The Untold Truth Of Shameless

If there's ever a moment you feel like your family is as crazy as it gets, put on an episode of Showtime's Shameless and I guarantee you'll feel a little better. Since Showtime introduced us to the quirky, fun, and well... shameless Gallaghers in 2011, fans and critics alike have obsessed over their wild antics. The dramedy has achieved tons of critical success, winning numerous prime time Emmy and SAG awards and earning nominations for Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards. Despite the show's popularity, there are some surprising things that go on behind the scenes. Read on for some secrets that only the biggest Shameless fans know. Beware: some spoilers ahead!

The show was adapted from a UK series

The British version aired in the UK from 2004 to 2013. Like the US version we all know and love, the British show followed the dysfunctional Gallagher family and their lives in Manchester, England. Fans of both shows will notice that the first episodes of each show are pretty identical, but eventually the story lines diverge. In an interview with Assignment X, the US show's executive producer John Wells explained that keeping the two shows completely aligned became "increasingly different as it goes on, partially because things changed so much in the British version." We can't say we're mad — Shameless (US) is perfect as it is.

Woody Harrelson was originally cast as Frank

We simply can't imagine anyone but the legendary William H. Macy playing our beloved Frank Gallagher. Macy's portrayal of the Gallagher patriarch is nothing short of phenomenal, and has earned him multiple awards. However, producers originally offered the role to Woody Harrelson. In an interview with ShortList, Macy described a slightly awkward encounter with Harrelson, who told Macy he had spoken to producers about playing Frank but turned down the role claiming he didn't think he could do it better than the British original. In true Frank Gallagher form, Macy allegedly responded, "I can."

Allison Janney was originally cast as Sheila

Joan Cusack's portrayal of the agoraphobic Sheila Jackson is flawless. However, according to Deadline Allison Janney actually played the role of Sheila in the show's pilot. Deadline reports that Janney turned down the role after learning the part would require more dedication than originally planned because she was also committed to another show. Despite being a main character in seasons one through five, Cusack is billed as a guest actor in the show's (hilarious) opening sequence and won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress (Comedy Series).

Emmy Rossum almost didn't come back for Season 8

Fiona is the backbone of the Gallagher family, and in the seventh season she finally got her chance to really step out on her own. It's safe to say a Fiona-less Shameless would devastate fans, and almost became reality after season seven when Rossum demanded pay equal to that of her costar William Macy. In late 2016, Variety reported that Rossum wanted to get paid more than Macy to make up for the years she didn't receive an equal salary. Fans can breathe a sigh of relief, because the networks met her demands. Rossum tweeted in December of 2016, "Playing Fiona Gallagher has been one of the great privileges of my life. I'm so happy to continue w my SHAMELESS family! Back to work in May!"

Emma Greenwell replaced Jane Levy as Mandy

Devoted fans may have noticed a slight difference in Mandy's appearance from season one to season two. Jane Levy was originally cast as Mandy, but left after getting a lead role on the ABC show Suburgatory in 2011. When Shameless returned for the second season, we saw Emma Greenwell as the badass Milkovich sister.

Twin brothers share the role of Liam

The youngest Gallagher is an anomaly. The only African-American Gallagher, he's actually played by twin brothers Brenden and Brandon Sims. According to an Instagram page run by their mom, the twins "love WWE, [and] living shamelessly on your TV screens on Sundays."

Justin Chatwin's character wasn't supposed to return after Season 3

The show's writers devastated fans of the loveable (yet sometimes infuriating) Jimmy/Steve at the end of season three with a huge cliffhanger that left Chatwin's character's fate largely unanswered. "That character was coming to an end," executive producer John Wells told TV Guide. Viewers assumed a drug lord killed Jimmy/Steve, and were shocked to see him return for a few episodes in season four. Fans of the show weren't the only ones left in the dark about Chatwin's return, Emmy Rossum revealed in a Reddit AMA. "I was really unhappy with the resolution of that story line," she revealed. "Little did I know, they actually FLEW Justin to Chicago, hired a different crew, kept him in a different hotel, and filmed — UNBEKNOWNST TO ANY OF US — a scene that would end season 4." The actors didn't find out about Chatwin's return until the episode aired.

The Shameless house isn't actually on the South Side of Chicago

Despite the Gallagher clan's South Side pride, the home where the crew films is actually located in an area 30 minutes northwest of the South Side. While most of the show is actually filmed on a set in Los Angeles, the cast visits Chicago for two weeks per season. Fans of the show can visit the Gallagher home (I've done it!), but remember that for 50 weeks of the year it's a real neighborhood with real people. "The little boy who lives in the Gallagher house — the real house — his name is DJ and he's 8 years old now, so I've known him since he was 1," Emma Kenney (Debbie Gallagher) told the Chicago Tribune. "And I know DJ. He's a really good kid, such a good kid."

Ethan Cutkosky asked to be written off

One thing Shameless writers do really well (besides, you know, everything) is make every character as integral to the show as they are to the Gallagher family unit. Cutkosky's character Carl has grown tremendously over the years. When we first met him, Carl was a young street kid with sociopathic tendencies. As of season seven, he's befriended a police officer and attends military school. The decision to send Carl off to military school came after Cutkosky asked to be written off as he started high school, according to the Chicago Tribune. "I still want to come home and be that regular kid," Cutkosky told the Tribune. Executive producer Mark Mylod promised to do his best to allow it, telling the Tribune, "He is a good, grounded Chicago kid who wants that whole high school experience, and hats off to him for that."

Veronica got pregnant because Shanola Hampton was expecting

Veronica's season three arc includes an infertility struggle, but in 2013 Hampton revealed to People that she was pregnant in real life. "We are beyond excited to expand our family and begin this new chapter," she told People. To accommodate Hampton's pregnancy, Veronica and Kevin get pregnant in the first episode of season four.

Elliot Fletcher (Trevor) attempted suicide twice

Elliot Fletcher, who plays Ian's transgender love interest, wrote an essay revealing how his struggle with coming out as transgender deeply affected his mental health. "For several years, I hated myself because I knew I was different," he wrote. "I tried to kill myself twice because I thought it would just be easier to die rather than live my life as who I really was." Luckily, he lived to share his story, and has gone on to become a trans advocate, musician, and actor.

Casting directors didn't want to audition Rossum

Few actresses can balance comedy with raw emotion like Emmy Rossum as Fiona Gallagher. It's hard to imagine anyone else in the pivotal Shameless role, but in an interview with AOL's Brian Balthazar, Rossum revealed that casting directors originally didn't even want to give her a chance to audition.

"I had to make my own audition tape and send it in and convince them to see me in person," she said, citing her previous role in 2004's Phantom of the Opera as her main obstacle. "I have that fashiony persona and that doesn't always translate to 'she's gritty, she's raw, she's unafraid to be real and go to ugly places,'" Rossum said.

Season 4 'terrified' Rossum

Fans of Shameless know the writers and directors come from a no-holds-barred place when creating the show. Considering the nudity, drugs, alcohol, and profanity, there are some moments when you think to yourself, 'did that really just happen?' Turns out, even the actors are sometimes pushed to their limits.

Remember the dark turn Season 4 took when (spoiler alert!) Fiona got arrested after little Liam got into her cocaine stash? Rossum said it was "the hardest thing" she's done thus far in her career. She told TV Line that filming the ensuing prison strip search was the most difficult scene she's done on the show. "I had a complete panic attack," she said. "It was really scary for me to do that scene. Those feelings that came out were really, surprisingly, real for me."

Noel Fisher (Mickey) was supposed to last only a few episodes

It's rare that a fictional onscreen romance is as heart-wrenching (and tumultuous) as that of Ian Gallagher and Mickey Milkovich. But it almost didn't happen!

Shameless showrunner John Wells told The Hollywood Reporter that when the series launched, Noel Fisher was only hired for a few episodes. Fisher's successful film career made it hard to keep Mickey as a full-time character, which made Mickey and Ian's relationship a total roller coaster.

Though Mickey left Ian for Mexico at the end of Season 7, Fisher said he wants fans to know that doesn't technically have to mean the end of "Gallavich." When The Hollywood Reporter asked him if we'd see Mickey again, Fisher replied, "I absolutely love playing this character and getting to work with the all the talented people on this show, so I would jump at the opportunity." *Fingers crossed.*

Depicting Ian's struggle with bipolar disorder was tough

Perhaps the most heartbreaking Shameless storyline is Ian's battle with bipolar disorder. Not only is it hard for viewers to watch, it's also hard for crew members to make sure they get it right. On depicting a bipolar character, Cameron Monaghan told Interview Magazine, "it's been tricky to find ways to play it without pushing it over the top, so it's not exploitative of mental illness."

Not only does Monaghan have to work to get the acting just right, but the writing team also has to be deeply aware of what life with a mental illness is truly like. "It is a delicate tightrope of storytelling," Shameless executive producer Nancy Pimental told Cultural Learnings. "I feel like we've done a pretty realistic job, and it was definitely not an intent to gloss over things."

Kevin's and Carl's legs were really broken

They say life imitates art, but sometimes it's the other way around. We've seen two main characters in the series wear leg casts: Kevin in Season 3, and Carl in Season 5. Neither cast was for show—both actors were injured in real life.

In 2013, Steve Howey (Kevin) tweeted, "This entire season I was recovering from snapping my Achilles tendon. That's why I'm in a cast." He told Men's Fitness that he got injured jumping into a basketball game without warming up first.

A couple seasons later, Ethan Cutkosky's character Carl also wore a cast, which Rossum revealed in a Reddit AMA happened while he was dancing at a party. "Or so that's what he told us," she wrote. "How do you break your leg dancing?"

There are tons of babies on set

These days, it seems like every character has a baby on Shameless. The Milkovich house is full of them at the beginning of the series. Kev and V have a few kids of their own. The Gallaghers have Liam, and eventually Debbie gives birth to one of her own. As if that weren't enough, Isadora Goreshter (Svetlana) told Huffington Post that there are even more babies on set than what's shown onscreen.

"Basically, for every baby there is a set of twins," she said. "And if they are newborns, I think there are two sets of twins because they can only be under the lights and in front of the camera for a very short amount of time."