You love them, we love them, and it's high time Emmy recognized them. We're talking about the TV actors and actresses who have yet to be recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, despite drawing us in week in and week out with their awe-inspiring ability to make us laugh, cry, or a weird combination of both. So every day here at Hollywood.com, we're going to be saluting those on the small screen who deserve an Emmy nomination, longshot status be damned. Today, we cast our ballot for Shameless star Emmy Rossum.
There seems to be an unspoken rule in the Emmy-nominating community that age is somehow a component of one’s eligibility for a winged trophy. Most winners, especially women, are folks who’ve been working in the business for years, finally getting their due praise years after they hit their original stride. It’s for this reason – and a few others – that 25-year-old Emmy Rossum faces some steep competition to nab even a nomination. And that’s a crying shame.
While it’s unlikely the tragic heroine of Showtime’s dingy family drama Shameless will earn her rightful praise, her journey on the series has earned her the prerequisite age. As 21-year-old Fiona Gallagher, Rossum leads an entire brood of South Side Chicago children – her brothers and sisters ranging from toddler age to age 17 – in the absence of their addict mother and their present, but drunken father, Frank (William H. Macy). She packs the lunches, checks homework, plays housekeeper and fatherly-advice-dispenser, holds down multiple jobs, shimmies her way through tough, penniless winters, and still manages to have a love life on the side (because it’s Showtime, we can’t have drama without a little sex on the kitchen floor). Fiona may be just a few years out of high school, but she’s got more life experience than most 60-year-olds.
But that’s simply the circumstance of the series, and Emmys aren’t handed out for playing a character under duress – if they were, every victim on Law & Order: SVU would have a rack of awards. It's the internal struggle that comes with Fiona’s place as the de facto Gallagher matriarch that brings out the best in Rossum. Especially after what happened during the most recent season.
Though she’s clearly one of the most stout-hearted characters in a world of petty thieves, town drunks, and teenage delinquents, Fiona struggles with keeping to the straight and narrow. She can only keep up with raising a large family of rambunctious children abandoned by their parents, while struggling with sacrificing her own future and dreams to scrape pennies to keep the family afloat, for so long before she cracks. After all, she’s still under 25.
In Season 2, she’s given up the love of her life, and in her frazzled loneliness, turns to questionable, Frank Gallagher-esque behaviors. We find her running around with her new, promiscuous (and shady) gal pal Jasmine (Amy Smart), getting her jollies off of wealthy men (like the under-used James Polk) and having actual sex on the beach. But wealthy business men have a habit of always leaving town, so when Fiona gets even lonelier, she gets lower. She gets as low as returning a single mother’s purse after stealing the $500 in cash right out of it and lying to her face, later sleeping with her old, now-married flame from high school, and running from his surprisingly violent wife throughout Chicago’s Canaryville neighborhood. She quickly begins to realize that while she’s not about to abandon her family like Frank did, there are certain familial traits she can’t manage to escape. The season sees her struggle with the question: Can she stop herself from truly being her father’s daughter?
But it gets worse. When Fiona’s mother Monica returns to the house, promising to take back the motherly duties so Fiona can regain a little of her life, our heroine enjoys a brief respite and even starts pursuing her own curtailed goals. And it’s this break that earns her such ire from her older siblings, who’ve come of age with her as their motherly figure and expect her to put everyone else before her own needs... always. When Monica jumps off the deep end again, and eventually tries to commit suicide, Fiona is left in the wake, wrestling with her own emotions about her mother's behavior and the blame emanating from her teenage brothers.
Fiona’s load of issues is too much for one person, and taking on such a character is a feat for only the most talented, nimble actress. Rossum is just that. She tackles the mile-a-minute, inconsistent road of the Gallagher family rock with ease, switching from hot-and-heavy romance to motherly affection to stern, familial protector to losing her mind in the span of a single episode. She struggles with the feminist issue of being the eldest daughter and therefore being charged with the duty of taking her mother’s duty while her brothers frolic with their teenage tryst-mates. Rossum juggles the actress’ equivalent of her character’s harrowing load and she does so flawlessly.
With her at the helm of the Gallagher brood, we’re not just watching the young girl struggle and oohing and ahhing at the shocking events of her life. We’re there with her. We’re in it. With Rossum, we live in that broken-down South Side house with the smudgy windows and frayed curtains. We were weighing the pros and cons of eating Carl’s slain bald eagle for Thanksgiving dinner. We’re in the family instead of looking through the dingy window making judgements, so when Fiona is broken, so are we.
Rossum is carrying a load worthy of the most seasoned actress without giving us any sign of breaking a sweat. So, she may be a “baby” in the acting game, but she’s more than earned the battle wounds to bump her up to the Emmy-worthy faze of her career. Come on, voters. Emmy needs an Emmy.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
Shameless Season Finale Recap: This Is What a Family Looks Like
Shameless Post Mortem: Star Shanola Hampton on Family, Chicago, and That Finale Shameless Recap: Thanksgiving With a Side of Tragedy
Be warned, this interview contains spoilers from the Season Two finale.
