On a show about debauchery and amorality, anything goes. Want to steal a whole bar? Go for it. Want to fake cancer for charity? Why not? Want to adopt a bastard child you never knew you had? All aboard!
The Gallaghers are TV’s version of that punk you knew in middle school who just got away with everything. If you told the teachers he beat you up, he’d wiggle out of it, then beat you up again. If you caught him selling stolen cellphones in the lobby, he’d make them disappear. You know you’d hate to have to deal with them in real life, but their ridiculous antics make for great television.
The Gallaghers may get away with just about everything you could imagine (and some stuff you probably couldn’t) but the cast behind the show has to live in the real world where morality is a little less flexible. But that doesn’t mean they’re totally innocent. The actors who populate the Shameless set have gotten up to plenty of their own shenanigans. While many of the secrets on this list might not be as dangerous or illegal as the secrets held by their onscreen counterparts, that doesn’t mean that the cast and crew hasn’t been up to stuff while everyone’s been looking the other way. Some plot twists were only added because of real-world problems that the writers had to work around. Some actors had to tell their parents they were going full-on bare. From getting arrested to sleeping with their co-stars, these shameless stars don't want you to know that...
15 Fiona Is Upper Class (And Was Accepted Into The Metropolitan Opera)
While Fiona may know all about getting by with nothing, actress Emmy Rossum has never struggled to pay the bills in quite the same way. Born in Manhattan in 1986, Rossum was a star from an early age, accepted into the Metropolitan Opera at the age of 7 due to her vocal talent. She attended a private high school called “The Spence School” in Manhattan while she honed her music and acting chops. But Emmy does share one thing with Fiona - the lack of a father figure. She was raised by a single mother and has apparently only met her father twice.
In interviews, Rossum has said in the past that she tends to lean towards more glamorous roles – musicals and the like – and that she took on Fiona as a change of pace. Rossum is now married to Mr. Robot showrunner Sam Esmail, and owns a promising Hollywood career as well as a side career as a vocalist due in no small part to her turn on Shameless.
In other words, it doesn’t seem likely that she’ll have to steal from the family savings account to pay the water bill anytime soon.
14 Carl Has A DUI
The most memorable moments of Carl on Shameless revolve around him behind a drug dealer in high school who has no qualms about breaking the law to get what he wants. While his character may have straightened out a bit in recent seasons, it appears that actor Ethan Cutkosky, is only beginning his own run-ins with the law. Earlier this month, Cutkosky was pulled over and booked for a DUI and suspicion of marijuana use. Remember how young Carl was way back in season 1? He filmed that season at just eleven years of age. It’s hard to believe that Carl’s even old enough to drive yet.
While his character was growing up tough in the fictional Shameless universe, it seems the actor was receiving his own real-life initiation into the world of teenage vice. Will we find Ethan walking around with a big bodyguard and enlisting his father as a surrogate drug dealer next?
13 There Are Two Mandys
While regular fans of the show will no doubt identify Emma Greenwell with the role of Mandy Milkovich, if you go all the way back to Season 1, you’ll realize that Mandy wasn’t always Mandy. Well, more accurately, the character stayed the same but she was portrayed by actress Jane Levy. Lip’s hookup buddy with the crazy father and brother was a relatively minor character at the time, but at no point did the show acknowledge that Mandy had become, y’know, a totally different person. It’s strange to think how the show might have turned out differently if the original Mandy had stayed in the picture.
It seems that the showrunners hoped that with so many characters bouncing around, no one would really notice the switch. And while most were thrown off by Greenwell’s first appearance in Season 2, she has since come to be accepted as the one and only Mandy Milkovich.
RIP, Mandy #1.
12 Lip's First Movie Was A Total Flop
It’s hard to remember now, but back before the American version of Shameless went to air in 2011, many of the actors on the show were relative unknowns. Of course, William H. Macy was a significant movie star and a few other actors had notable credits, but for most of the Gallagher children, Shameless was their big break. In 2009, Jeremy Allen White was a working actor who had appeared mostly in short films and bit parts on TV shows like Law and Order, but had never seen any type of starring role. But just before he landed the Shameless gig, he landed a small film role as a junkie named “Charlie” in the feature film Twelve, starring 50 Cent and Rory Culkin.
It was a real film job, but there was only one problem – the movie sucked. Like, really sucked. Based on a novel written by a Manhattan teenager, the movie is a meandering narrative about what happens to a bunch of high school kids one night when a designer drug hits town. The movie was a total flop, panned by critics and barely earning back half of its budget. It currently has a 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, trailing such cinematic masterpieces as Gigli and Troll 2. But at least one good thing came out of this disaster of a film – without White’s exposure, we might never have gotten the same snarky Lip…
11 V Got Preggo In Real Life
Ever wonder why Veronica had twins even though she couldn’t have kids?
