Neither crab fishing in Vancouver nor attending business school at the University of British Columbia could hook actor Justin Chatwin. Chatwin next explored television miniseries, then quit business school, following the wise words of his favorite professor, “Ride the wave until it crashes, and when it crashes, it’ll crash.” Since then, Chatwin has waited for that wave to crash but is still riding its momentum—right into Showtime’s new series “Shameless.” Having previously appeared in “War of the Worlds,” “Dragonball: Evolution,” and Showtime’s “Weeds,”, Chatwin now stars as the love interest, Steve, in the “Shameles” series. Featuring an alcoholic father, played by Emmy-winning actor William H. Macy, and his troubled yet spirited family—the Gallaghers—the show portrays the difficulties of addiction, welfare, and the solidarity found between brothers and sisters. Chatwin values the series’s controversial nature and the variety of emotions that it portrays. “It’ll make you laugh and it’ll make you cry,” he said. “But I think the most important thing about the show is that it brings up a lot of sensitive issues and pushes people’s boundaries.” Chatwin describes his character Steve as bold, impulsive, and determined yet highly flawed. “It got me really excited, got the blood flowing in my veins,” he said. “And there have been many times when I’ve flown by the seat of my pants, like the character, and it’s gotten me into deep trouble.” Chatwin’s own impulsive nature is what he believes links him to his character, Steve. Chatwin finds that his experiences working in the cutthroat acting atmosphere, where quick thinking and ingenuity are key, also relate to Steve’s life in Chicago. He admits to struggling with rejection, with which Steve also struggles, in his own life. “Your instrument is yourself,” Chatwin said. “When you’re rejected, you go, ‘It’s me, there’s a defective problem with me and my personality.’ It can be really hard on your self esteem.” When asked how he dealt with rejection and self-esteem issues, Chatwin jokingly said, “with drugs.” In reality, he said he chooses to value the positive and learn from experiences that come with the process. In the case of the blockbuster bust, “Dragonball: Evolution,” Chatwin doesn’t dwell on the lack of commercial success but on the good memories involved. “I had a good time working on it,” Chatwin said. “I got to learn different martial arts, I got to travel Asia when promoting it, and I got to see different places and meet a lot of interesting people, like Emmy Rossum.” Rossum, who was Chatwin’s co-star in “Dragonball: Evolution,” stars alongside him again in “Shameless” as Fiona, the oldest daughter and matriarch of the Gallagher family and Steve’s love interest. Working on “Shameless,” Chatwin is extremely happy and promotes the show’s depiction of the worth of family, unlike other mainstream shows that may encourage negative lifestyles, especially for student watchers. “The family, no matter how unapologetic they are, how much soul they have, how ‘shameless’ they are, they stick together,” he said. “They’re proud to be who they are, together.” New episodes of “Shameless” play on Showtime every Sunday at 10 p.m.
Four seniors reflect on their time at Columbia, and what it means to be leaving these years—and NYC—behind.