The Shameless season finale left us with few questions and despite some of the more dire circumstances (like Monica getting out of dodge, again, and Frank's clear regard for alcohol over his family, again) the season ended with a seldom seen sense of peace for everyone's favorite South Side Chicago family. Clearly, we couldn't just let the finale lie, so Hollywood.com spoke with Shanola Hampton (Veronica) to get a more in depth picture of what all this sudden togetherness means for the Gallaghers and their extended family of neighbors.
The finale ends on such a happy, sweet note. What do you think that means for the series overall, after two seasons of non-stop tumult? I think what you see, and I think this is a central theme in our entire show and in a lot of the episodes, no matter what the people in this world go through, no matter how crazy it gets, no matter the fights and the ugliness that happens, you will see people who love each other to the core and will always be there for one another. So at the end of the day, when all of that is said and done, they have love and they have loyalty. That’s really all you can hope for in life. To have people around you that are that loyal and that love you that much. Fiona and V have such a friend chemistry, but what's unique about their bond and how has it grown in Season Two? What’s great about Veronica and Fiona is there’s no judgment. But Veronica especially will voice her opinion, and really want to stare Fiona in the right direction. But you never see Fiona really get angry with Veronica, because she knows it’s coming from a place of love ... Both Veronica and Fiona trust each other so much because they really are each other’s only true friends. If you have one true friend, you have more than your share. You know you’re going to get the truth both ways. You know that neither one of them is saying it because they want to hurt you ... When that Jasmine character shows up, she tries to get Fiona, Veronica’s best friend, to do all sorts of shenanigans. Veronica points out, ‘This girl is not right.’ And I just want to point that Veronica was right about Jasmine! ... I really like that they have two girl friends on television that are not just like, "Oh, we’re going out for martinis and yadda-yadda-yadda," but shows more of what a friendship is between women. It is a really nice relationship to watch. Season Two held a lot of change and some strife for Kevin and Veronica, where do you hope to see them in Season Three? I’m so protective of the relationship between Kevin and Veronica. I think that they really are one of the most stable and loving couples on television, regardless of the other craziness that happens. You see a true, pure love between the two of them. So I definitely don’t want anything that is going to cause them to break up. That’s Number One. I really do love those two together. As a fan, I’m a fan of Kevin and Veronica’s love ... I loved having the Ethel in our family dynamic. I loved having our little house and our little family. I would either love to see more of what would happen if she came back and we raised her child as our own, or something to the effect of where we do have a family of our own. That can be little cousins to the Gallaghers. I want a Tomorrow Person!
Many people have told me they "don't get" Shameless, what would you say to them? You know what’s funny about it? I haven’t had that experience, to be honest with you. Maybe it’s because of what our fan base is — actually, I can’t even say that, because our fan base expands through so many different ethnicities and age groups. I have walked down the streets of New York, and have in the same five minutes had an African-American 20-year-old girl come and tell me how much she loves the show, and then a 55-year-old Jewish man tell me how much he loves the show ... Most people have said how Frank is a lot like their dad, to which I am like, "Oh, you poor thing!" Or, "This is such a depiction of my family,"in a certain way. Or, "I feel a bit of me in Fiona.” So, it’s been more that people relate to it than they don’t understand it. Of course it’s not a show for everyone, but I think people have been so drawn to it because it’s so raw, and because most of America is under the poverty line, not above it. So they really are able to relate to this family more. Maybe not quite all the outlandish behavior, maybe not some of the ways they go about getting money, but they definitely relate...
You lived in Chicago, do you feel that the series is showing a faithful depiction of the neighborhood? I think the neighborhood we are depicting — we shoot in that neighborhood. And I think what has made Shameless be successful is that we’re showing a different side of America, but one that is very relevant, and one that is very real. So it’s really nice for us to go to this neighborhood, and those houses in this area where people have less, and really bring our show there and also bring light to other places. What's it like working so... intimately with Steve Howey? Steve Howey is probably the funniest man in Hollywood. For real. He is just that person that can make you laugh at all times. He is so silly, so crazy, and he’s also very protective of me and really watches out for me. Especially when we have the more sexual situations. He’s just the easiest partner. I am working with the best partner in the entire world ... He was a lot more nervous at the beginning of it than I was. There was one scene where there was actual sweat there, and I’m a germophobe. So, that was a little much. That was not the best of our moments. I don’t think you ever get fully comfortable doing those scenes. Both of us are married to great people, and luckily we get along with each other’s spouses. But it still doesn’t make it — when you’re not with your significant other in the bedroom, even when it’s for fake, it’s still like, "Okay, this is kind of weird."
Looking back at the last two seasons, how do you see Kevin and V's progression?
