William H. Macy: Playing Drunk ‘Ain’t Acting’


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William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher in ‘Shameless’.         (Photo: Showtime)

William H. Macy has no problem channeling his inner wino.”It is more like a parlor trick,” the SHAMELESS star admits.  “It ain’t acting.”

“As a matter of fact, one of the dangers in playing Frank Gallagher is that I walk away congratulating myself on being a great drunk — but I forgot to do the scene.”

I caught up with Macy in Los Angeles last week to learn more.

Q:  Did playing this character change your own drinking habits?
What a great question!  I haven’t been drinking recently.  So I guess no.

Q:  Is it easier to act drunk, than to be drunk and try to act sober?
Oh, God, yes!  One time I went out with Josh Logan (“The Fervent Years”).  He was in Chicago and was going to come see this theater I had started.  He took us all out to dinner.  He drinks like a fish.  He got me (completely hammered).  I only had two drinks, but they came in fishbowls.  And I had the lead in the play he was about to see.  And I stood on stage more miserable than I have ever been in my life.  I was drunk as a skunk.  I wanted to say “I will buy all of your tickets.  Let’s just go home.”

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Q:  As fun as it is to play Frank as a boozer, do you root for him to get sober?
Yeah.  I am his biggest supporter.  I love the guy.  I think he is smart.  I think he tells the truth when nobody else has he guts to.  He is very hard working.  He is an entrepreneur.    And he is living his life absolutely his way.  I am hoping we are going to do this show for many, many years.  So I think there is room for many permutations of what Frank does.  But yeah.  I would love to see a couple of episodes where Frank is sober.  But I think it is in the DNA of the show that Frank will always be loaded.

Q:  Frank has already had such an incredible journey.  What’s next?
There is a lot of great comedy in this season.  I think at the core, the thing that makes the Gallagher family so appealing is that it is a family.  And blood is thicker than anything.  You can burn down the house.  You can steal the car.  You can take a job away.  But if you try to split up the family, you will see ferocity like you have never seen before.  And that is exactly what happens.  I finally have to pay the piper for years of self abuse.

Q:  Is it nice not to have to walk around with long hair anymore?
I sort of dig it.  It is nice to change your appearance once in a while.  This was drastic.  But yeah, I am trying to look dangerous these days.

Q:  BTW, do you ever run into the other Bill Macy — Maude’s husband?
Yes.  I met Bill Macy.  Lovely actor.  Rest in peace.  He was great on “Maude.”

Q:  He is still alive!
I didn’t think so.  I thought Bill passed away. [laughs]  If you are still alive, Bill, please forgive me.  I can’t wait to work together.

“Shameless” airs Sunday nights on Showtime.


Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly