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George Gallagher Charms the Court in BET+ Perimeter TV Series from Tyler Perry, Armani Ortiz

George Gallagher Charms the Court in BET+ Perimeter TV Series from Tyler Perry, Armani Ortiz

We’re with actor George Gallagher. He’s currently on BET+ new show, “Perimeter”.

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here

Joe Winger:

Talk a little bit from an actor point of view. All the different characters you’ve played, what’s your preparation process like?

George Gallagher: 

It tends to vary from role to role. I utilize a lot of different disciplines.  But for example, on Perimeter I play an attorney who takes on cases that others wouldn’t necessarily.

He knows where his bread and butter comes from, but he likes to challenge and, when dealing with that, I’d watched a lot of different things. 

I watched Better Call Saul. 

I watched different lawyer shows and I consulted with some attorneys and did some research and, I have a relative who’s an upper echelon attorney in the tri state New York area.  I spoke with her in some detail about different things and went through the script actually, and to try to make it make sense for me in a very real, visceral way. 

But also honor the world that Armani Ortiz and Tyler Perry had created. 

So it varies quite a bit. I like to be really spontaneous and instinctive with everything. I like to go off the moment of what I get from the other person and what happens in the moment.  

How I respond to things 12 words or less, unfortunately is not my specialty, but that’s why we have writers to give me dialogue.

Joe Winger: 

Talk about Lance, the character you play in Perimeter.  

George Gallagher: 

Working on the show is one of the gifts of my creative, professional career. 

Armani Ortiz is the young writer-director visionary, who has created the show and put it forth with Tyler Perry as executive producer. And he also directed the Tyler Perry documentary, Maxine’s Baby, about Mr. Perry’s life that’s doing quite well right now. 

He’s really an extremely talented young guy. He really invited me into his world,  to create whatever I wanted within certain parameters. He was very collaborative with the actors. He allowed us to rehearse, work through things, but also give it our own flavor.

I come from the theater and actors that work in that studio tend to have that background because we can work quickly. We’re autonomous. We have some process and technique and I believe that we’re able to collaborate with others in a way that’s immediate, and in theater, you’re out there in the unknown and there’s no one to cut you out.

If you have a bad moment, the audience sees it.

So actors really learn how to hyper focus in real time. That was a bit of the experience. Once the cameras were starting to roll, but we did have an incredible cast. 

Most of the people came from California, some from New York. I’m really drawn from both coasts that came to Atlanta to film and work on the show.

It’s a great story. It’s period. It takes place in the nineties surrounding Freaknik, which was a really popular hip hop festival in Atlanta. The Olympics is in the backdrop, when they had them here in the early 90s.  The whole city, the airport expanded. It really put Atlanta on the map as a major metropolitan city.  So that’s all happening in the backdrop.  They had the first black mayor at the time. 

My character, Lance, is a high end attorney who has a very private clientele that pays him very well. Their cases might be a little more challenging.

He represents people who are, sometimes stepping outside of the law and in the criminal world and which makes it all the more challenging. 

But back to your earlier question, I was researching lawyers that had taken on different civil rights cases that are a little more controversial in terms of dealing with the system and upholding a belief in the system.

Someone like Alan Dershowitz, I watched Reversal of Fortune. 

He took on a lot of civil rights cases and then went and defended someone that everyone thought was a murderer.

But the reason why he did those things and which was an underlying, or rather an overtone of that novel and the film Reversal of Fortune.  It’s really about if you believe in the legal system and making sure that everyone has a fair and just defense, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

My character, Lance, is from a different world than I am. 

Malcolm, who’s one of the main characters on the show, that I defend and I represent.  I don’t want to give too many spoilers away, but it’s a really exciting world.  

People should check out the show and see where it takes everybody.

 

Joe Winger: 

When you talk about the cast there’s a range of different names.

Any specific lessons you learned from any of the cast?

George Gallagher: 

There’s one scene in particular where my client’s brother ends up getting arrested. He’s looking at some serious charges and we have to go visit him and give him some reassurance and get more information about his case.

Both of the actors, Malcolm Xavier, who plays Malcolm on the show and Jalen Gilbert, who plays his brother were extraordinary. 

We shot in a visitation room in a police station and when this actor walked in, I felt like he was really in jail or in prison. 

The guy transformed.

I’d met him [before] and we rehearsed the scene and everyone’s nice and we’re in hair and makeup and shooting the crap and talking.  Then you get on set and it’s not the same human being, which is such a gift as an actor when you have.

It forces you to really respond and you’re just in the moment. The three of us had a really exciting dynamic and I thought it translated really well on film. 

It reminded me of things as an actor, which is if you believe it, if you really believe it, the audience will believe it too.  Everybody around you on that set will believe it. 

If you don’t. then it’s kind of luck of the draw and you’re hoping for the editor [and music score] to help you. 

If an actor is really meant to be an actor, and they’re worth their grain of salt, it comes from them living in this danger zone.  And this guy, he came out, he was dangerous. You felt like anything could happen.

He reminded me of a young Denzel Washington.

And Malcolm was also exceptional. It was impossible to not believe they were brothers. You could feel the affinity, but also the sort of rage that was brewing between the two of them. 

Joe Winger: 

That vibe helps inform your performance as well. It just makes the whole scene more alive and in the moment for you.

George Gallagher: 

Absolutely.  You just feel like you’re there with another human being having an experience and you forget you’re an actor and that you’re in a story and you just really like suspension of disbelief.

