Curiosity is something all creatives need in order to thrive — thankfully, Ethan Cutkosky has this in abundance. Whether it’s on set, in the studio or at the skatepark, Cutkosky is driven by a hunger to experiment and learn. Since establishing his acting career as one of the Gallagher kids on Shameless, Cutkosky has found the ability to express himself through music, fashion as well as filmmaking. Schön! speaks to the young star about his childhood, his aspirations and more.
Hello Ethan! Let’s start by going back to Shameless. How did you find saying goodbye when the show wrapped?
COVID was really a deterrent from being able to understand and look at how long we’ve worked together for, which sucked, but was also good in its own way. We were just so happy to be able to make it through the season without getting shut down. It was at a time before most people were vaccinated so our production had to be extra cautious, and productions were scarce, so we were just grateful to be able to have made it through in this hard time. Now that it’s months after the show, I’ve been able to look back at spending eleven years on set with all of these people – all the love, challenges, sweat, tears that you’ve put in, and it’s just a really special thing to be able to look back on.
How was your experience as a child actor? What do you think you learned from beginning so early?
I never really felt like what the term of a ‘child actor’ is supposed to be. My parents worked really hard to make sure I would be able to have as much of a childhood as possible while being able to also work. I was still in school and working simultaneously. I’ve been able to see those lessons more as I come into my young adulthood and realising there was a lot of back and forth, but I’m glad I didn’t have the perspective of ‘child actor’ – I just felt like I was a child at work, and I got to have some really amazing experiences.
You have worked with some amazing actors; at the moment, who is your dream co-star and why?
My dream co-star….there’s so many! Denzel Washington is an amazing actor, Robert De Niro – his early career is so inspiring to me. My crush is Lily Collins, I’ve said that before – I know she’s married. She’s a great actress. I would love to work with her.
Let’s move on to Going Places. What attracted you to the film?
The director and writer Max Chernov and hearing and seeing his pitch. He then allowed me to come onto the film three weeks into pre-production before we started shooting, which was awesome. As soon as I read the script and met everyone who was part of the production, I knew this was going to be a great project. For you to be able to run a production with so many young people, it’s your first production – that takes courage and talent. I applaud Max for doing such an amazing job at making it such a comfortable environment for everyone on set. We got over 100 pages done in 17 days – that is not easy!
You were also a producer on that project. Why did you decide to begin producing? And how did you find the experience?
I’ve always wanted to create film and be a part of the behind-the-scenes of projects I’m working on. That stemmed from a very young age when I was filming videos with my friends – I remember the first horror movie I did was The Unborn, and I tried to make a horror film with my friends, in my garage – we were making fake blood and all of that. Then I got into writing shorts with friends and doing skate videos. By the time I was 17 or 18, Shameless production allowed me to come on and shadow a few of the directors in the later years. I was really grateful. I learned so much from that and just being on set for so many years allows you to see just how much work goes into it, how every single crew member is so important and critical to making a project come together.
You started releasing singles a few years ago; what inspired your entry into music?
Music is something that comes from my soul. It’s something that is my spirit talking. Music makes people less alone. I’ve always wanted to make music, but didn’t feel the confidence in myself that I could. End of 2019, beginning of 2020, I began to push myself into it. The only other option is not to do it, and as far as I was concerned, that wasn’t an option. I’ve always wanted to write, create, direct — to portray ideas from within that make people feel less alone.
Why did you make the decision to be independent from a label?
That wasn’t a conscious choice, per se. I felt like if that option were to appear, it would be a conversation I would entertain, of course. As I said, I want the music to come from my soul, and I wanted to have the room to be able to experiment and learn on my own. I’ve learned so much about myself through making music over the last two years. I have more experience and precise questions I would know to ask should that opportunity ever present itself.
Can you explain the cover art for your single Erase Me? Generally speaking, how do you find visuals to go along with your music?
We found this guy on Instagram — tjo, or tjohnatan on Instagram. He’s from Canada, he’s my age and we started reaching out to him because we saw the insane graphics he’s doing. We shot the video on film and sent it over to him and he started drawing. We gave him carte blanche to create the visuals; he understood the vibe we were going for. He’s since had collaborations with Lil Uzi and other big artists.
For visuals, it depends. The song has to speak to the idea. Each song I release has a color. I think Erase Me was the most colorful – it had all different patterns and colors. Comprehend was just straight red, dark, shadowed, etc.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Oh gosh….my music is all over the place. I just found this new song by Nothing But Thieves. I’ve been listening to the new [Mac Miller] Faces album — favourite song on there is Diablo or Apparition. Honestly, I love Willow Smith – her music is amazing. I just went and saw The Neighbourhood in concert for the first time. I’m a big fan.
You have your own streetwear brand, Khaotic Collective. What does your style and fashion mean to you?
Khaotic was created in 2018. It was another way for my spirit to speak through things I love. The whole point of art in my opinion is to shake the narrative, make people questions the narrative. That was my goal with Khaotic. To have graphic, video, styles that make people question the narrative but still look cool. It’s a skater brand; I grew up skating so it’s a natural reflection of me. I want to step into a more high fashion space – I’ve stepped away from Khaotic for the moment to let it steep and brew and figure out how to do that.
How do you keep motivated?
The best way to keep motivated is to stay healthy and take care of yourself! It’s so cliché. I’ve heard it my whole life. As I grow into a young adult, I am learning how truthful that is. If you lay around all day, drinking all night – you’re not going to feel motivated. You’ll feel better by getting up early, working out, getting your mundane tasks done. It will only help your creativity.
When you aren’t in the studio or on set, what do you do to relax?
I love working out – that’s a big thing in my life. I love being at the gym and staying healthy. Hiking. I love nature. I love skateboarding. Photography is really fun. My true passion is being on set and working on something.
What are you looking forward to right now?
I am looking forward to keeping myself motivated, on track, working with the friends I surround myself. I am excited to keep at the same pace.
Going Places is currently in post-production.