Much was made in the first few seasons about V’s desire to have children and her inability to do so, so much so that a bizarre and disturbing storyline was introduced in Season 3 where Kevin is forced to uncomfortably copulate with Veronica’s mother. But when the showrunners discovered shortly afterwards that actress Shanola Hampton was pregnant in real life, they were faced with a conundrum. It wasn’t a coincidence that Veronica suddenly discovered she was able to have kids after all. To fix the problem, the writers decided to say that the fertility drugs had worked so well that she was suddenly going to have twins.
So if it hadn’t been for some odd timing and circumstance, Kev and V might have only had one child instead of three. Turns out that sometimes it takes some real world chaos to make the crazy world of Shameless the way that it is.
10 The Deed Isn't Real
One thing many red-blooded adults love about Shameless is it’s…er…shameless portrayal of intimacy. It’s no holds barred, as people do it whether they’re drunk, high, passed out or about to die. The nudity is quite intense and when two characters go at it, it feels like you can see everything. So it must be real, right?
Well, not quite. While the actors might strip down to almost nothing in front of the camera, they do add some protection. Emmy Rossum has described wearing a so-called “vadge pad” to protect her from accidentally actually doing it with any of her fictional beaus, and sometimes the man will wear a sock for the same purpose.
We have to give them credit though – even if it isn’t quite real, the intimate scenes on the show are some of the most honest portrayals on TV.
9 Ian's Not Gay, And Dated Sierra
The character Ian Gallagher might be gay on the show, but that doesn’t mean that actor Cameron Monaghan, shares the same preferences as his onscreen counterpart. While Ian has repeatedly said he couldn’t so much as imagine himself getting involved with a woman, it turns out that Monaghan has dated one his fellow Shameless co-stars.
Ruby Modine plays Sierra on the series, who was most recently involved in an on-again, off-again relationship with Lip. Given Lip’s propensity to freak out over any type of romantic interference (say, by stalking his ex-professor or flipping out over Sierra’s crummy ex-boyfriend), one can only imagine what would happen if his romantic preferences were undercut by his supposedly homosexual onscreen brother. Maybe it’s a good thing that Modine and Monaghan’s romance reportedly had ended by the time Modine appeared on the show.
Fortunately for everyone, the fictional love lives of the Shameless characters exist separate from real-life romance, as it turns out Lip actor Jeremy Allen White, is involved with another one of his co-stars…
8 Mandy And Lip Are A Real-Life Couple
…Mandy Milkovich. Well, okay, Emma Greenwell, who plays Mandy from Season 2 onwards on the show. Jeremy Allen White and Greenwell have been together in real life since 2011 – which, if you count back, is about the same time that Lip and Mandy started boinking on the show.
While Mandy may not be as central a character as Lip or Ian, who can forget Mickey’s gothy sister who hooks up with Lip until he departs for college? Come to think of it, maybe the show could benefit from borrowing something from the real world. Mandy may have been a bit of a mess, but it’s hard to wonder if she wouldn’t have been the best partner for Lip all along. Considering that since Mandy left town, Lip’s had a crazy vindictive ex, stalked his teacher, lost his job as resident sorority boy, and now been dumped by Sierra for his alcoholic behaviour…
I think the real-life romances are harder to follow than the fake ones.
7 Shameless Is Based On Real Life
As sickening as many of the scenes in Shameless might seem to the average viewer – whether it’s Frank hustling dying women out of their life savings or Lip sleeping with his prof – it seems like they must be fantastical. Surely no one is actually this crazy/cruel/ ruthless in real life, right?
Well, sort of. While most of the shenanigans on the show didn’t actually happen, the whole concept is based on creator Paul Abbott’s life growing up. Abbott was abandoned by his father at age 9, r*ped at age 11, and diagnosed as bipolar before getting his break in British TV. Abbott has stated in the past that the “blue collar” feel of trailer parks and truck drivers would not be an accurate portrayal of the life he lived growing up, preferring to call it “no collar.” The hustlers on Shameless don’t represent the underprivileged, they represent the true dregs of society.
Abbott no longer works on the show and feels that some of the crazy twists and turns over the past few seasons have taken it away from the vision he originally had, but his formative experiences still laid the groundwork for the insane Gallagher clan.
6 Bathroom Emmy
Emmy Rossum got some surprise visitors in her trailer one day. The other cast members had put up a sign labelling her private headquarters as a “Public Restroom.”
