Peter Gallagher: ‘One of the most toxic things in the world is success’

The actor on 40 years in show business, why he channelled Donald Trump in American Beauty – and having a face that makes directors sickThe director Robert Altman used to tell Peter Gallagher, the suave star of his 1992 movie The Player: “Gallagher, you’re so good-looking it makes me sick.” To hear Gallagher impersonating the gruff auteur, it was not quite a compliment.

But he was used to that.During a heated rehearsal for The Real Thing, Gallagher’s breakout role on Broadway at the age of 29, another director, Mike Nichols, admitted to not being able to stand the sight of him.

“And we were close!” says Gallagher cheerfully, speaking over Zoom from his home in Los Angeles.

He responded by growing an “awful white goatee” until Nichols pleaded for him to shave.

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