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Keir David Peters Gilchrist (born September 28, 1992) is a Canadian actor. Gilchrist is known for playing teen Marshall Gregson on Showtime’s original series United States of Tara, and for starring in the 2010 drama-comedy It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
Life and career
Keir Gilchrist found himself a bellwether in the portrayal of alternative lifestyles on American television with his role as an assured, amicable, self-aware gay teen on Showtime’s “The United States of Tara” (Showtime, 2009-2011). A native of the U.K., Gilchrist showed an early predisposition for the stage, winning increasingly larger juvenile roles in mostly Canadian feature and telefilm productions until earning steadier work, if briefly, as an all-American next-door neighbor in Seth MacFarlane’s abortive attempt at a sitcom, “The Winner” (Fox, 2007). He would show up in much more mature iteration two years later, playing the grounded Marshall Gregson, an openly homosexual young man whose coming-of-age is child’s play compared to the issues of his mother, a woman with multiple personalities, in Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody’s attempt at premium drama, “Tara.” Though heterosexual himself, Gilchrist’s rendering of Marshall as unabashedly but unassumingly gay, earned him not only critical laud but waves of media buzz characterizing him as a new kind of role model for a young people whose sexual orientation had long engendered stigmatization and repression.
He was born Keir David Peters Gilchrist on Sept. 28, 1992, in London, England, U.K., the first of two sons of Ian and Catherine Gilchrist; the latter a daughter of a Canadian member of parliament. The family relocated to the United States briefly before moving back to his mother’s native country, settling in Toronto. There, Keir attended the Annex Children’s Theatre in Education, a school for youngsters gifted in the performing arts, and was followed in his thespian aspirations by his younger brother Evan. At age 10, Keir won his first role in a major North American TV series, Showtime’s groundbreaking, Canadian-shot drama about denizens of Pittsburgh’s gay community. Though a two-line guest-shot, it would be the kick-off of a series of small roles in designated “kid parts” as the protagonist’s youthful self in flashbacks, as with “The Right Way” (2004), “The Waldo Cumberbund Story” (2005), and the horror outing “Dead Silence” (2007). He netted some one-off TV roles on series such as “1-800-Missing” (Lifetime, 2003-06) and “ReGenesis” (Movie Central, 2004-08) and landed increasingly prominent speaking roles afforded by the active film business that had given Toronto the nickname of “Hollywood North;” among them the gritty mystery “Horsie’s Retreat” (2005), the family fantasy drama “A Lobster Tale” (2006), and the CBC comedy, “The Altar Boy Gang” (2007).
In 2007, Gilchrist came to the attention of comedy cartoon über-producer Seth MacFarlane, creator of Fox’s ribald staples “Family Guy” (1999- ) and “American Dad!” (2005- ). Gilchrist not only earned a guest-shot voicing an insufferable grade-school bully in “Family Guy,” he also landed a regular role on the producer’s first attempt at creating a live sitcom, “The Winner.” The show starred Rob Corddry as a conspicuously immature neighborhood loser attracted to his next-door neighbor but finding more in common with her young son, played by Gilchrist. When “The Winner” shuttered after only six episodes, Gilchrist did another flight of Canadian productions, including “The Egg Factory” (2008) and a minor role in the comedy “The Rocker” (2008), as well as two recurring roles on the CBC series “Life With Derek” (2005-09) and “The Listener” (CTV/NBC, 2009- ). More importantly, Gilchrist landed his first feature leads: the title role of the in the indie film “Just Peck” (2009), playing an unobtrusive freshman who bonds unexpectedly with a senior girl from the popular clique, finding they have much in common in their latch-key suburban existence; and a turn as young man coming of age in western Canada of the 1920s who attempts to live down his family’s checkered past in “Hungry Hills” (2009).
But his pop-cultural breakthrough would come with his casting in “The United States of Tara,” the Showtime series created by hot young screenwriter Diablo Cody, just off her own breakthrough with the sleeper hit feature “Juno” (2007). Gilchrist played Marshall Gregson, a gay teenager less flummoxed by his own social issues than by his mother and her four other personalities, including a homophobic redneck named Buck, as she deals with dissociative identity disorder. In the title role, Toni Collette won raves and awards, but Gilchrist’s sweet, measured performance as a boy facing his sexuality undaunted by archaic mores won positive attentions of gay-oriented media such as Out and The Advocate. In The Hollywood Reporter’s June 15, 2010, Emmy Awards ramp-up, Boston Globe critic Matthew Gilbert called Gilchrist “the best thing about ‘United States of Tara’ . . . He is touching as he shows the plight of a gay kid who doesn’t fit any of the stereotypes.” It proved a springboard for Gilchrist to take the lead in indie filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s 2010 outing “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.” The tale of a suicidal young man who voluntarily checks himself into a psychiatric hospital, but after finding the youth ward full, winds up institutionalized among more seriously addled adults, the movie hit the film festival circuit starting, appropriately enough, with the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010.