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By Victoria Namkung
Photographs by Art Streiber | September 29, 2011 | People
ON MACY: Dress shirt, Louis Vuitton ($515). 295 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills. Dress pants ($195), silk tie ($95), leather belt ($85) and leather loafers ($225), Boss Black. Hugo Boss, 414 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills. Bracelet, Ulinx Jewlery (price on request). ON ROSSUM: Star-print gown, Dolce & Gabbana ($3,695). 312 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills. Earrings, Chopard (price on request). 328 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills. Patent-leather boots, Gucci ($1,550). 347 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills
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Though both are successful actors, William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum were complete strangers until they were cast on Showtime’s superbly irreverent hit show Shameless, which debuted early this year to rave reviews. Today, however, their easy going banter and warm friendship are a far cry from the behavior of the characters they play. On the show, Macy is Frank Gallagher, an alcoholic and absentee single father of six, while Rossum embodies his eldest daughter, Fiona, who parents the quirky brood while navigating her 20s. We sat down with the costars and listened in as they talked about the show’s second season, swear jars, flasks on the red carpet and why other actors are jealous of their current gig.
Shameless has struck a chord with audiences; what can they expect in the second season?
EMMY ROSSUM [TO MACY]: You know more than me because you’re in the writer’s room.
WILLIAM H. MACY: It’s not going to follow the British version at all this season—it’s pretty wild. The family itself has a dynamic that’s so common. So many people grew up with an alcoholic mother or father and a split family. Most people in the world grow up with financial burdens weighing on them. You combine that with the style we’re using, which is super realism combined with farce, and it’s a brand-new animal.
ER [TO MACY]: One of the things I’ve never told you is that you treat all the actors the same. There’s no patronizing or behaving the way I think a father would treat his children. You don’t pretend to be wiser. You even ask the youngest actors who are 10 and 11, “Hey, was that funny?” You really set the tone and promote us working together. It goes hand in hand with the crazy sh-t we’re doing on the show.
So many of the actors are children. What is it like working with kids on such adult subject matter?
WM [TO ROSSUM]: I don’t know if you remember this, but early on in a read-through we did, Emma [Kenney, 12, who plays the other Gallagher daughter, Debbie] was reading her part…
ER: She always has the most notes on her script.
WM: It was a table read, and she had this emotional scene, and she burst into tears and could barely get through the speech. We were all like, Wow, maybe next time we need to do our homework. [The children] are great, and their parents are really hip to the process.
ER: On set we started a swear jar. You could swear in the scene, but if you swore off-screen or between takes you had to pay. I think it was five dollars for the f-word and one or two dollars for sh-t or damn. I was smart enough to give each of the kids a 50 before we started shooting. They really made bank last year.
WM: By the third episode everyone said, “F-that.”
ON MACY: Dress shirt, Perry Ellis ($49.50). Macy’s, 750 W. 7th St., LA. Dress pants ($195), silk tie ($95) and leather belt ($85), Boss Black. Hugo Boss, 414 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills. ON ROSSUM: Snowprint dress, Gucci ($2,250). Beverly Center, 8500 Beverly Blvd., LA. Camelia Nervure cuff, Chanel ($36,700). 400 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills. Ring, Vhernier (price on request). Leather boots with knee-pad detail, Gio Diev ($1,750)
|ON MACY: Mohair suit, Prada ($1,985). 343 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills. Dress shirt, Perry Ellis ($49.50). Macy’s, 750 W. 7th St., LA. Silk petit damier tie, Louis Vuitton ($195). 295 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills. ON ROSSUM: Lozenge-embroidered dress, Louis Vuitton ($6,800). 295 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills. Pavé Midnight Mélange hoop earrings, David Yurman ($1,950). 371 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills. Gloves, The Row (price on request). Barneys New York, 9570 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills|
Did you draw on your own experiences from growing up to portray such a unique family?
ER: I think every family is functionally dysfunctional. I always wanted a picket fence growing up, but I was raised in New York City with a single mom so I didn’t have that. I didn’t have any siblings, so I really love that about the show. I’ve formed such a bond—especially with the little ones. They text me all the time and call me for advice about girlfriends or getting their ears pierced. It’s so fun, and I just love them and want a family for myself one day, so I’m definitely learning what to do and what not to do. The swear jar is going to come in handy.
WM: You have bonded. On-screen is somewhat similar to off-screen: I’m the odd man out because I can’t keep up. I let it slip last year that my mom was a drinker, and then I clammed up about it. Then I realized my mom would be so pleased to know we were talking about her. My mom was funny, and she did funny things when she was in her cups. I’ve imitated her a good bit playing Frank.
