Covert Affairs Star Peter Gallagher Interview On Bringing The Spy To Life

From Jason Bourne to James Bond, pop culture is always obsessed with the life of the spy and the secret inner workings of the CIA. Each week, Covert Affairs brings a human face to the secretive agency thanks to a cast led by Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly, Looper). With his booming bass voice and penetrating eyes, actor Peter Gallagher, best known from The O.C., brings to life CIA Director Arthur Campbell. Real Style caught up with Peter Gallagher while he was in Toronto for Fan Expo to chat about the upcoming season of Covert Affairs and bringing the spy world to life.

Real Style: Can you talk about some of the secrets being unveiled about your character has this season?

Peter Gallagher: I have a hard time describing them as big skeletons. I think Arthur and all of these characters have very interesting lives. Arthur was an F18 pilot and a navy flyer, then a military advisor and covert and had a lot of different careers. He was young , right out of Annapolis, in his first tour and a little love happened and a little tragedy happened. When you are a professional secret keeper it can make things complicated personally and professionally. We are seeing a little of that for all of the characters this season. I have a lot of fun stuff to do at the beginning of this season. I get in a little bit of trouble to get the stories going.

Real Style: The challenges of being married to someone who has also been in the business. How does that come into play this season?

Peter Gallagher: I love that part of the story. For me the one aspect of the story that I really like is that challenge. If we play our cards right, I would like Joan and Arthur to be a married couple that people totally identify with who have unusual day jobs. Is it hard to be married in the CIA? Yes. But apparently according to statistics it’s very hard to be married period, no matter what kind of job you are in. I would imagine it’s just even more complicated if you are in the CIA. A lot of people in the CIA seem to marry each other.

Real Style: You guys put the human face on the faceless though.

Peter Gallagher: We try to. Hopefully we are succeeding at it.

Related: Fan Expo 2013 Recap

Real Style: Is it difficult to bring a face to these agencies that you don’t know much about?

Peter Gallagher: It’s not that hard because we are doing it. Piper has been to Langley so she has seen a few things.  It’s what we do. Mike Nichols said something really interesting. He said that character is defined by occupation. There is truth to that. In terms of the variety of humanity, there are so many. We’ve all read books about the CIA. I just read Hank Crumpton’s book about the art of intelligence and life lessons. You realize how many different styles of agency personal there are with different areas of expertise and how important it is to have people who have different areas of expertise. I remember meeting with Allan Claim who was our technical advisor for the first year and thinking, ok there is no way. You can take to light know that there is a lot you don’t know.

Real Style: Is there anything you would like to see happen to Arthur?

Peter Gallagher: This season was very exciting because it was the first time that we ever heard anything about Arthur’s story or from his perspective. I’ve always loved Arthur’s backstory, mostly because I made it up. You have to make up something because you don’t have anything to go on other than what is on the page. It was gratifying to have scenes that had something to do with his story, especially at the beginning of the season. If that could happen again it would be nice.

Real Style: Do you think you would be a good spy in real life?

Peter Gallagher: No, I can’t shut up. I talk too much. Maybe I could do something well. I think I am a better actor than I am a spy. I wouldn’t want any lives depending upon my spying abilities.

In Canada, tune into Showcase tonight at 10 pm to watch the Covert Affairs season 4 premiere.

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