After spending eight years playing family matriarch Fiona Gallagher on the hit Showtime series Shameless, Emmy Rossum decided in 2018 to fly the coop at the end of season 9.
For Rossum, the decision had nothing to do with bad blood or pay disputes. The real reason Emmy Rossum left Shameless after season 9? She simply felt it was time for her to spread her creative wings.
Rossum published a long post on her Facebook page in August 2018, explaining that the stability of her shameless gig gave her the courage to move beyond that.
“This kind of stability, this family, has nurtured me and made me feel safe enough to stretch and grow creatively,” she wrote. “The way [ executive producer and showrunner ] John Wells has shepherded me as an actress, and more recently, how he encouraged me as a director and writer with all my heart has been an honor and a privilege.”
Before landing Fiona Gallagher’s role, Rossum defined her career as a “transient” adventure. One In which roles had come and gone, and in which she had been able to move on to new creative endeavors on a regular basis.
Rossum never expected to get the family Shameless gave to her: “See, in real life, unlike Fiona, I’m an only child. I never had a big family.
Being ensconced in that messy Gallagher family love is something I’d always dreamed of. But even off set, it feels real. We’ve watched the kids grow up into the strong, talented, independent human beings that they are.”
She went on to call her experience “a gift,” and said that she had the best time of her life to play Fiona. “There are few characters — women or otherwise — as layered and vibrant,” Rossum said. “She’s resourceful. She’s faithful. She’s courageous. I realized the second time I read the pilot script, this was distinct, this was unique.”
It was an incredible overall experience for the actress, and she felt that the show had finally reached a point of near-perfection. (after 10,000 hours of work). But for her, it was time to try something new.
Still, Rossum made it clear that she was confident Shameless had many, many years to go. Even in her absence: “I know you will continue on without me, for now. There is much more Gallagher story to be told.” The actress even left the door open for a possible return, writing, “Try not to think of me as gone, just think of me as moving down the block.”
Shameless star, William H. Macy (who plays Fiona Frank Gallag’s degenerate father) believes that Rossum’s chances of returning to the family are pretty good. “I think Emmy will come back and make a guest appearance before this thing sets sail,” he told Variety in March 2019. “She better, otherwise I’m gonna grab her by the ear and bring her back.”
The departure of Rossum from the series may feel like a gigantic hole that never gets filled. But it isn’t that uncommon for actors to leave the TV shows that made them household names. Grey’s Anatomy has killed off dozens of people over the years. And it’ll enter into its 16th season in September 2019. Proof that shows can and do live on without their biggest stars.
The Serial showrunner John Wells came from ER, another series known for soldiering on after its stars have left. He told Variety that losing Rossum wasn’t out of the norm: “George Clooney left ER in year five, and we managed to do 10 more years. It’s what people do. They get on with their lives. We hope she’ll come back in at some point and play with everybody again, but she’s got other options.”
On Sunday, March 10, 2019, Rossum’s final episode of “Schameless” aired. While it doesn’t look like we’ll see her play Fiona anytime soon. The character’s departure was certainly not as final as something like a death, so at some point in the future she’ll be able to make a reappearance. At least for Wells, the whole thing gave him the chance to make a bigger story.
One that focuses on how the other characters respond to the Fiona scenario. And who knows where the shameless may be going in the future? There are many avenues to go down when it comes to the Gallagher family.
Shameless season on the 3rd of November, 10 airs.