The first season was a nice framework of getting to know the family, and kind of getting to dab a bit into who the characters are. And this season specifically, we were able to really get deeper, and really see the relationships grow. It has come a long way, which I’m really excited about. When I think of Veronica and Kevin, you got to see all the crazy sex stuff in Season One, but you got to really get to know their relationship and what the next step is, which is starting a family, and what that means for them. It’s been so fun to play, and it’s been so nice to really, really get into their lives.
Could Madonna be digging out that white lacy wedding gown from her "Like a Virgin" days anytime soon?
Maybe. The pop diva reportedly told Britain's Mirror that marriage "may lie in the future" for she and her boyfriend, director Guy Ritchie ("Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels").
To be sure, the couple made their first big public outing at the premiere of the M One's new film, "The Next Best Thing". And she recently set up home in Ritchie's native London with 3-year-old daughter Lourdes.
In many a recent interview, the 41-year-old singer-actress has happily declared she's off the market but has been cagey about discussing that "Next Step" -- the one she took with Sean Penn 14 years ago. (Their marriage ended in 1989 after less than four years.)
"It's a serious relationship," she says of Ritchie, a reported 31, in this week's People magazine. "It's excellent. I have an enormous amount of respect for him as a person, his work, his talent. He's very bright."
But does she discuss wedding bells? She only says, "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. If we get to it."
THE OUTSIDER: The film on his life may be up for seven Academy Awards, but "The Insider" himself -- one Jeffrey Wigand -- has yet to receive an invitation to the ceremony.
The controversial film's nods even include one for Russell Crowe, who portrays tobacco industry whistle-blower Wigand. Still, the real-life Wigand says no one from the production has said a word to him about Oscar night.
According to USA Today, Wigand called the Academy himself but was told the Oscar ceremony "wasn't the Super Bowl" and that tickets were in short supply.
Maybe Wigand needs to start hustling. Oscar buffs may recall that another controversial biopic figure, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, wrangled an invite to the 1997 ceremonies through nominee Woody Harrelson, who played him in the nominated film"The People vs. Larry Flynt."
OSCAR WATCH: Okay, so Jeffrey Wigand doesn't have a ticket, but "Ally McBeal" vixen and future "Charlie's Angel" Lucy Liu does. She'll make her Oscar debut as a presenter at the March 26 ceremony.
In other Oscar news, Kenny Ortega has been named choreographer for the ABC telecast. Now we know that producers have promised no dance productions, so what will Kenny do? "Several special surprise sequences," the Academy promises. As long as this doesn't equate to a Lord of the Dance production or a Rob Lowe-Snow White duet, we're good.
QUICK TAKES: Jerry Seinfeld and new bride Jessica Sklar reportedly have bought Billy Joel's 12-acre honeymoon cottage in New York's exclusive East Hampton for $40 million. It's a Spanish-style manor house on the ocean with a guest house, a pool and a barn ...
... Claudia Schiffer and Tim Jeffries have set May 20 as the date for their nuptials, according to the German magazine Bild. They will marry in a small church on the Spanish island of Majorca. The New York Post adds that the supermodel may insist the London gallery owner sign a prenup ...
... "Spin City" cast member Michael Boatman isn't so happy about the show's upcoming move to Los Angeles to accommodate new star Charlie Sheen. On Wednesday's edition of Howard Stern's radio show, Boatman complained that the move will be disruptive to cast members whose families set roots in New York to work on the sitcom. "It's kind of a big mess," he said.
JUST CAUSE: "Today" host Katie Couric has joined forces with Hollywood stalwart Lilly Tartikoff and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to form the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance. The organization, officially launched Wednesday in New York, hopes to increase awareness of colon cancer and raise research funds.
Couric's husband, cable news legal analyst Jay Monohan, died of colon cancer in 1998, while Tartikoff's husband, NBC president Brandon Tartikoff, died of Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1997. The late Charles Schulz had agreed to participate in the campaign before his colon cancer-related death, and his family plans to carry out his commitment.
WEEKLY RUMOR ROUNDUP: A photograph of Jennifer Lopez in her plunging sheer green Versace dress was downloaded 642,917 times the day after the ceremony on the official Grammy Web site, and 1 million times by the following week, says the Post. We're afraid of what this means for future award-show dress codes ...
... Did they or didn't they? Sarah Michelle Gellar was seen on the arm of "Mission to Mars" star Jerry O'Connell many times in 1998 and 1999, but the vampire slayer told TV Guide: "No, [we didn't date]. We went to high school together." But when Fashion Wire Daily approached O'Connell, he said: "Yeah, I went out with Sarah, I did ... I wanted to keep going out with her! I was just too much of an idiot to keep it going. But I'm trying ... I'm working on my attention-span issues, I'm working on my commitment issues, I'm working on my communication issues." Didya hear that, Sarah?