Patrick Gallagher Interview

Canada has many talented actors, writers, producers, and other content creators. To help our industry grow, we would like to introduce you to some talented folks who have managed to capture that magic on screen.

This week we spoke with British Columbia-born, Hollywood Star Patrick Gallagher.

Patrick has too many professional film and TV credits to list but some of those include Master and Commander, Sideways, Night at the Museum, Glee, DaVinci’s Inquest …etc.


HNMAG: Did you grow up in Vancouver?

Patrick Gallagher: Chilliwack, actually. I might be the fourth most famous person from there haha


HNMAG: I can’t think of the other three.

Patrick Gallagher: Bill Henderson from the band, the hockey player, Dave Archibald, and my sister Margaret works for CBC Radio (haha)


HNMAG: Performance runs in your family.

Patrick Gallagher: My father was a Shakespeare professor but also an actor. My mother was a pianist,and my sister sings and plays piano and dabbled in theatre,  so yeah


HNMAG: Did you study acting after high school?

Patrick Gallagher: I studied political science at Douglas College and then switched to Theatre. I did alright and then was luckily accepted to the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal. Going there changed the entire course of my life. It was fate because I chose to apply to the National Theatre School and that changed the course of my life. I was in Montreal from 1990-1993. We just went back there for our class’s thirtieth reunion. We had a charity staged reading. It was an amazing weekend.


HNMAG: You moved to Toronto after that. Did you start working in theatre?

Patrick Gallagher: My first job was with the Young People’s Theatre. The Nightingale. I did my first three shows on the main stage. I had some small parts in TV but nothing really hit. I left in 2000 to go to New York. I felt that I needed a change of scenery.


HNMAG: How long did you live in New York?

Patrick Gallagher: About 6 months. The year before I did a touring show called Mom, Dad, I’m Living with a White Girl by Marty Chan, in Western Canada. They wanted me back the next summer. I did that again and was planning to head to New York after that. I landed up in Vancouver a bit longer after 911 happened. Before that, around 95-96, I did a really amazing touring show out of Toronto called Naomi’s Road. Greenpeace sponsored that show to be performed at the places like New Denver and other sites where the camps were, in the 40s, in British Colombia. That changed everything. It meant so much more to us. Naomi was the name of the girl in the Internment Camps. It’s pronounced (Now-Me).


HNMAG: After 911 you were in Vancouver.

Patrick Gallagher: I got a few roles here and there. I was working at the White Spot on Cardero, wondering about the seven years in the industry and hoping to get that one job that would get me some real momentum so I can quit my Joe job.  I have no idea how I landed this part but I was auditioning for a white, Welsh sailor for Master and Commander. I was telling my agent they must be crazy, “Have you seen my face”? I somehow got it. I punched my last time clock for a regular job on Mother’s Day of 2002. I came out of that and did DaVinci’s Inquest and then Sideways. I’ve been working regularly as an actor ever since. Of course, there are ebbs and flows, some years are better than others.


HNMAG: DaVinci’s Inquest was one of the few shows that was actually set in Vancouver. It’s such a beautiful city, it’s a shame that it doesn’t get to play itself more often.

Patrick Gallagher: Yes, it’s nice, you can use your own accent. With Master and Commander directed by Peter Weir and Sideways directed by Alexander Payne, I learned so much about  acting and working away from home. It takes a long time to realize how to stop trying to do something and really be present. With DaVinci’s I learned the skill of being the same character over and over again.


HNMAG: Did you audition for Sideways?

Patrick Gallagher: No, I went to theatre school with Sandra Oh and she was married to Alexander Payne. I was also right for that role. It was based on a real person. I got there on her word and Alexander hadn’t really seen me do anything. I got really nervous, so I ‘did nothing’ which work out well as that’s kinda what we are supposed to do ..After a screening in Toronto, a studio head told me that he didn’t know I was an actor. He thought I was a real bartender. At the time, I was insulted thinking I didn’t do a great job but now I realize that it’s the opposite. You don’t want people to think you’re acting when you are performing in a movie. The greatest compliment is to believe that you are really that character.


HNMAG: Did you audition to play Attila the Hun in Night at the Museum? 

Patrick Gallagher: That was another one where it was luck and breaks. I auditioned in English. I get a call back and the director Shawn Levy says “That was really good but we are thinking about you doing something else, not speaking English” I responded by suggesting Midlevel dictator circa 1650 and he said yeah. I just made it up. I was so surprised to get booked as a local Vancouver actor. They wrote it out and I read it as is for the read-through. We shot it in New York City and then I started making it up as I went along. I used real Mongolian words and worked around them. The best compliment I ever got was from Shawn after a screening. He told me that not one person didn’t understand what you were saying. I was always thinking in English that’s how it was made understandable


HNMAG: The magic of the camera is it shows what you’re thinking.

Patrick Gallagher: One time early on in the first one ,  I was quite nervous and Robin Williams stopped me to tell me I was funny after a take . I know did it on purpose he could tell that I was anxious and he knew that would help me believe that I was doing ok. After that, most of what I did was ad-libbed. Ben Stiller was so generous and great to work with. I was so fortunate to perform with all these other amazing actors like Ricky Gervais and Owen Wilson.


HNMAG: After that, you were on the TV series Glee. Do you like to sing?

Patrick Gallagher: I do, I wanted to sing more but didn’t get a chance.  I was on True Blood at the same time so it was difficult to schedule.


HNMAG: Then you were in Los Angeles (LA) and brought up to work quite a bit in Vancouver.

Patrick Gallagher: Yeah, I got a lot of stuff. I’m not sure how I got past  all the tax breaks from not hiring a local. It still helps to be a citizen because there is no paperwork like with US actors.


HNMAG: Are you working right now?

Patrick Gallagher: I have a recurring character on a show called Wayward. It’s on Netflix. I play a cop once again. That’s a bit of a go-to for me.


HNMAG: Besides DaVinci’s, did you do anything else that was set in Vancouver?

Patrick Gallagher: I was recently in a movie called Can I Get a Witness which is not out yet. It’s sci-fi, so it’s set in British Columbia but in the future. It’s great to come back to Canada to work. Just after I did Big Sky, I booked Joe Pickett. I played another sheriff. I guess I give off cop?


HNMAG: You have a good authoritarian voice and look.

Patrick Gallagher: I guess but it’s not my personality at all.


HNMAG: How can Canada get to a point where we are making more shows and movies that are set in Canada?

Patrick Gallagher: Canadians need to want to see their own stories more. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that if the same movies were set in Montana and Saskatchewan, Canadians would like the one set in Montana more. We need to appreciate our stories more ourselves. That’s why the CBC is so important. The more we can see ourselves, the more we can get past that inferiority complex. We are moving forward with shows like Law and Order: Toronto. It’s better than when I was a kid.


Patrick Gallagher is a successful actor in the LA area who often works in Vancouver, close to where he grew up. He loves to perform and has been doing it for many years. He has a lot of terrific stories to share about the industry, his family, and being a dual citizen. No matter what level you are at in your career, you can always strive for more success. We wish Patrick all the best in reaching those higher levels and never stop striving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *