The upcoming musical series Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist casts Peter Gallagher as the title character’s father, and it’s far from the first time the 64-year-old actor has taken on such a role. “I love nothing more than being a father in real life, and I loved the part of Sandy Cohen” on the 2003–2007 drama The O.C., Peter exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now, at the NBC Fall and Midseason Lunch.

Peter and wife Paula Harwood, 64, have two kids: son James, 29, and daughter Kathryn, 26. “She just watched The O.C. for the first time without me being in the middle of it,” says Peter of Kathryn. She’s not the show’s only current fan.

The O.C

“I still get kids who reach out to me from all over the world, when they’ve got a final or a big event, like, ‘What should I do?’ And I say, ‘You got this — keep breathing.’” That’s good advice, and Peter’s glad to offer it: “You want to give that thing a father might give to a kid. That might just make a difference.”

Peter’s parenting skills have gotten even more exceptional over time. He previously told Good Housekeeping the most astonishing part about being a dad is getting to have “a fascinating discussion with a person whom you remember being at your kneecaps.”

“Sometimes I come home and the whole family’s there — with these two adults in place of my children, James and Kathryn!” he joked. But ultimately, being a parent has made him realize “you’re essentially powerless.”

“At least, after your kids reach the age of 7,” he joked again. “You give your children the best chance you can in life, but ultimately they’re going to do what they want, and hopefully you haven’t screwed them up too badly.”

Peter Gallagher daughter Kathryn

Like her father, Kathryn decided to become an actress and James a film director. Both of them have made their parents extremely proud. To Peter, the best thing about his marriage is that it’s very exciting.

“There’s never, ever a dull moment. And there’s also the suspicion that if you stick with it long enough, there will be a certain amount of grace that will accompany you two along the journey,” he said.

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