Actors are fond of proclaiming that their co-stars are like family — seldom specifying Brady or Manson — but as far as Emmy Rossum’s concerned, the cast members playing her five younger siblings on Showtime’s “Shameless” are as close to the real thing as she’s going to get.
Except for Jeremy Allen White, who plays the genius Lip, “all of the kids are only children, which I think is interesting,” Rossum, an only child herself, said in a phone interview last week.
“I feel like you grow up with a little bit of like a loneliness factor, which makes you crave being around big families, being around other kids, makes you basically crave siblings,” she said.
On “Shameless,” Rossum, 24, is Fiona Gallagher, the closest thing there is to an adult in a household all too loosely headed by a drunk named Frank (William H. Macy) in the series adapted from a British hit. And though Macy’s Frank is so, well, shameless that you can almost smell him coming through the screen, it’s the interaction among Fiona and her Gallagher siblings that’s rendered “Shameless” irresistible.
Working together “was basically satisfying some deeper personal desire that we all had to have siblings and have that sibling craziness,” Rossum said. “So I feel like that side of it came easily to us, the wanting to spend time together, the wanting to bond that would lead to this kind of on-screen believability as a family that have functioned, or dysfunctioned, together for quite a long time.
“I don’t consider them child actors or kids,” said Rossum, a former child performer who nevertheless acknowledges feeling “a little protective” of her young co-stars.
“They really do work as conscientiously and committedly as an adult. I’ve been really impressed by them. I mean, little Emma Kenney (who plays Debbie) comes in every week, and she has notes all in the margins” of the script “about the feelings that she wants to play, and she has stress marks” on particular words. And she’s clearly all written it herself. I mean, it’s not her parents that are coaching her or doing it, because it’s so intuitive to her.
“And little Ethan (Cutkosky, who plays Carl) comes in and just nails every joke,” Rossum said.
“We do spend a lot of time (together) off-set as well,” she said. “My house is kind of a cast house now, which is kind of what I’ve always wanted. Everyone comes over and barbecues and jumps in the pool and everyone eats out of my fridge and sleeps on my floor and we have sleepovers and it’s totally just like a happy experience.”
It’s one that will continue after next Sunday’s finale, Showtime having recently announced an order for Season 2.
Though someone may be missing next year, Rossum hinted.
“It was a real shock when I read the finale, because it’s different from the British series,” she said. “I think that (the writers have) really earned that change, and it will be really interesting and kind of shocking to see (one character) do what they do and kind of be off the series.”
Also, “I think we’re going to see that the people we initially thought were good are not and people we came to think were not actually probably are,” she said, adding, “I think that at the end of the season Fiona ends up where she’s supposed to be.”
Which doesn’t mean there won’t be things for her to do in Season 2.
“Nothing’s perfect, either. There are a lot of questions.”