Showtime’s Shameless is one of television’s most outrageous series. Season five begins Sunday, January 11 at 9/8c on SHOWTIME®. Series stars William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum spoke to DIRECTV about the upcoming season.
William, your character Frank had a tough time last year. How has this experience changed him coming into season five?
WHM: I had a big question when we first started this series, “Would Frank ever get sober?” And everyone thought it’s incomprehensible—what, where would Frank be if he was sober? And we’re answering that this season. Frank’s out of the hospital and he’s got a new liver. But, it, he pays a dear price when he drinks.
Frank’s relationship with his family seems to have softened a little bit. Are they beginning to accept him?
WHM: I think the damage Frank has done with his family is irreparable. And it would take more than Frank could muster to change their mind. It’s been an interesting season. Frank sober is a different animal altogether.
How do you see [Frank’s sobriety] playing out over the course of the season?
WHM: Acting [sober] has been sort of a joy. Frank sober looks at the world little bit differently. He gets a lot more information without that haze of alcohol. And he deals with the world differently. And, who knows? Maybe Frank will meet someone. He’s still a party animal. And he loves life. And he’s got a seemingly voracious appetite for adventure. So, who knows what’ll happen.
[Let’s] talk about designing Shameless—[what goes] into designing these characters? How long does it take for you to get into character each day?
WHM: Seconds. But, every once in a while, all of us have our moment and that takes some winding up as an actor. All of us, every once in a while, get a scene that just scares the bejesus out of us. These writers are bold, if nothing else. At least once or twice a season, I’m put on my heels with a scene, thinking: “How in the world?” and I don’t want to show up that day. [But], inevitably, the very thing that you are afraid of is where the truth lies. It’s just one of the tough truisms of our business—that which frightens you is probably the thing that you should tackle the hardest. And, inevitably, it turns out to be a joy. It’s great fun.
Emmy, last season felt like a reckoning for Fiona. Can you remind us of some of the major obstacles she went through in season four?
ER: Fiona went through a lot in season four. We saw her at the outset doing quite well, and struggling with the fact that she was doing quite well, and ultimately self-destructing by sleeping with her boss and then his brother. And leaving some drugs out, and getting sent to jail after her brother ingests some of them. So, it was a topsy-turvy year for her where she started to see parts of Frank’s self-destructive nature kind of emerge in herself.
And how have those events changed Fiona coming into this new season?
ER: Coming into this new season, Fiona still has the instincts that she’s battling to get in a fight, to use drugs, to party. But at the same time, she’s thinking better of some of her instincts. So she’s struggling to find a happy medium between who she really is, and what’s good for her.
How has Fiona’s role changed within the family?
ER: She’s definitely not the flawless, mother figure, role model that she once was, having been through everything that she went through. She’s now a felon. She’s a convicted drug offender. So, things aren’t going so well for her. The girl that we knew a couple seasons ago—who was trying to get her GED, and trying to get a leg up in the world, encouraging Lip and Debbie and everyone to do so as well—she no longer can stand on that kind of solid ground anymore. So, we’re seeing her struggle with redefining herself.
Where does your character draw her strength from this season?
ER: Fiona’s always the first one to throw a punch, to yell at someone, and we definitely see her with her fair share of bloody noses this season. But we’re also seeing her take a beat sometimes before she does things, and think about things before she says or does them. That’s a new kind of Fiona that we’re seeing, one who’s slightly more cautious, and adult, and mature. We’re also seeing her being more thoughtful about other people’s feelings. She’s learning how to communicate, which is something that is not a Gallagher strong suit. They don’t do therapy, they don’t really talk about things. They scream and throw things. And that’s been the Gallagher way. But we’re seeing her start to use her words and ask questions about herself and other people around her. And so this is a different kind of Fiona that we’re seeing.
Season five of Shameless premieres Sunday, January 11 at 9/8c on SHOWTIME.