Shameless is a an American adaptation of the UK television show of the same name and tells the story of the Gallagher family. The show has won a number of awards for its realistic portrayal of low-class families in Chicago’s south side. Shameless has covered everything from drug addiction, mental illness, LGBT issues, as well as the effects of growing up in a dysfunctional family.
The show stars Emmy-winner William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher, the patriarch of the family, and Emmy Rossum as his oldest child. After being picked up by Showtime, Shameless has gone on to garner widespread praise for its realistic and gritty characters, its fearlessness in discussing taboo topics, and its energetic cast who portray their characters seamlessly.
Shameless is a show that isn’t afraid to depict the nasty side of the American dream and how people become stuck in a vicious cycle of poverty and addiction. But what happens behind the scenes?
Here are the 15 Behind-The-Scenes Secrets From Shameless
15. Jimmy’s Head
There is a scene from the Season 3 finale in which Justin Chatwin’s Jimmy is brutally attacked. A prop head was used and the scene was filmed to give the audience the indisputable idea that the character was dead and gone.
However, this didn’t sit quite right with the writers and although Shameless creator John Wells publicly stated that Chatwin’s character was dead, they decided to scrap the scene altogether just in case they decided to bring the character back. The main reason for this is that he still had loose ends to tie up with Fiona.
14. Sharing The Pool
In the episode where Steve and Fiona get hot and heavy in the pool, the location might look familiar to some fans of the 1999 movie Cruel Intentions. The indoor pool featured in Shameless is the same one used by Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe in the aforementioned movie.
The real pool is located at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles and makes an appearance in many films thanks to its fancy Roman-style architecture.
The pool is located in their prestigious gym that was built in 1926 and the hotel has hosted the prestigious Academy Awards multiple times. The hotel has also been featured in films like Bugsy and Chinatown, and TV series such as The West Wing and Mad Men.
13. Off-screen Romance
Throughout the first few seasons of Shameless, Mandy and Lip had an intense on-and-off relationship. This only ended when Mandy hit Karen with her car in order to keep her away from Lip. Mandy was obsessed with being the perfect girl for Lip.
However, Lip treated Mandy in the same horrible way that Karen treated him. Unlike the show, however, Emma Greenwell and Jeremy Allen White, who portray Mandy and Lip, dated six years after meeting on the set of Shameless, in October 2011.
The couple seemed quite happy together and pretty much stayed out of the spotlight for most of their relationship – save for some Instagram posts on Greenwell’s account. Unfortunately, last year the couple called it quits and White began dating American actress Addison Timlin. Let’s just hope their relationship ended on better terms than Mandy and Lip’s did.
12. A Little Less Fiona
In the original UK version of Shameless, Fiona appears in a total of 19 episodes throughout the entire series. This is a stark contrast to the American remake in which Fiona is a main character.
While both versions of Fiona have a relatively similar upbringing, the two end up in different places. After serving her jail sentence, the UK Fiona comes back home sick and tired of taking care of her family. Her car-jacking boyfriend, Jimmy, is also tired of watching the woman he loves be taken advantage of, as she constantly makes sacrifices for her family.
Instead, the British Jimmy and Fiona move to Amsterdam together and end up getting married. Fiona only returns when she learns that her mother, Monica, tried to abort twins. However, one survived and is now being looked after by her six-year-old sister.
11. Public Restroom
Similarly to most long-running TV series, the Shameless cast has become more like a family than just co-workers. This is highlighted by the fact that the set is riddled with pranks pulled by both the cast and the crew on each other.
While on set, one such prank was pulled on Emmy Rossum. When one of her co-stars put a public restroom sign on her trailer door, let’s just say things got a little uncomfortable.
After a long day of work, Rossum went back to her trailer and found a line of strangers and crew outside her door. When she rushed inside, she saw that people had been using her trailer as a toilet all day. Being the great sport she is, Rossum laughed the incident off and refreshed her trailer. Hopefully she’s been plotting her revenge ever since.
10. Wage Gap
Just before the filming of the eighth season, Rossum threatened to quit the show if she didn’t start earning the same as her co-star, William H. Macy. At first, the pay disparity made sense to Rossum since this was her first recurring role and Macy was an Oscar-nominated actor.
However, as the seasons went on and Rossum became a central character in the show, she decided that enough was enough. She demanded to be paid more than Macy to make up for the difference. The dispute threatened the entire production, as Rossum’s Fiona is the show’s central character.
Macy was actually one of her most vocal supporters and thankfully the issue was settled relatively quickly. After much negotiating, the studio agreed with Rossum and production resumed on the newest season of the show.
9. Each Of Frank’s Children Fulfill Behavioral Roles
Since Frank is an alcoholic, drug addict, and all-around degenerate, he mainly relies on his kids to get by. Each of Frank’s children represent a behavioral role traditionally taken on by the children of alcoholic parents.
Fiona takes on the role of the caretaker and watches out for all her siblings, dropping out of high school in order to provide for them. Ian is the “forgotten” child who often feels like the outsider since he is the only one who isn’t biologically related to Frank – he also suffers from bipolar disorder.
