The Passion of Keir Gilchrist

After an outpouring of positive viewer response, Keir Gilchrist feels greater pressure in portraying an openly gay teen on The United States of Tara. But he’d still rather go camping than read Valley of the Dolls.

BY Brandon Voss

March 22 2010 6:10 PM ET

Was it easy to establish chemistry with Michael Willett?
Yeah, he’s awesome. I was a little freaked out when I first started shooting this season because I’d been on a canoe trip for two weeks, so I literally flew straight from the woods to L.A. to work on the show and meet all these new people. Michael has a very strong personality, but it wasn’t long before we started hanging out, and I’d say we’re pretty good friends now.

Last season Marshall dealt with his schoolboy crush on Jason, the sexually confused son of a pastor. What did Marshall learn from that experience?
He got his heart broken, so he’s definitely more hesitant to put his heart out there. Now he wants to have a relationship that’s open, because he wasn’t allowed to have that before. He doesn’t want another boyfriend who has to hide the fact that he’s with him, which also relates to the fact that he tries to date a girl.

How did you and Andrew Lawrence, who played Jason, view Jason’s sexuality — bisexual, straight but experimenting, or gay but oppressed because of his Christian beliefs?
I never had a conversation with Andrew about it, because we did our own thing — and, to be honest with you, I didn’t really know what I was doing for most of the first season — but my opinion is that Jason was gay but just unable to explore that because of his religious parents.

Aside from his awkward affair with Jason, Marshall’s sexuality was pretty much a non-issue last season. Will his being openly gay create more obstacles or consequences at school this season? After all, the show is set in suburban Kansas.
Yeah. Marshall didn’t really have many friends last season. He’d never kissed a boy before Jason, so that got it out there into the school. Now that the rest of the school knows he’s gay, he’s got to figure out what that means.

Was Andrew your first on-screen kiss?
Definitely one of the first, but it was fine. Everybody was really professional about it on set. Me and Andrew talked through it a little bit before, so it wasn’t a big deal.

There’s a new gay couple living on the Gregson family’s street this season: Ted and Hany, played by Michael Hitchcock and Sammy Sheik. How does that influence Marshall?
Marshall has an interesting relationship with both of them, mainly Ted, because he’s a bit like an older version of Marshall — they even dress sort of similar. Ted’s a cool guy, and he helps shape Marshall’s opinion of what he’d like to be. It’s interesting for Marshall because Ted and Hany are gay, they’re in love, they live in the same house, and they do everything a straight couple would. It’s the first time he’s actually seen that, so it gives him a different view of what kind of relationship he could hope to have at some point.

Tags: television

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