little while longer too. That would be good.
Don’t miss the series premiere of COVERT AFFAIRS this July 13 at 10PM on USA Network