Keir Gilchrist plays Toni Collettes gay teenage son on Showtimes United States of Tara. Colletes turn as a mother with multiple personalities has won her an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and a devout following. With the shows second season just under way, we sat down with Gilchrist to talk about his character Marshalls developing sexuality and what's in store for him this season.
A lot of gay characters struggle with being gay, but Marshall seems pretty comfortable with it.
Keir Gilchrist: Maybe its a bit easier without the turmoil. Maybe its a bit easier playing Marshall. To be honest with you, I dont really think about it too much.
Last season Marshall experimented with his sexuality, but he never really defined himself as gay. Are we going to see that develop this season?
Yeah, Marshalls big turmoil this season is exactly that. Hes trying to find out who wants him romantically. How does he want to be? Hes not sure if he wants everyone to know or if he wants to keep it more of a personal thing. And I think throughout the season, he finds a nice place for himself and tries different things -- dating girls and everything else on the spectrum.
Marshalls TV family is really supportive of him. They've never seemed to have had a problem with him being gay. Do you come from a similar family?
I have a very supportive family. They would be just fine with me doing about anything. I think it helped me because when I read the script for the first time and read the breakdown that said Marshall was gay, it never crossed my mind that it might be strange that his family was OK with it. And so having a family whos also supportive helps with that.
Was the dynamic of being gay at your school similar to that of Marshalls?
I dont remember none of my friends were out. No one I knew was. I dont think I can remember any gay kids at my school -- there weren't any gay clubs. Im sure if there was an audience, there could have been. But no, I guess Marshalls school is maybe a definite better place to be openly gay.
You once had a guest spot on Queer As Folk. What was that like?
To be honest with you, that was my first job ever, and I was 10. I really remember very, very little. It was my first thing, so I was still kind of figuring out how sets worked.
Having done Queer As Folk, and now playing a gay role on Tara, do you fear being pigeonholed?
I hope not to be pigeonholed in anything. No one wants that. But if people are going to pigeonhole me, people are going to pigeonhole me. Its fine. Ive done other projects and played straight characters, too. I can definitely do it.
Youve worked with some really famous people like Marcia Cross in Just Peck and the upcoming Its Kind of a Funny Story with Zack Galifianakis. How was it to work with those people?
It was fantastic. I did Just Peck like two years ago now. But it was great. I think it was like the first lead I had in a film. And then, the most recent one I did with Zack Galifianakis was a blast. I mean, Zacks hilarious. Everyone on the set was great.
Do you feel like being on Tara has skyrocketed your career?
I wouldnt say being on Tara has skyrocketed my career. Its definitely helped my career a lot, but I still go out and do auditions and whatnot.
So what do you hope to do more of in your career in the future?
Id like to do lots of movies because they're faster to make so you get to do more stuff. I want to do lots of character driven stuff. I really dont have much of an interest in huge-budget action movies or 3-D green screen or any of that stuff. Its just not an interest of mine. Im pretty happy with where I am right now, to be honest. If things keep going the way its going, Id be pleased.
On the shows set, does it get confusing with how to respond to each of Taras personalities?
You know, its not difficult. Toni's great. She walks in the room and its not like theres ever really a big shift. We dont ever need to help Toni get to where she needs to be. Shes just so much the character that you kind of just respond to whoever shes playing, like Buck or Alice or whoever. So theres not really much for us to do.
Which of Taras personalities is the most fun for you to be on set with?
I would definitely say Buck is the most fun to be on set with. I think everybody would say the same thing because its a great time riffing, and hes funny.
There was a little bit of drama last season with his homophobia. Are we going to see that this season?
Im pretty sure whatever issue Buck and Marshall had -- whatever scrap they had -- theyve pretty much resolved it. And in this new season, theres much less tension and there are far fewer homophobic remarks.
Theres also a new gay neighbor couple on the street this season. How does that affect Marshall?
Ted and Hanny move in next door and theyre an adult gay couple. They come at the perfect time for Marshall in his life because hes just deciding right now does he want to go hang out with the kids at the gay table and be super flamboyant or does he want to date a girl and try that? And they just provide another aspect because theyre mature and cultured and live together like any straight couple would and share a house. Its another perspective thats brought in for Marshall to look at in deciding what he wants to be.
Were you prepared for audiences and critics to consider your role groundbreaking, making you a role model for gay teens?
No, I wasnt expecting much of anything. I didnt think about it until the show had already come out, and people started telling me how pleased they were to see an out gay teen on TV. It kind of came out of nowhere after the first season came out.
How do you feel about being called a gay role model?
It feels great. I mean, who wouldnt want to be a role model for somebody, right? If thats gay teens, then awesome.
The second season of United States of Tara airs Mondays at 10:30 P.M. E.S.T. on Showtime.Send a letter to the editor about this article.