‘American Rust’: Mark Pellegrino Teases More Complications in the Virgil-Grace-Del Trianglee

Mark Pellegrino as Virgil Poe in American Rust
Matthias Clamer/SHOWTIME

Billy Poe (Alex Neustaedter ) is awaiting his trial in prison, for a murder he didn’t commit (his best friend Isaac, played by David Alvarez, did) on American Rust.

As you can imagine, his parents, Grace (Maura Tierney) and Virgil (Mark Pellegrino), aren’t exactly going to see eye-to-eye about what to do next. But is it a good thing that the chief of police, Del Harris (Jeff Daniels), wants to help because of how he feels about Grace? Or might that just end up making things more complicated?

Pellegrino teases what’s ahead.

Billy was denied bail, and now he’s in a pretty tough spot. How will Virgil and Grace be handling that?

Mark Pellegrino: Grace and Virgil have a bit of a parting of ways in the way that they look at the problem and the way of solving the problem. Grace is going to start turning to other resources to save Billy.

It seems like Virgil doesn’t know how to let Grace go. How would you describe their relationship at this point?

Yeah. They connect on a very visceral level. They met when they were very young. They probably had great sex. He made her laugh and those great elements, some of them, are still there, and they’re really hard to let go of. There’s also the aspect of Virgil that likes the idea of marriage and likes the idea of a kid, likes the idea of a family, he just can’t make it a reality. So the idea still connects him. If you saw the one episode where Virgil comes outside in his undies, he’s got Grace tattooed over his heart and he’s got his son tattooed on his body. They’re indelible in Virgil. He’s too immature to make it a coherent thing.

Mark Pellegrino as Virgil, Maura Tierney as Grace in American Rust

Dennis Mong/SHOWTIME

What would it take for him to let Grace go?

I think Grace is going to have to do it.

There is the matter of Del, so what can you tease about what’s coming up with that triangle?

Oh my God, it gets complicated. Del has been sort of the stand-in dad in a lot of ways and that’s going to cause a lot of friction with Virgil. And Del is going to be put in a position to have to bite off more than he can chew. In order to do that, he’s going to go down a rabbit hole pretty soon.

Alex Neustaedter as Billy, Mark Pellegrino as Virgil in American Rust

Dennis Mong/SHOWTIME

There was that scene in the car when Billy had that line about Virgil running away from his problems, and we saw how Virgil reacted to that…

Virgil was trying to save Billy’s life in the best way he knew how, and for Virgil, this was stepping up, this was being a dad in the best possible sense only to get his past thrown in his face and his son’s resentment thrown in his face and just to feel no sense of connection or a real love from his son. That was a very hurtful moment, so Virgil lashed out. That’s what Virgil does when he’s hurt, he lashes out. That’s what men-children do. Rather than let it hit him deeply and take that information inside and change, he attacked Billy. I know that’s something he goes home and regrets and will try to try to make amends for at some point.

He even turns the car around and yells again.

The thing about Virgil is he’s a very impulsive guy, as you can see. He sleeps with random women. He sleeps at random houses. There’s not an endgame in mind with him. There’s just the moment, and that can be really exciting sometimes, to live around that. But the other side of the coin is exactly what you saw with Billy: The anger comes out and there’s no filter. There’s no thought that further down the line, this is burning a bridge that he can’t reconstruct. It’s just vent and leave and do what he always does, which is run away. But I think that’ll come back and have an impact on Virgil.

It’s just him doing what he wants, like when he shows up to intimidate everyone when the house is up for sale.

Yeah, and that’s all he knows. He can’t go to the banker and negotiate. He doesn’t have the equipment for that. What he knows is to go up there and make things go his way, and luckily the law enforcement happened to be on his side because the sheriff was in love with his wife.

What can you tease about what’s coming up?

The proverbial s**t is going to really hit the fan. Del is going to go down a rabbit hole. It’s really good writing when something happens, a character tries to fix that and it only makes things worse, and then he tries to fix that thing and it only makes things worse. That’s pretty much what’s going to happen. All the storylines are going to merge by the finale and in an exciting way, in a way I don’t think you see coming. And Virgil has a surprise coming up his sleeve. Just watch out for it.

American Rust, Sundays, 10/9c, Showtime