December 5, 2003
Let's go back, waaaaaaay back, to those days of yore ("the days of my what now?") we call "adolescence." The days that have suddenly gotten a lot more yore-ish, now that I'm thirty, actually (thanks for all the birthday wishes, by the way, y'all!). The days of high school. The days of sullenness, British pop, and plastic shoes. The days of sneaking into movies with pizzas hidden under your jackets and a bottle of Dr. Pepper down one pants leg. The days when a really entertaining night involved at least an hour of driving around in circles hooting things out the car window at your friends. The days of listening to one song over and over while you wrote depressing things in your journal. The days of copying other people's homework. The days of rolling your eyes every time your parents opened their mouths. Or, more accurately, the days when you actually thought "the face that launched a thousand ships" was a reference to your DAD'S face and that the ships in question were launching because they knew if they didn't get the heck outta Dodge, they were going to be keelhauled or, worse, grounded for the weekend. Man, remember that face? My Mom could do it too.
Ah, but most memorably, those were the days of crushes that completely dominated everything in your life, every waking thought you had. Crushes which lasted approximately. . .well, approximately one week, actually. Hey, wait a minute. . . Yeah, I guess it's true what they say: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Anyway, you know if I'm talking about high school that can only mean one thing -- "The O.C." series is back! I've decided I want to start each write-up about an O.C. Boy with an anecdote about high school, just to keep a theme tracking all through them. Plus, it seems appropriate to reminisce that I'm officially 30-something. (Well, I guess I'm actually 30-nothing, but, hey, close enough.) However, because I've skipped all but one of the young guys on "The O.C." and jumped straight to the Dad, my only relevant high school anecdote is this:
When I was in high school, there were absolutely NO dads around who looked like Peter Gallagher. I never had a single crush on a dad. I never had a single crush on anybody older than about 17, actually (not counting people like Val Kilmer and George Clooney. Yes, I said George Clooney -- remember that old comedy "E/R"? Not to be confused with the current drama "ER," which was not on TV when I was a teenager? I loved that show!). Well, I guess that might not be entirely true -- my Dad had an XO once who had the bluest eyes I'd ever seen, and I admired them from a distance more than once. But even in that case I wouldn't say it was really a crush. I mean, whenever I saw him, I thought, "DANG, those are some blue EYES on that guy!" But I never thought, "DANG, what I wouldn't give for five minutes alone in a coat closet with that guy!" Cuz, like, he worked with my DAD, and you just don't get any more "ew" than that.
Yeah, I know. It's not much of an anecdote, I realize. But it's the truth nonetheless. No Peter Gallagher dads when I was in high school. And, for that matter, no Peter Gallagher or even Peter-Gallagher-esque crushes whatsoever. However, this is not to say that I didn't know who Peter Gallagher was at the time. Because I did see him in "sex, lies, and videotape" when I was in the ninth grade (snuck in with a friend because we were insanely in love with James Spader at the time). But the truth is, I thought that movie was insanely boring when I first saw it. Who the heck cares about a bunch of miserable, sexually frustrated grown-ups? All I wanted was to see James Spader nekkid, and he's the only one in the movie who doesn't have sex!
At the time, though, I didn't know Peter Gallagher from Copernicus. Which is not to say that Pete completely escaped my notice that day (note: I didn't notice Copernicus until much later, but I'm really only using Copernicus as a comparative here because I so enjoy saying the word "Copernicus." Copernicus Copernicus Copernicus -- see? It's fun!). I mean, Petey doesn't exactly play the most sympathetic character in that movie, but there was just something about. . .those. . .EYEBROWS. . .that really made him stand out to me at the time. Because they're just so. . .
Yes, it's true, it's true, it's time for me to confess to another vain bias -- eyebrows that are so overpoweringly out of control that they practically take on a life of their own just give me the heebs. I can't stop looking at them. They are all-consuming like no high school crush ever has been. I keep expecting them to speak up or start wiggling around looking for a leaf to nibble on, and I become mesmerized and distracted. In fact, eyebrows like that start to seem like independent entities stuck onto someone's face. And that's why, when I see eyebrows like that, I simply cannot resist the urge to give them names. For Peter's, I was going to use the names "Bert and Ernie" because, ha ha, so funny. But the truth is, I already named Jennifer Connelly's eyebrows that. So, instead, I've dubbed Pete's partners "Ways and Means." Somehow, it seems appropriate. Don't ask me to explain why, though, because I'm actually just making all this up as I go along (Copernicus, Copernicus, Copernicus!)
Anyway, for years, every time I saw Peter Gallagher, I thought to myself, "My God, somebody tighten up the budget on the Ways and Means ASAP because that committee is OUT OF CONTROL!" However, lately things have changed. Either I've changed and have just become numb to the committee's incredible hirsuitness, or the committee itself has become slightly less obtrusive. Now that I think about it, though, it seems likely that those two things are one and the same -- I've fallen madly in crush with the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means himself, Mr. Peter Gallagher (D-Orange County), and as a result, I've begun to focus on the big smile and goofy laugh that emanate from the southern hemisphere of his face instead of the two caterpillars that live up north.
It's also possible that someone finally recommended that Peter rein those puppies in, but you won't really notice much of a difference unless you do what I've done, which is to sit down with about 6 of his movies and compare geometric statistics. Pause movie, grab ruler. Ah, 2cm by 8cm. Check. Next? Pause. Oh HO, 1.8cm by 8cm -- Petey's discovered wax treatments!
