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William H. Macy's 'Shameless' New Role

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William H. Macy's 'Shameless' New Role

Television

William H. Macy's 'Shameless' New Role

William H. Macy's 'Shameless' New Role

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William H. Macy, as Frank Gallagher, stands at a bonfire with his family in Shameless. i

William H. Macy, as Frank Gallagher, stands at a bonfire with his family in Shameless. Showtime hide caption

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William H. Macy, as Frank Gallagher, stands at a bonfire with his family in Shameless.

William H. Macy, as Frank Gallagher, stands at a bonfire with his family in Shameless.

Showtime

Oscar-nominated actor William H. Macy is known for taking on complex roles — such as Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo — and in the new Showtime series Shameless, he inhabits yet another demanding character. He plays Frank Gallagher, a father of six who spends most of his evenings passed out drunk on the living room floor.

"It's rare to play a character that has really no redeeming values," Macy tells NPR's Neal Conan. "I've got my work cut out for me to make sure that the audience just doesn't throw up its hands in disgust and turn us off."

Gallagher's an addict and an alcoholic, Macy explains, which leads to a lot of on-camera time spent face-down on the floor. But there's nuance to his portrayal. "I'm toasted pretty much every scene," Macy says, but notes that he tries to modulate his performance. "I figure, it's 10 o'clock in the morning, it's a three-beer scene, as opposed to the evening when it's a fall-flat-on-your-face-drunk scene."

The show is based on a British program with the same name, and Macy says the original is "brilliant." The Showtime version's first season adheres pretty closely to its forebear's precedent, but he thinks the producers willl probably get away from that in the second season.

Shameless is billed as a show about a working class family, which Macy says is slightly misleading. "Frank doesn't work at all," he clarifies, "which is to say, he works very hard, but he only works at scamming the system. He hasn't had an honest day's work in his whole life."

And though that may not represent the typical working class family, he thinks it works in this country at this time. "I think there's a degree of anger in our country about the way things are going, and the Gallagher family is sort of cranky in much the same way."

But more than that, the Gallagher family has a "palpable love," Macy says. "Bottom line, they get each other's back, they stick together. Every single episode I find very moving."

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