We got the scoop on Season 5 from Emmy Rossum, who plays oldest daughter, Fiona, as she hosted the Moto X Film Experience.
This season, Rossum assures us, the fractured Gallagher family serves up their standard fare of so-bad-it's-good hilarity — along with some surprisingly tender moments, too.
"There's definitely a lot that's really funny, but Frank falls in love — real love — for the first time, too," Rossum told us, "so we'll see that happen, which will be really interesting. And one of our main characters gets married, as well, so it'll be an interesting season."
No stranger to controversy, Shameless will tackle another (of many, we're sure) hot-button topics this season when the Gallaghers take on gentrification.
Faced with an invasion of coffee shops and hipsters happening in their South Side Chicago neighborhood of Canaryville, the rowdy family tackles the problem like, well, Gallaghers — with "AK-47s to the Zen Beanery."
Adopting the gritty bravado required to play Fiona has been challenging, says Rossum, but rewarding, as well.
"I love the character. I love her duality... how strong she is and how vulnerable at the same time. She's very much like a rescue animal who is always in fight or flight mode," she said, noting that the duality of the role itself — keeping the characters grounded in reality in "heightened, surreal, ridiculous situations" — is fun in its uniqueness.
Still, going so far against the status quo is definitely outside of Rossum's personal comfort zone.
"I'm always a little nervous about things that are offensive, but again, that's the nature of the show. So, it's fun to get to do something that's so opposite my personal instinct," she said.
Coming into the new season, Rossum explains that Fiona is still struggling from the rough go she had last season. There's a war brewing beneath the surface between her true personality, "which is very intense and always the first person to throw a punch" against the quieter life she knows would be good for her.
Will adding a new love interest into the mix end up in a Molotov cocktail of emotions for Fiona?
We may soon find out, as this season sees Rossum's character paired with the ever-so-handsome Dermot Mulroney (of whose work Rossum gushes she is "a huge fan").
"His character is interesting," she said. "He's a recovering addict and he's a father. He's very different for Fiona. She's very interested in him at the onset and he's kind of interested in her, but knows how bad she would be for him... and he actually kind of rejects her very early on in the season."
And for Fiona, rejection is a first. She'll have to contend with that new development, along with the return of former series regular, Justin Chatwin, whose character, Jimmy — aka Steve — was presumed dead after Season 3.
Throughout all of this, of course, she'll still be navigating the choppy waters of being the oldest sister in a large, fractured family with an alcoholic father.
To get into the headspace to capture that unique dynamic, before filming, Rossum worked with a therapist who specializes in treating the children of alcoholics and addicts. It's a move she said gave her "a lot of intellectual insight into the character."
It also gave her insight into the distinctive bond shared by the Gallagher siblings.
"You know, with children of alcoholics, there's always one person who is the parent, one person who is the clown, one person who is the troublemaker, and Fiona really has been the parent for so long," Rossum said. This season, though, Fiona continues to shift from the role of the parent to the role of the troublemaker.
But outside of the role, Rossum admits she still toes that line with her talented young crop of costars. "I'm definitely a maternal/older sister figure to them," she said. "A lot of them are only children, as well, so we definitely have bonded in an intense way and I think that obviously comes across on the show."
And even though the protective actress cops to getting involved in her cast mates' lives — "I try to keep them on the straight and narrow as much as I can" — she says the entire cast is super professional and tight.
It's apparently a closeness that spills over after hours, too.
"We do have fun when we're out in Chicago. We all go out together and Joan Cusack hosts parties at her house and we play Running Charades. It really is the best," she shared, adding, "Bill Macy is really good. He might be a cheater, because he always wins."
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