After a little while, though, I confess that I quit measuring and just started paying attention instead. Never cared much for geometry anyway, and there were quite a few of his movies I'd never seen before. Of the movies I rented, there are three that really stood out, for a variety of reasons, not all of them good. Here's the skinny:
The first, "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday," is a haunting story about a man, David Lewis, whose beautiful wife died two years ago in a boating accident. Since then, he's been living in the family beach house, where he last spent time with her, slowly falling apart while his teenage daughter (played by Claire Danes) struggles to hold him together. The movie takes place over a single weekend -- the weekend of Gillian's 37th birthday -- and it is that weekend that it is discovered that David spends almost every night outside on the beach talking and swimming with his dead wife. In his head. The wife's sister and her husband have come to talk about taking the daughter away, because Pete is just so far off his rocker that the daughter just can't handle it anymore. But by the end of the weekend, Pete's character has finally realized that he has to let go of the dead, and get back to the land of the living.
It sounds really depressing, and it is. But because it's Peter Gallagher, it is not a film without a quirky sense of humor. Case in point, his character's entry into the sandcastle-building contest, which made me laugh out loud. And, as if that weren't appealing enough, it's also just a really darn good movie. I greatly enjoyed it, and didn't turn it off feeling all bummed out, but instead feeling like I'd actually spent the last two hours doing something good.
The next movie I watched was "White Mile," an older made-for-television movie about a bunch of execs on a white water rafting trip. I love white water rafting disaster movies, so I loved this one and I definitely recommend it. It wasn't easy for me to track this film down, though, so you may have to dig around a bit. I think I've seen it crop up on cable before, but not recently -- start paying attention.
Finally, and here's where things turned sour, there was "The Underneath," another film by Steven Soderbergh (director of "sex, lies and videotape"). This one is just gosh-darn-awful, you guys. It's obviously Soderbergh's extremely misguided attempt at "film noir," but it actually turned out to be more akin to "film neurotic boringness." However, regardless of the miserable plot and annoying construction, Pete looks great in it, and you also get to see his butt. Nekkid. Points back!
We can't wrap up a discussion of Pete's movies so quickly, however, because there are a number of films he's made that I didn't rent because I'd already seen them, and some of them are well-worth mentioning. In the interest of getting this write-up up, though, I'll keep this relatively short. First, there's "Malice," a terrific thriller that I heartily recommend (especially since it also features ex-Boyfriend Bill Pullman and future Boyfriend Alec Baldwin). And speaking of Bill, there's the cute romantic comedy "While You Were Sleeping," in which Pete plays a guy in a coma. Brilliant acting, by the way -- I really thought he was in a coma. Genius. Nothing short of sheer GENIUS.
Then there're "Short Cuts" and "American Beauty," both of which I love, and "House on Haunted Hill," which I also love, but which is very, very bad. Although if you pay attention in the beginning, you do get to see Spike play a terrified cameraman. That is not without some mainstream appeal.
And, of course, you absolutely cannot go wrong with "The O.C." On the show, as I think I mentioned, Peter plays a very funny dad to the very funny character Seth. He surfs (the ocean, not the web) in his spare time, so he has that sexy windblown-and-sandy look about him (in fact, his name is Sandy, so there ya go). And he can definitely go mano-a-mano against Seth when it comes to the quips. He's one of the best characters on the show, actually, which is why I decided to do him second. And while I have to confess the last two episodes have been a bit of a disappointment (not as funny, not as original), I have high hopes for this show and will continue to make it a priority on Wednesday nights (at 9pm on FOX). Peter Gallagher is not just unbearably cute and funny, but he's also a very talented, flexible actor. I just can't get enough of him!
Let's bio this Boy: Peter Killian Gallagher was born on August 19, 1955 in Armonk, New York, where he spent his formative years. In high school, he became interested in acting, starring in a number of school plays and musicals. After graduating from Tufts University, he made his professional stage debut in the 1977 revival of "Hair," followed by a starring role in a Broadway production of "Grease."
In 1980, Peter made his feature film debut in Taylor Hackford's "The Idolmaker," a role which quickly led to several television movie offers. In 1989, he was cast in "sex, lies and videotape," the film that truly got him noticed in Hollywood. He still loves the stage, however, and has continued to take parts on Broadway, including a role in the 2001 production of "Noises Off" and a performance in 1986's "Long Day's Journey into Night" that garnered him a Tony Award nomination.
Pete's married with two children, but I won't hold it against him or anything. And I like to think his wife may have been behind his recent eyebrow taming (because what woman wouldn't want to get those things under control?), so she gets a few points for that as well. And while so far "The O.C." is keeping Pete pretty busy, he will also be showing up in a made-for-TV movie called "Double Bill" that is supposedly a comedy (I couldn't find out much about it). Comedy, drama, surfing, grief, coma, slapstick, murderer, dork -- he can do it all, and with such charm! Once you see Peter Gallagher's smile, hear his witty voice, and feel one of his guffawing laughs roll over you, you'll never go back to the maudlin teenagers of "The O.C."
Oh, okay, that's not exactly true. Because, well, watch for a write-up on Luke coming soon.
And by the way, if you have a little time to kill, you should definitely check out the Official Peter Gallagher web site, because the man writes it himself, and it's a lot of fun. Additionally, his autobiography is a lot more informative and entertaining than my biography, primarily because he seems to know so much more about himself than I do (go figure!). And, as if that weren't good enough, there some terrific photos that I didn't discover until after I'd already picked the above ones out -- unfortunately for you, I'm just too lazy to want to change them now. But you can head on over there and see them for yourself. I just love it when an actor has a hand in his own web site -- it really says something about how much they value their loyal fans. I feel like, well, like we're pals now. Like if we ever meet in person, we could just skip the small talk and go straight to the smooching, you know what I mean?
Oh, yeah. You know.
MacGyver Factor Score: 94.589%. Points off because. . Well, no, points back because. . Well, no, wait.
Oh heck, you guys know I just make this scoring thing up too, right? Copernicus Copernicus Copernicus!