COVERT AFFAIRS: Peter Gallagher Previews His Role in the New Spy Series (2010)


On a recent conference call, when asked what drew him to the role of Arthur Campbell, the Director of the Clandestine Service Department at the CIA in the new series “Covert Affairs,” Peter Gallagher revealed that it was because he wanted to work with Doug Liman and Dave Bartis again. Having worked with both Doug and Dave on the FOX teenage angst sensation “The O.C.,” Peter leapt at the chance to be a part of their next break-out series. He gushed, “I just love these guys. I love the way they tell stories . . . because they’re powerful storytellers and they like to have the story [tell something amazing about] the world we live in.”Peter also appreciates the amount of dedication and time that Doug and Dave as producers are willing to put into the show and explained, “We’re essentially making a movie every week. I mean it’s real. . . . Doug is very involved. . . Dave is very involved. Nobody is doing this in their spare time . . . they’re committed,” which results in some great action for this new series. It is their combined wisdom and knowledge that makes “Cover Affairs” one of the most adrenaline-pumping shows on television.

Peter was also just as complimentary about working with the USA Network, crediting it with providing so much freedom that it fosters creative energy. He elaborated by stating, “The people at the top of an organization pretty well define the organization . . . which is why I wanted to be in business with Doug Liman and Dave Bartis . . . [and] because I admire them and I respect them and I trust them — there’s nothing more fun than working with people that you feel that way about — that’s when good work happens . . . I have to credit USA for creating that environment [and] I have to credit Doug and Dave for creating that environment and for USA allowing them to create that environment.”

While not entirely sure yet himself how his character fits into the overall puzzle, Peter felt that because his character Arthur Campbell has just become aware of this very valuable asset played by Piper Perabo, she has his full attention. Regarding his character and the role he plays, Peter commented, “I love it because I think there are a million places Arthur could go. I like the whole work situation. There’s a great relationship with Kari [Matchett] . . . that develops [and] I’m hoping I’ll have things to do with Piper.” Peter is clearly excited to be working with co-star Kari Matchett, who plays Arthur’s wife, for he enthusiastically shared, “I just met Kari on this and she’s really lovely and we have a great time. . . We’re having fun. . . it’s kind of a great relationship.”

As with any new show, so much of the characters’ lives and history have not yet been written, but Peter is confident that he is playing the coolest character on the show. He loved that in the pilot he and Kari, playing their respective characters Arthur and Joan, both CIA agents had to undergo therapy session. As Peter explained, “the cool thing, the amazing thing is . . . apparently, in the CIA they encourage their agents to marry each other because you can’t talk to anybody who’s not in the agency about what you do. You can’t even talk about everything that you do with somebody else in the agency. So what they have is when people do get married, they actually have in-house marriage counselors that have been vetted and received security clearance . . . so it’s a pretty interesting dynamic in that here are these two CIA agents, who are accustomed to dissembling or trying to find out the truth . . and they’re married . . . it’s a pretty unique situation.”

As to how Peter feels about the actual CIA, he was just as generous in his praise, “I really know nothing about the CIA. I’ve always read about it. I’ve always been fascinated with it. I always think I have a couple of friends that are in it, but of course, they can never tell me.” Peter was a bit tongue and cheek about that last part, but he was absolutely serious that he had great respect for the CIA and if he were called to help his country, he would not hesitate to do his part.

While all the show’s storylines have not yet been written that has not stopped Peter from coming up with his own ideas about where Arthur Campbell is coming from and what he has gone through. Peter shared, “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 of Arthur Campbell [as having] a very strong sense of duty. I think he’s an ex-military, ex-Naval officer, a pilot. . . so he has a military background [and] a great sense of service.” Peter also felt that when Arthur was recruited into the CIA he became saddled with the changing times and thus feels it is his responsibility to bring the agency into modern time and to be more consistent with where the world is and is becoming right now.

Interestingly, when asked if Arthur was a strictly by-the-book kind of guy or more of a rogue who would do what was necessary to get the job done, Peter said, “He’s definitely not a bureaucrat. I think with his military background . . . he’s a good leader [but] he’s not for blindly following rules if the greater goal is going to be compromised. So it’s a juggling act. . . [he has] a really strong sense of duty. I think he honestly believes that what he does is important. . . he’s very patriotic.” He further commented, “I think he cares a lot for the country and I think he cares a lot for the people under him. I think that’s what gets him out of bed. I think he honestly believes that what he does and what the Agency does is important and that, like all large organizations, it’s not perfect and he likes the challenge.”

Regarding the show itself and why Peter feels it is different from the other spy dramas currently on television, he revealed, “It’s just the kind of magic that when something works — it’s very hard to attribute the reasons why it does. . . . it [has] to do with the fact that there’s something that happens among the group of people in front of the camera [and] something happens among the group of people behind the camera. When we’re lucky, I call it the ‘beast lumbering to its feet.’ If the story starts to feel alive, if it embodies the kind of wit and the performances feel real and identifiable, then . . .it’s going to be engaging. It’s going to be compelling.” For him, “Covert Affairs” has all those magical ingredients.

Peter also had only wonderful things to say about both Tim Matheson, who directed the pilot, and his cast mates. He glowingly shared that he thought the cast was “really bright and really funny and really generous.” And with his final words of praise, ‘”It’s a great set to be on — a great crew too!” Peter is counting down the days until the rest of the world can fall in love with this amazing show too.

Be sure to tune in for the “Covert Affairs” premiere on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 10:00 p.m. on USA Network.

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