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Q&A: Get To Know 'Shameless' Star Zach McGowan

Brittany Frederick Brittany Frederick
March 3rd, 2012 12:00pm EST

Have you gotten to know the newest member of the cast of Shameless? Actor Zach McGowan joined the Showtime series this season in the role of Jody, Sheila's (Joan Cusack) son-in-law. To help you get acquainted, I sat down and asked him a few questions about the man behind the man on the motorcycle.

Zach McGowan

What made you decide to pursue a career as an actor?

In reality, I've always been an actor, since I was a kid. I did theater growing up in New York. I was always in the plays in school. I was either going to be an actor or an athlete or a soldier. Those were kind of the three paths that I always kind of embarked on. The way things worked, I wasn't quite big enough to play football and wasn't quite able to become a soldier. My brother was serving at the time and my family didn't want to have two people deployed.

High school theater was what really solidified my choice of becoming an actor. My high school had a fantastic teacher who really steered me towards it.

So with those different options in front of you, was there ever legitimately a Plan B?

It was never that there was a Plan B, it was what I had to do until I could do Plan A. As an actor, you have to get your kind of survival job on at some point, and when I started it was restaurants and bartending. When I moved out to Los Angeles, I actually started cooking for a living, for about my first three years. 

What was really lucky for me, I should mention that I've been working as an actor exclusively for the last four years, and a lot of my work is a lot of voice-over work. That's been what's sustained me the most. That kind of become my Plan B. Acting is equal parts talent and perseverance.

You have an interesting list of credits before Shameless. I always like to ask people who appeared on Cold Case about that experience, because I love that show.

Cold Case was fun. It was a fun experience. That was right when I was cutting my teeth as a TV actor. It was a great learning experience, to work on really fast-paced television shows that are very high quality. It was a place where I learned that I had to keep up and I could keep up.

This sticks out to me in particular: you were a sous chef on an episode of Iron Chef America? I suppose this goes back to the cooking experience?

It's kind of the funny thing on my resume. When I moved to Los Angeles, I was cooking with two guys who became celebrity chefs if you will. I became their sous chef for awhile. We'd go to all the big names in Hollywood. I met Bill Macy the first time when I was cooking. I met him the second time on set.

Were you ever starstruck meeting people when you were doing that?

There are certainly many people that I have tremendous respect for their work, and when I meet them, I have to be reserved because I want to ask them so many questions. Bill Macy was one of them.

What was really a learning experience for me [was that] my first experience with celebrities was just like, you'd be standing next to one on the train, in New York. I've always been the one who tries to always say something [to them].

So if we look back on your resume, is there something else you'd recommend to people who've seen you on Shameless?

I think you should definitely check out my work on CSI: Miami and Cold Case and Numbers. Those are probably a good place to see me cutting my teeth as a TV actor.

I have a great little part opposite Christian Bale in Terminator: Salvation as well. It was my first experience working on a very large production, I was of course a very small part of that, but I'm a huge fan of the franchise.

I actually still run my own website [zachmcgowan.com] and I keep all of my favorite clips there.

That brings us to Shameless itself. What's coming up for Jody, and what's it been like for you to stay with him for this long?

Depending on kind of where people are with the storyline, Jody was introduced as kind of a badass guy on a motorcycle who didn't really say very much. What to look out for is kind of the next part of his arc. We've started to see what's more behind the mask of toughness. We've started seeing that in the last couple of episodes but you'll see that even more. We'll see more of the true silliness that is Jody.

It's been a true pleasure. My best experience so far as an actor. My chance to open up and show all the different sides of myself. When you play a guest star role on a TV show, you may just be the guy everyone thinks is the bad guy. Those are fun and they're great to learn [from] but they're also limited. What's great about Jody is we've gotten to paint a complete palette.

Do you have any specific ambitions going forward?

I want to work with many of the different directors of our day. Honestly, I'd like to start doing more films in the off-season of Shameless and more films where I can start moving into playing larger parts. I'm actually starting to do that. I'm just looking to grow as an actor and play some of the parts that weren't open to me before as an unknown, and have fun with them.

What films and TV shows are you a fan of?

My all-time favorite movie is The Neverending Story. It's been my favorite since I was a little kid. I'm a big Shawshank Redemption fan, a big Braveheart fan. This year, I was a really big fan of Moneyball and a huge fan of Anonymous, which I thought was a really fantastic film.

My favorite TV shows...I was a really huge fan of Homeland, and then Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones were two of my favorites. We live in like the Golden Age of Television. There's just so many fantastically produced and acted and written TV shows on the air today. Really kind of groundbreaking work is being done.

My thanks to Zach McGowan for taking the time for this interview! Be sure to check out his website and you can follow him on Twitter, before you catch him in a new Shameless this Sunday at 10 PM ET/PT.

(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

Photo Credits: PR Photos


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