William H. Macy really loves describing his new show. The recently renewed Showtime series Shameless lets him do all the bad things you’re not supposed to do. When anyone asks him about it, he says, “It’s shameless!” After a panel for the Television Critics Association last month, I asked for a few more details about being shameless.
CraveOnline: Is shameless a good or admirable thing?
William H. Macy: Oh yeah. Shame is a terrible emotion. Shame and guilt, nothing good ever comes out of those.
CraveOnline: What about having standards?
William H. Macy: Well, to do a little bit of a pun on it, Joan Cusack talks about it all the time, she loved the fact that our show is called Shameless and that the characters had no shame. She found that so refreshing. That’s what’s great about our series. On one hand, these people have a very casual relationship with the law and with the rules, but on the other hand, it’s highly moral. There is a code and they don’t break it and they get each other’s back. They comfort each other. It’s filled with love and it’s the last place you would expect to find it, and it catches you off guard too. It’s really interesting what we’ve got going here. I keep trying to say what it’s like. It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen the first four episodes and Joan Cusack in one of them is a great example. She plays an agoraphobic, she can’t leave the house and she did the funniest thing trying to get out of the house. It was just knee slapping funny. Then she turns on a dime and broke into tears because she’s an agoraphobic which isn’t funny really. Boy, those two things together I found amazing.
CraveOnline: Are the party scenes like a party on the set?
William H. Macy: It’s a tight cast. John Wells is the smartest guy I ever met. He did great things. Mark Mylod directed our pilot. He directed the British version also. When we got there, there was no craft services. If you wanted something to eat, you walked onto set, used our kitchen. And there was as sign there, “Clean up after yourself,” and we had to. So no craft services, we had our kitchen. At one point in the middle of the week, they said, “That’s it for the afternoon. We got you a bunch of tickets, go play miniature golf. We’re sending you to miniature golf and there are some batting cages there.” So they hauled us over there in a van and the actor in me is thinking, “All right, what the heck is this? Am I supposed to do this in character? Am I supposed to develop my character? What horseh*t is this? What am I supposed to do.” Little Emma who plays my next to youngest daughter, was playing miniature golf and she couldn’t play to save her soul, so she’d hit it and say “Do over,” hit it again, “Do over,” hit it again, “Do over.” I’m sitting there and I’m thinking, “This is so boring.” Finally I just pushed her out of the way and I played through. When I got home, I though, “I think we did do some character work there.” We made fun of each other at the batting cages. I said, “No, you’re doing it wrong!” Then I tried to show them how to do it and I threw my arm out.
CraveOnline: How long did it take to grow the hair?
William H. Macy: About six months. 6-8 months, something like that. I’ve been cutting it now so that it matches.
CraveOnline: Are you disappointed that Filliam H. Muffman has fallen off the tabloid radar?
William H. Macy: For now. We’re down, but not out.
CraveOnline: When will Filliam H. Muffman make a comeback?
William H. Macy: I don’t know. It’s begging for a pop song, isn’t it? Or a country western perhaps.
CraveOnline: How large a section of dialogue is Frank’s drunken rants?
William H. Macy: We have set the bar rather high. Everyone comes to set ready to rock n’ roll. We know the lines solidly. You know the sides that you have on set? We don’t do that. No sides on our set, so know the lines. So I feel humiliated that I haven’t done this my whole career but I know the lines solidly by the time I get there and it’s transformed the whole experience for me. I love acting 10 times more than I used to because I know the lines inside and out. In the second episode I have two full pages, maybe two and a quarter and I did it all in a piece.
CraveOnline: What local spots have you discovered in Chicago?
William H. Macy: I did 10 years in Chicago. I know it well. The Gaslight of course on Halsted St. My theater was the St. Nicholas Theater which was then the Steppenwolf theater and now it’s a parking lot.
CraveOnline: Did you ever think you’d have a TV show going on there?
William H. Macy: Boy, that’s sweet. Going back to shoot in Chicago, but Chicago was always good to me. I got a lot of work in Chicago.