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TV's Coolest Dad

TV's Coolest DadAfter a career of playing nefarious characters, Tufts graduate Peter Gallagher has taken on a different role – the charitable father on one of television’s hottest new dramas. Hollywood.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [06.26.04] Viewers tuning in Fox's latest teen hit "The O.C." will see a familiar face - Tufts graduate and internationally-known actor Peter Gallagher. Called "TV's hottest new drama" by Cox News, Gallagher's show has earned rave reviews from fans and critics alike - and elevated the Tufts graduate from respected character actor to prime time sensation.

"It was never an ambition of mine to become a household name," Gallagher told the new magazine Best Life, which featured the Tufts graduate on the cover of its debut issue. "What I have always loved is that throughout my career, people have always responded to different roles that I have done. In Europe people think of me as Sky Masterson in ‘Guys and Dolls.' But the TV show is a whole different animal in terms of size of awareness. What it has done is quietly assure my fans over the years that it is cool to like me."

Those old enough to remember the 90's teen TV drama "90210" might draw some easy comparisons to Fox's Wednesday night hit "The. O.C." - wealthy Californians rich with problems. But unlike its predecessor, "The O.C." focuses as much on the parents as the kids.

In fact, Gallagher was the first person cast in the drama, playing a public defender who takes in a troubled teen. Gallagher calls his character on the hit show "more like me than any character I've ever played."

Already a hit with its loyal fan base, his performance has resonated way beyond the show's core audience. Inspired by his role's virtues, UC Berkeley's Boalt Law School recently created a fellowship named after Gallagher's character - to which the Tufts graduate contributed $1,000.

"Students at the California law school were so taken with the do-good liberalism of Sandy Cohen, Peter Gallagher's character on Fox's ‘The O.C.,' that they created a fellowship encouraging classmates to pursue careers as public defenders," reported Newsday.

The Tufts graduate, who also received the Arthur Liman Media Award for his promotion of social justice on the show, says it's a far cry from the edgy roles which have comprised much of his career - including a real estate tycoon in "American Beauty" and the notorious lawyer in "Sex, Lies and Videotape."

"People had great antipathy for me because of that character," Gallagher told Best Life. "I was having lunch at a café in Santa Monica years ago just after ‘Sex, Lies and Videotape', and Sean Penn was there and came over to me and said, ‘Hey, I just wanted to meet the one guy in Hollywood who is hated more than me.'"

Gallagher (who told Best Life he is entering "the prime years of my personal and creative life") says he is proud of his varied career.

"I always enjoyed those manipulative, nefarious characters," the Tufts graduate said. "Let's face it, when you're the third guy from the left, it's great being the bad guy. You are absolutely crucial to the story. They can't cut you out, because nothing happens without you."

Gallagher - who met his wife of 21 years while an undergraduate at Tufts - says he feels lucky to have had the opportunity to play a diverse assortment of characters.

"What I love about my career is that it is still evolving," Gallagher told Best Life. "I really do feel that the work that I will be proudest of in the end is still in front of me."

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