Lip is the clown of the family and a straight-A student. He gets accepted to post-secondary on a full scholarship, yet can’t shake his need to sabotage his academic career. Carl is the rebellious scapegoat of the family, since he shared a room with his older brothers, his interests developed much more rapidly than his maturity. Debs is always eager to impress but is treated like a child, which she comes to resent her family for.
8. No Scripts Allowed
Ever wonder how Shameless gets such raw acting from its cast? Well that’s because there is not a single script in sight on-set. According to Emmy Rossum, who plays Fiona, the show is run more like a theater boot camp, with every single actor showing up already knowing their lines by heart.
There are no cellphones allowed while on the job. That kind of discipline makes the actors more likely to study their character when they are unable to break and ask for a line. According to Rossum, everyone on set is expected to act professionally whether they are a kid or a senior – it’s all business on John Wells’ set.
For William H. Macy, filming his scenes in Shameless can be a nostalgic experience. Although the actor was born in Miami, he moved to Chicago for a short period of time in his twenties. While there, he starred in a TV commercial that required him to join AFTRA and within the year he received his SAG membership – for a young actor this is a very big deal.
Starting out his career at a theatre company in Chicago, he earned $100 a week. Since returning to Chicago for the filming of Shameless, he’s now earning $350,000 per episode.
6. The Location of the Gallagher House
If you’ve ever wondered if the Gallagher house actually exists, it does. The real house is located in the south side of Chicago and while you can visit the home, you can’t go inside. The house is also not just a setting, as an older gentleman lives there when they aren’t filming.
There reportedly is a little donation bucket left on the porch for visitors to leave for the current owner. Although it’s tempting to go visit the house, it’s important to remember that the residents of the neighbourhood live in a poverty stricken area and are really struggling the way the Gallaghers’ do.
5. Two Funerals, One Week
While filming the episode in which Fiona’s mother, Monica, dies of a drug overdose, Rossum was struggling with a personal loss of her own. In the same week that her on-screen mother died, her actual grandmother also passed away.
On the show, Fiona is struggling with a mother who abandoned her at the age of nine, forcing Fiona to raise the family herself due to her father’s breakdown after her mother leaves. This results in Fiona confronting him in a very passionate speech regarding how horrible a person her mother really was.
The emotion that was displayed on-screen could be inspired by the loss that Rossum was feeling for her grandmother. While it would seem to be incredibly stressful to work while dealing with a personal loss, Rossum channelled it to deliver one of her most powerful performances yet.
4. Woody Harrelson As Frank Gallagher
Back in 2007 when the show was first announced to be remade, Woody Harrelson was in negotiations to play the role of Frank Gallagher. Harrelson signed up to star in the show, but the pilot dates kept getting pushed back, so he was forced to leave in order to film Zombieland.
At this time, Harrelson’s career wasn’t where it is now, as he was still mostly known for his performance on Cheers. The success of Zombieland led him to more big budget roles in films like The Hunger Games and War for the Planet of the Apes.
Although it would have been great to see Harrelson as the head of the family, Macy is the perfect fit for Frank and has earned multiple Emmy nominations for his portrayal. Harrelson also managed to find more work in television, as he starred with Matthew McConaughey in the first season of True Detective.
3. Shameless Creator Almost Wasn’t On Board
While talks were being held to bring the show to the U.S., the creator was not convinced. In fear of portraying every American stereotype, Paul Abbott, a producer on the original series, was completely against setting the show in a Southern area or a trailer park.
However, once he read the script and learned that it would be set in modern Chicago, Abbott changed his mind. Much like the U.K. version, the show was used to shed light on the extreme poverty that people experience in large urban cities.
2. Liam Gallagher Is Frank’s Biological Child
Initially, there was some confusion as to the relationship of Liam to Frank Gallagher. Despite having two white parents, Liam inherited a dominant black gene from Frank’s side of the family.
It was suspected that Liam was fathered by Frank’s AA sponsor, but it was revealed through a paternity test in season one that he is in fact the child of Frank and Monica. Liam is the youngest of Frank’s children and everyone in the family loves him. When Monica tried to take him with her when she leaves, Liam accidentally ingests some cocaine left out by Fiona.
He now suffers from frequent seizures and will likely suffer developmental problems as he gets older. Although Frank treats him with the same affection as the rest of his kids, he usually relegates Liam to unnecessary racial comments.
1. Liam Gallagher Is Played By Twins
The cutest member of the Gallagher family is played by equally adorable twins, named Brendan and Brandon Sims. After an initial re-casting, Liam has been played by the twins for the entirety of the show.
However in season eight, Liam will be played by 9-year-old Christian Isaiah, as the character eases into a more important and visible role in the show. The re-casting is also due to the fact that Liam is now older on the show than the twins in real life.
Liam is becoming acutely aware of the challenges he faces at his predominantly-white private school and the casual racism instilled in the richer part of town. Instead of serving as the cute factor in Shameless, Liam will now highlight issues like gentrification and the cultural differences that come along with every social class.
Did we miss any other behind-the-scenes secrets from Shameless?
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