Cameron Monaghan Explains Why He's Returning to 'Shameless'

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Shameless
Showtime

Cameron Monaghan is addressing his surprising return to Shameless.

Showtime renewed the racy family drama for a 10th season last week, its first without leading lady Emmy Rossum, but with everyone else in the  cast, including Monaghan, who announced his departure back in October. At the Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday, Monaghan explained why he made the decision to go back to the series, after what would be less than a season away.

"With any show, it’s a nexus of creativity and business," Monaghan told ET, along with a small group of reporters, after the Gotham panel. "That’s what any actor decides when they’re on a show for as long as they are. Their contract ends. I renewed it a number of times. It got to the point where I wanted to step away for creative reasons, as well as business, which many other actors had done with the show years earlier."

"I took some time away and I talked to John Wells, the showrunner, about possible things we could do with the character in the future. And we got to a place both creatively and financially where I felt comfortable coming back," he continued, confirming that he is a series regular and plans are for him to be in the entire 10th season. "Much of that had to do with what we were going to do with the story, so I’m really excited to be able to go back and do that."

Monaghan was candid about his thoughts on whether Rossum's exit at the end of the ninth season would dramatically change the dynamic of the show, both in front of the camera and behind it.

"I wouldn’t say it changes the whole fabric of the show, because it is an ensemble cast and because over the course of the last five to six years, characters have grown up and really branched out and the stories had become very separate. It was very rare that I would get the privilege of acting with Emmy anymore; it’s just one of those things," he said. "We’re going to lose that thread and that’s a loss for us, but that being said, I feel like we have enough other characters and storylines across the board, that they can absorb and it won’t feel like too much of a change to the overall fabric of the show."

When asked if he intended on staying with Shameless until the very end, Monaghan revealed that "as of right now," he has "only signed on for one" more season. "It doesn't mean that I'm opposed to it. It's just... it's a creative thing as much as it is financial," he told ET. "It's just good business as well as looking after what I want to do as an actor."

Monaghan's return to Shameless is a shocking development, after he revealed last year that his Oct. 14 episode would be his final one. In what was supposed to be his farewell episode, Monaghan's Ian heads off to prison where he is reunited with his first love, Mickey Milkovich (Noel Fisher), who has been imprisoned since season six.

"I think that now we've really torn him down, I think it would be very interesting to see him, instead of just looking for a relationship or resolving a relationship conflict, to instead be working on himself and be focusing on that capacity," Monaghan said of his hopes for Ian's journey in the new season. "I think it's interesting that he worked his way up, got his life on track, and then completely wrecked it, unfortunately, and some of that wasn't even fully his fault. But I think that seeing him learn to lead the family, take care of himself and be on the straight and narrow and how to work with that would be a very interesting arc for him, so I'd like to see something outside of just him searching and being single and hooking up with people, that kind of stuff."

It remains unclear whether or not the actor will return before Rossum says goodbye at the end of the current season for one final reunion between Ian and Fiona ("That would be a spoiler, so I wouldn’t be able to say regardless," Monaghan said), whether Fisher will be back in some capacity in season 10 ("That is a question for Noel and the producers") and if this doesn't bode well for Ian and Mickey ("I don’t know if worrying is the right [word]").

Monaghan also discussed whether the upcoming 10th season could be the series' last, saying part of the decision depends on whether the audience remains. "There's conversations every year that it might be the last one, but to be honest, I think that a lot of people have signed on for multiple seasons and I don't know if it's going to be the last year or not," he said. "I think it just depends if people want to keep watching it."

When Monaghan announced his departure from Shameless last year, he shared an emotional Instagram post, revealing the news. 

"All good things come to an end. An old cliche, but one that rings true with a sincerity and clarity especially in moments like these. Everything ends," he wrote one week before his last episode aired. "The next episode will be my last."

The actor, who also stars on Fox's Batman prequel series, Gotham, which is wrapping up after the current fifth season, revealed last year that his decision to leave had been long in the works.

"I have known since [2017], but I didn’t want to give it away too early as I wanted this season to be a surprise for the audience, allowing them to experience Ian’s unsure journey with his character," Monaghan explained. "This role has been a joy to inhabit, a wild and special ride, and I’d like to thank #Shameless as well as you, the viewers, for being there with him."

"Goodbye, Ian Clayton Gallagher. We’ll meet again?" he concluded his post, leaving the door open for a potential return.

It seems Ian's return is far sooner than anyone expected.

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