ER: That’s funny, because a lot of Fiona was my mom.
WM: Well, moms are big business.
ER: For me, this is the most fun I’ve ever had. There’s a realism to how they let me approach playing Fiona, both in the physical nature of how the character looks and also in the rawness I get to play her with, which isn’t really encouraged in a lot of other mediums for women.
WM: It’s up there for me. A lot of my fellow actors are really jealous. The style is not completely new, but it’s newish, and the different styles of shooting are really run-and-gun. There’s a lot of farce to it—it sneaks in, in a very subtle and British way. The subject is really adult, and it took guts for Showtime to put it on.
You both have extensive theater backgrounds. How did that help prepare you for this type of show?
WM: The way we shoot is 80 percent handheld.
ER: And the way we prepare is more like theater. A lot of time in films or TV shows an actor will show up and not know every single word. We’re not allowed to have sides or minis [a version of the script that includes only the scenes being shot that day], so unless you want to be the dork who’s carrying an entire script around, you need to know every word. [You have to be] much more prepared across the board. It’s a bit of a shock for our guest stars.
WM: The writers get us a script a week before, and that’s it.
|Black reversed satin and chiffon jumpsuit, Yves Saint Laurent ($1,990). 326 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills. Opera gloves, Donna Karan ($695)|
With awards season here, how do you feel about fame and the red-carpet experience?
WM: It’s stressful. My key to the red carpet is the “three Fs”: food, flask and pharmaceuticals. You can get through just fine.
ER: I can’t say I disagree. I don’t know if you ever get used to it. It’s strange because it’s not like paparazzi. You do expect to see photographers, and you get dressed and you’re ready, but there’s a certain uncomfortable feeling. I don’t really care about the hot designer; I just wear what I like and hopefully people like it. People are red-carpet stars, and I’m not sure of their profession—now you can be a celebrity without doing anything. It’s a bizarre new world. I always have my eyebrows combed when I leave the house. [To Macy] You must have it with [Macy’s wife, actress] Felicity [Huffman].
WM: They don’t bother us too much. But we just took a European vacation, and they are crazy for Desperate Housewives in Paris. I saw very hip, cool people make fools of themselves when they saw Felicity.
Speaking of Felicity, you are known for having a solid marriage in Hollywood, which can be challenging. What’s your secret?
WM: No secrets. Marry Felicity.
ER [TO MACY]: So it’s just meeting your right match?
WM: I think so.
ER: I grew up without my dad. Maybe it seems like more Hollywood couples break up, but there’s a lot of divorce generally, too. I have friends who are “civilians,” and they break up, too.
WM: Never marry someone who is not nice. With Felicity, we talk the talk and walk the walk. We love talking about acting, technique and script analysis, and we help each other. I don’t know if it’s right for all couples in this business, but it works for us.
ER: When I’ve come over to your house, she’s barefoot in the kitchen and so down-to-earth. She’s lovely, and the girls [Sofia, 11, and Georgia, 9] are gorgeous.
WM: I got lucky.
ER: You have a really, really lovely family I can hopefully emulate.
How would you describe each other?
WM [TO ROSSUM]: One of my favorite moments with you last year was when it dawned on you I’m number one on the call sheet, and you’re doing all the work. It was a great moment. You’re there first, and you’re the last to leave. You’re the spiritual center of the whole cast. Everyone revolves around you.
ER: I just think you’re really the crazy clown in the middle of all our happenings. You couldn’t find someone more focused, happy to be there or sober on set. There’s no ego, and for someone who’s had your kind of success and the cool roles you’ve had, your humility is really amazing. You’re always on time, and you never complain. You come in on your Harley-Davidson happy to be there. We have so much fun, and it starts at the top.
Rossum’s styling by Penny Lovell for The Wall Group Macy’s styling by Linda Medvene
Makeup by Christy Coleman for The Wall Group
Rossum’s hair by Frank Galasso for soloartists.com/Joico Design Collection
Grooming by Stephanie Hobgood for Exclusive Artists Management
Manicure by Beth Fricke using French Quarter for Your Thoughts (on hands) and Give Me Moor (on feet) by O.P.I
Producer: Emily Roth/Producit Inc.
Production Coordinator: Kate Corkum-Amengual
Retouch Artist: Angie Hayes/thehappypixelproject.com
Digital Tech: Eric Vlasic/With Technology