Shameless is a show that’s all about the gutter, so it’s no surprise that the pranks on set can hit a little below the belt. This prank was almost worthy of Frank or Kevin, only on the show you’d have to imagine they’d take it even further, maybe installing a hidden camera and selling booty shots on the internet. Nothing that the “Gallaghers” do to each other offscreen could ever compare with what they do to each other onscreen. In reality, the prank was done all in good fun.
While I’m sure it was an uncomfortable experience, having a bunch of random strangers walking in on her naked probably helped her get in character. After all, it’s not as if she’s left much to the imagination on the show…
5 V Is A Pastor's Daughter
Veronica might be all about getting freaky on the show, whether it’s bringing a second woman into her marriage or doing the dirty to pay the bills, but, believe it or not, actress Shanola Hampton’s grew up as a pastor’s daughter. She has said in interviews that while her father may not exactly approve of her flaunting her bare booty on primetime television, he accepts her choices and still loves her. Rev. Gralin Hampton is a Christian pastor for two churches in South Carolina and he is devoted to his faith – but he still claims to take time every Sunday night to catch up on the latest episode of Shameless.
4 There Are No Scripts On Set
Many TV shows and movies are written and filmed all at once, with actors receiving their scripts late and quickly familiarizing themselves with their lines, but not necessarily memorizing them. It’s known that when Marlon Brando gave his Oscar-winning performance in The Godfather, he barely knew a single line of the script, with cheat sheets stapled to the torsos of his co-stars in several scenes. Brando might be one of the most legendary actors of all time, but you won’t see any Shameless cast members getting away with the same dirty trick. Showrunners insist that the actors learn their lines fully – as if learning lines for a play – before reporting to set.
To be fair, the speed of the dialogue, which flows out of most characters like verbal diarrhoea, would be hard to sight-read. And we imagine that having actors who know exactly what they’re about to say helps the show feel more gritty and real. It’s got to be hard to stay in character as a bitter, angry, homeless alcoholic if you’re out there feeling for your next line.
3 Season 8 Was Almost Scuttled Over A Salary Dispute
With its myriad characters and wild shenanigans, most people would consider Shameless an ensemble piece. Most people, that is, except for Emmy Rossum. With controversy erupting over female stars being paid less than their male counterparts throughout Hollywood, in late 2016 Rossum demanded a raise. She demanded that she not only be elevated to the same salary as William H. Macy, but also get a raise sufficient to pay her back for the first seven seasons of the show where Macy received top billing despite fewer lines.
Never mind that Macy was a bankable movie star brought in to give the show credibility with audiences who have been watching Macy perform since Rossum was in diapers. While it may be true that Fiona does have a few more lines than Frank in your typical Shameless episode, Shameless is a show about chaos and it wouldn’t be difficult for the showrunners to flip the script.
The dispute was mercifully resolved before shooting for Season 8 began. Rossum got elevated to the same rate of pay as Macy, and though it doesn’t appear that she received the back pay she was demanding, fans will breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they don’t have to worry about Fiona being killed off just yet.
2 Frank Directed An Episode
While many of the cast members are exclusively on the set to act in the show, William H. Macy is a multi-talented thespian. The long-time movie star originally started out as a theatre actor and has been the director-in-residence at a New York theatre since 2003. He made his feature film directorial debut in 2014 with Rudderless and in Season 5, he took over the directorial reins of Shameless for the episode “Tell Me You F***ing Need Me” (remembered mostly because it’s the episode where Svetlana joins Kev and V’s marriage). Macy called directing the episode “the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” because as someone who was stepping into an already-established universe, he didn’t feel like he had the authority to make drastic changes and had to instead focus on making his episode mesh seamlessly with the rest of the series.
Macy also wrote an episode of Shameless way back in Season 2, and is the only cast member to have performed either writing or directing duties on the show. I guess the real-life Frank is a little more responsible than his onscreen character…
1 Fiona Is A New-Age Pop Singer
Emmy Rossum is more than just Fiona. The actress was actually a musician long before she started acting, performing in an orchestra from a young age as a vocalist. Before ever even auditioning for Shameless, Emmy released her own album of original new-age pop called Inside Out, in 2007. She was 21 when she released the album, and although she had already appeared in several movies by that point, including The Day After Tomorrow, she was not yet the star that she is today.
Even though you may have never even heard of it, Inside Out sold almost 30,000 copies and appeared on the New Age Digital Songs chart. It was successful enough for Rossum to produce a follow-up in 2013, titled Sentimental Journey, which was a cover album. While a third album has yet to be announced, Emmy continues to train as a lyric soprano in her time away from acting.