‘Shameless’ Post-Mortem: Shanola Hampton on Family, Chicago & That Finale

Shanola VeronicaBe 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.