If you have never heard of the name Cameron Monaghan, you surely will within the next few years. Monaghan is a tremendous young actor who is on the rise, and he is poised to breakout sooner rather than later. The actor recently turned 23 years old, and it is clear his time is now.
Monaghan is known by many for two key roles he has played on television. But before I get to those, let me touch upon a few other parts you may recognize him from. One of his first roles came in the form of a six-episode run as Chad on the show Malcolm in the Middle in 2004 and 2005, which was loved by many.
Since I never watched the show, my first introduction to Monaghan came in 2006 when he portrayed the young bully to Adam Sandler’s main character in the comedy Click. It was later that year that Monaghan took his first major villainous turn, as he played a young unsub named Jeffrey on Criminal Minds. As a fan of the show I totally bought into the thirteen-year-old Monaghan’s portrayal of a young psychopath capable of murder in an episode titled “The Boogeyman”.
Other popular shows and movies in which Monaghan has made an appearance include: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, The Mentalist, Fringe, NCIS, Rizzoli & Isles, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and The Giver. From all of those popular shows and films, the chances that you have seen the rising star at least once is pretty likely.
Now let’s get to the two key roles that have defined Monaghan up to this point in his career. Those roles are Ian Gallagher on Showtime’s Shameless and Jerome Valeska on Fox’s Gotham. With these two roles alone, Monaghan has demonstrated the variety of emotions he can put in to a role. They also help to showcase how versatile an actor he truly is as well.
Let’s start with his role of Jerome on Gotham. Up to this point, Monaghan has only portrayed the character of Jerome in a total of four episodes over the course of two seasons. Yet he is hands down one of the best parts of the series. His character was “killed off” early in season two, but is poised to return late in the upcoming season three or maybe the start of a potential season four.
Jerome lived his life in a traveling circus, where his mother was murdered. At first, Monaghan portrayed a sad and upset teen who had lost his mother to murder. But once the main character Jim Gordon realized Jerome was actually responsible for the murder, he flipped into full on psychopath mode. And Monaghan absolutely excels in that type of role, becoming a fan favorite in the sole episode he appeared in for season one.
Fans loved him so much they brought him back for the second season, where the rumor mill got burning with the idea that Monaghan would eventually turn into the iconic Batman villain the Joker. Monaghan’s actions, laugh helped fuel this rumor. When watching the show you legitimately believe Monaghan is insane, loving it as he tortures and kills people. It is scary good how believable he is in the role, and his return to the series is highly anticipated. I would also like to point out if his character turns out to be the Joker, it speaks volumes of Monaghan as not any actor can pull off such an important role.
But at the end of the day, the majority of people will recognize him as the most messed up Gallagher in a house of messed up Gallaghers on Shameless. Ian Gallagher is a bipolar teen, living on the South Side of Chicago with his five siblings, and occasionally alcoholic father (uncle if you want to get technical), who also happens to be gay. His ex-boyfriend is currently in jail, he used to work as a stripper in a club and once tried to hijack a military helicopter after signing up for the Army under his brother’s name. So it is safe to say a lot is going on with the character.
And with that, Monaghan has a lot he needs to embody within a single character, and he pulls it off to perfection. In the earlier seasons he was the shy teen who was afraid to come out as gay, and also had a desire to join the Army. As time went on he become more open about his sexuality, and become more willing to stand up for himself. We got the first glimpse of his bipolar side when he decided to run off and join the Army. He would later return like nothing happened, even though he essentially ran away from the Army after getting in trouble.
And that is when Monaghan got a chance to showcase his versatility in the role, which is highly important when portraying a bipolar character. For a few episodes he would play a highly energetic character who was happier than anyone on the show. Then came the bipolar diagnosis, following a few episodes of Monaghan playing a character who did not want to get out of bed, or even talk to anyone. It was a total 180, and Monaghan nailed each side to perfection. Over the course of these episodes, he would play the highly eccentric version of Ian who seemed always to be on drugs, then take a turn to the darker side. Moments after being in that happy state he was holding a knife to the throat of his friend Mandy’s boyfriend, who had been roughing her up. It is this seamless transition that helps exemplify the potential star power of Monaghan.
For a true breakout, Monaghan just needs one role in a big time film, even if it is not a major role. He is better served in a villainous role, but he has shown he can play just about anything. A character that is not a truly good guy, but one you feel sympathy for could be ideal as well. I was hoping he would find his way into Spider-Man: Homecoming, but at this point, it is likely too late for that to happen. He would have made a terrific choice for Flash Thompson, the high school bully who is a major fan of Spider-Man, who ultimately ends up becoming friends with Peter Parker.
Given his talent, his time will come. And it will come soon. For now he will continue to nail his roles of Ian Gallagher and eventually Jerome once again. Just remember the name Cameron Monaghan, because within a few years, he will be a household name. His star is on the rise, so check him out on Shameless when it returns for its seventh season on October 2nd!