As actors, we get to live many lives, which is what I love the most about acting. 

Armani Ortiz really set the stage for that to happen to us. 

Also making it feel authentic and real. The art direction, the cinematography, every department was really on point. 

Joe Winger: 

You’ve played some really intense roles.  After a day on a set that heavy, as a human being, as an actor, how do you relax?

George Gallagher: 

That’s a really good question. A different film that I did, called “Altered States of Plaine” is about a guy who falls asleep and wakes up in different parts of the world. He doesn’t know why it’s happening to him and he resorts to drug induced insomnia to stay awake.

It’s very bizarre film and it balances a lot of psychological aspects. 

Sometimes in a role you do immerse yourself and you work to within an inch of your life.  [Afterwards] you come out and shake it off and sometimes you’ve got dings in the fender that aren’t going away.

But as an actor generally I just laugh and shake it off.  The camera eats all that stuff up, hopefully we all can shake hands and go out for a drink later on and bury the hatchet. 

Joe Winger: 

It sounds like on your current show Perimeter, it does have a more congenial vibe. 

George Gallagher: 

Absolutely. I’ve worked on two projects there [Tyler Perry Productions] now.  It’s one of the most positive environments you could ever step into as an actor. Tyler Perry Productions hires the very best of the best of people.

I remember in California walking on the Paramount [lot] for an audition and everybody looks so happy.  They had a twinkle in their eye.

[I mentioned it to a friend and they replied]  “They’re all winning the game.”

I was like, you’re right.  There is that gratitude, you get a job for that week.  You’re part of the 1%.  You’re very lucky. It’s a privilege.

Joe Winger: 

You’ve been outspoken about the future of Hollywood, digital storytelling, AI.  You’ve had publicly a very positive outlook on what the future looks like. 

George Gallagher: 

I don’t believe the human soul will ever be duplicated and replicated. 

I think they’re going to get interesting products and effects that are going to look really cool and fascinating, but there’s still going to be a storyteller that’s a human being behind that.

But I still think that writers, storytellers, actors, and people in the visual, there’s still going to need to be human beings manning this. 

There’s always going to be a need and a desire for communal experience. A human being telling stories and artists, but it is probably going to alter a lot.

The audience determines at the end of the day, it’s about what they want.

Joe Winger: 

Our audience is very food based, wine based, cocktail based, I’m not sure if you identify as a foodie.

What’s your favorite dish? What do you love to cook? 

George Gallagher: 

My pronouns are asparagus, broccoli, and spinach. [George laughs]

I love food. I’m big into real food, raw foods organically grown, supporting local farmers, salads greens. 

There was a dish that I used to make, sausage and pepper penne.  

I use turkey sausages because I like it a little healthier.  I would make it with fusilli because it soaks up the sauce better.  Getting the oils and the fats into the sauce, and then the fusilli just grabs it and soaks it all up, and then I would add almonds into that dish.

 

Maybe some spinach. Definitely have to have green peppers and some spicy peppers, bright colored rainbow diet.

If I cook it too much, then it’s a mess.  But I’ve gotten better at it over the years. It’s edible.

Joe Winger: 

You finished shooting “A Heart for Christmas” in Los Angeles. Can you talk about the movie and what you play?

George Gallagher: 

Absolutely. I just wrapped “A Heart for Christmas”. I play Dr. Carl, who’s really driven, sort of type A person who is engaged to the protagonist in the film, breaks it off early on and because he’s got his own sort of, he’s a quasi Mc, McDreamy meets McDouchey sort of doctor. A little bit of a God complex, and he’s quite pleased with himself.

It’s a Christmas film and it’s fun and has a lot of humor and charm. 

We shot for a few weeks in LA and all around Pasadena.  We got to experience Christmas in the summertime.

It should be out sometime before this Christmas.

Joe Winger: 

Anything in the future we should be looking for you? 

George Gallagher: 

On Netflix, the new film Six Triple Eight starring Kerry Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Dean Norris, and Sam Waterston.

That was also directed by Tyler Perry. 

I play a character named Levi who’s a business executive and it takes place around the Second World War. 

Part of the film was shot in Atlanta, some in Europe: England, Germany, all around the world.

It’s one of the biggest productions I’ve ever personally been involved in with a lot of great actors and had a terrific script. I think people are going to really like the story.

Joe Winger: 

You’ve made the unorthodox choice as an actor of leaving Los Angeles, having a family life somewhere else. What inspired that move?

George Gallagher: 

It’s been a blessing in so many ways I can’t even tell you. 

We live in a suburb of Atlanta north of the city.  Having my children be born in Los Angeles and being from the New York area, I’ve never not lived in a major metropolitan area.

You really just can provide a better quality of life for your family.  I moved here [from the New York area].  I heard Tyler Perry was quarantining and was going to keep production going.

I thought nothing stops that guy. Those are the kinds of people I want to work with. I said to my wife and family, “Let’s go to Atlanta. We can always come back to New York later.”

It’s just amazing.  It was like everything that I had wanted and planned for.

Very rarely in my life have everything unfolded exactly the way I’d hoped and envisioned it. But this was one of those situations and it’s an hour from New York.

It’s green, it’s beautiful, and people are friendly. You get great organic food and there’s farmers everywhere. We have, of course, Georgia peaches everywhere.

Joe Winger: 

As we wrap up any social media, any websites?  What’s the best way to follow you, find out more about you?

George Gallagher: 

Feel free to follow me on Instagram. It’s GeorgeGallagher7.  Facebook is George Gallagher

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