As we race to the season finale of Showtime’s dark comedy “Shameless,” one of the story threads coming to a head is how the relationship between Ian (Cameron Monaghan) and his firefighter lover, Caleb (Jeff Pierre) will be affected now that Ian has been fired from his EMT job.
So far, the relationship has been pretty drama free compared to Ian’s past relationship with the incarcerated Mickey (Noel Fisher), even weathering the news that Ian is bi-polar and Caleb is HIV positive.
I grabbed a few minutes with Pierre, who talked about his “Shameless” role being a little different from past roles, what the relationship with Ian and Caleb is all about and about Pierre’s new role on an upcoming Freeform series.
Looking over your past credits, it seems like something different for you including playing a gay character.
Jeff Pierre: It’s definitely by far completely different from anything else I’ve done and that’s one of the reasons I was really intrigued by it. First of all, when I got the job I was already a fan of the show. My girlfriend turned me onto the show a few years ago and I’ve been watching from day one. Just getting on board, it was amazing.
As far as the character goes, it is something a little outside my actual character, which is something as an actor I've wanted to do. In this business I want to be able to have the range to play different roles with different emotions. But, at the same time, it's not that far from me. I got to just be me. I'm a regular old guy's guy but [with Caleb] I like men. There's obviously a passion for Ian and I feel like there was a connection that we had and I wanted to introduce him to something new.
When the relationship started, it may have begun as physical but it turned into something more pretty fast. What is the attraction about given they're so different.
JP: It’s funny, when we had our first interaction, it could’ve been something completely different and Ian had different intentions but I think Caleb has been burned before in the past so it’s time for him to try something new. He sees this guy who is young and he doesn’t know much about him but they have this connection, especially when we got a chance to know each other better at the baseball game. As soon as we went on the first date, I could tell that I could introduce this guy to a better life. I just broke it down on the first date and he’d never been wined and dined before.
When the guys tell their secrets that Caleb is HIV positive and Ian is bi-polar, I liked that that news didn’t take over the story.
JP: Both of them had their secret that came out and in every day life [being HIV positive] is still huge and it is something heavy but I think that’s the best thing about Caleb. He always looks at the brighter sense and doesn’t want to be bogged down by negativity. He wants to be safe and you see him wanting to use protection but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by Ian being bi-polar. He just likes to look at the positive side of things.
How has it been working with Cameron since you’re the new guy coming in and he’s the veteran on the show?
JP: He’s been really great. He was really welcoming since day one and he welcomed me to the family. For the most part, I’ve just been working with him up to the season finale and we got to hang out up in Chicago outside of work so we became close. I feel like we built a good relationship, which I think built as the show progressed. He’s a really cool guy.
In last week's episode, Caleb brings up that he hasn't really met anyone from Ian's family yet. Will that come up moving forward?
JP: I think you’ll see a little bit of it but I feel like things are going to end up working out. You’ll see a little bit of that introduced in the season finale. I want you to tune in and see whether it’s a positive thing or not.
From episode 7 of this season, Caleb asks Ian to be his date for a family wedding.
I also saw the casting news about Freeform’s new show, “Beyond,” which looks to be very different from “Shameless.”
JP: Yeah, it’s completely opposite. I’m playing an ex-Marine who comes back to investigate the disappearance of his brother. The show has this cool sci-fi [element] and is about a guy who ends up in a coma for twelve years and wakes up and has these mysterious abilities that manifest. My character is the guy trying to figure out what’s going on. It’s very cool because I get to play a bit of a darker character. With Caleb on “Shameless” he’s always positive, which is how I am, I’m a happy-go-lucky guy. But with this new character he’s a bit darker.
“Shameless” airs Sundays at 9pm on Showtime.