William H. Macy on His 'Shameless' Return to TV

Filed under: Celeb News & Interviews

William H. Macy picture

William H. Macy, with his wife, Felicity Huffman, stars in Showtime's new series "Shameless." Credit: Jason Merritt, WireImage.com

With a string of unforgettable roles under his belt in classic movies ranging from "Fargo" to "Boogie Nights," William H. Macy is making a return to television.

The Oscar-nominated actor stars in "Shameless," a raunchy new comedy on Showtime. Macy, 60, is married to "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman and is father to Sofia, 10, and Georgia, 8.

ParentDish recently caught up with Macy to find out about the new show, playing an alcoholic and not wanting his girls to be child actors. An edited version of the interview follows:

ParentDish: So tell me about your show.
William H. Macy:
It's based on a British series of the same title. It's many, many things. It's wildly funny, rather sophisticated humor sometimes, and then, by turns, it's very dramatic and moving. It's about the Gallagher family. I'm Papa Gallagher. The wife left about three years ago and took the minivan, thank you very much, leaving me to tend after the kids, which I don't do at all, ever. That has fallen to my eldest daughter, Fiona, who's played by Emmy Rossum.

PD: You play an alcoholic.
Yes, but he's not strictly an alcoholic. He also likes marijuana and cocaine and Vicodin. He's very broadminded about his drug choices.

PD: Any personal experience to draw upon?
Yes, one time on a ship seven miles out on international waters I took some illegal drugs.

PD: Which ones?
All of them. I grew up in the wild and woolly days of the hippiedom. I graduated high school in 1968 -- that's what they tell me. It's a bit foggy. I've made a career out of representing the disenfranchised, the little guy who doesn't have a voice. You may not like us, but at any given moment there are lots of people all around the world who are getting toasted, drunk out of their minds or high as can be. When you cut us, do we not bleed? So I'm the spokesperson for loaded America.

PD: Why do you think you get cast so often as a loser?
Actually, I don't. I've scored in that role a couple of times. Truthfully, I've had a lovely career. I've gotten to play some tough guys and smart guys. I think I have a talent for taking a seemingly futile journey and making it compelling. It's perhaps a function of what I look like and the way I grew up. I grew up Lutheran and we Lutherans know a bit about guilt and being self conscious.

PD: Have your daughters expressed any interest in acting?
Off and on. They're dramatic, I can tell you that. I've got no problem if they want to go into this business. I love the business certainly. I don't want them to be child actors. If they want to do some plays in school and later on after college, if they want to pursue it, I'll throw whatever weight I have left behind them.

PD: So, if your 10-year-old comes to you now and says she wants to get an agent ...
I don't think so. It's very difficult. We have kids on our show and my hats off to their parents. But the truth of the matter is the parents have to be there all the time. I would certainly not leave my daughter on a set; I'd want to be there every second.

PD: You lived with Felicity for 15 years before you got married. Did she tell you you'd better put a ring on it?
Actually, it was me. We were a couple for a while and split up for a while and when we got back together I was the one who wanted to get married. It took all the talent I possess to persuade her. I said, "I'm going to start making plans, you better get a dress." The bride demon attacked my wife.

PD: What are you reading right now?
My wife and I read to each other. Right now we're reading "The Last Lion." It's about Churchill.

PD: Do you do voices when you read?
Not that much. But we do a lot of voices when we read to the kids. We're a big reading family. I scare the shit out of the kids, so I'm told sometimes not to read. The kids don't watch TV.

PD: Really?
They'll watch the news with me and "America's Funniest Home Videos." But we keep them away from TV because smart people said it's a good thing to do with kids.

PD: How are you enjoying doing a series?
I'm adoring it. My wife is on a series.

PD: Oh really, which one?
WM: "Desperate Housewives."

PD: Ha, ha. Yeah, I know!
Oh, I'm sorry, one never knows.

PD: Hello, that show is huge. It's big all over the world.
In Europe the reaction is bigger than here. They fall about when we travel abroad. Here, she doesn't get recognized much. I get recognized more than she does.

PD: So free pasta and cappuccinos in Italy?
Well, it's pretty crazy. They went nuts in Germany and France, too.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.