Shameless Returns For Season 3 On January 13th On Showtime...
By: Iris Berry
On January 13th, 2013 the hit Showtime Series Shameless returns for
a third season... We are re-running Iris Berry's great interview with
Zach McGowan who portrays Jody Silverman on Shamless.. Enjoy
Hi, Zack, thank you so much for joining me today!
OK, the fact that youíre on one of the greatest Television shows, I
have many questions for you!
Cool. I have a tendency to answer eight questions with one answer sometimes.
Awesome! So letís just dig right inÖ how did you get the part on Shameless?
My agent submitted me for 4 episodes, 2 co-stars and 2 guest stars guaranteed.
Four episodes only?
Yeah that was all that was guaranteed, then there was a couple other
ones that they considered me for, another 2 of them or something like
that. But the audition was just a 4 episode audition.
Were you excited?
I was excited. You know it was one of the first things that Iíd gotten
to audition for that was a multiple episode character. Most of the
time I auditioned for a bad guy on CSI who would then you know, go to
jail at the end of the show and youíre done. Youíre in jail. Your
character is now in jail. Where as with Jody in Shameless, I knew it
was a perfect part for me. They were looking for a motorcycle guy with
long hair and Iíd just grown my hair long. I used to have a shaved
A shaved head, theatrical or political?
I used to play soldiers and cops. You know, very different characters
because I had a shaved head.
Were you a fan of the show Shameless?
I wasnít a fan of the show yet. Iíd just watched the pilot before the
other shows. I actually never even heard of the show. Iíd heard of it,
like I knew what it was but I didnít, I wasnít really present during
that time period, I was having a daughter during Season 1. While
Shameless was airing I was basically in the middle of becoming a new
Was the delivery with your daughter like the delivery room scene in Shameless?
You know what was so funny, not what was happening exterior wise, but
when I was doing that scene I had just delivered my baby, it was
unbelievable what the special effects they were able to do. I was like
you could probably convince someone they had a baby, it was crazy. I
mean take the cameras away and this could be a birth.
Well and your line in thereÖ when you say, ďwell Karen, you are
already pretty stretched out down there.Ē
They really write such gems for me.
But youíre such a nice guy, I mean youíre really a good man in the
show and even as you deliver that line, itís not an insult. Youíre
just being you.
Laura Wiggins, who plays Karen is awesome. Sheís from Georgia and
sheís a really good girl and totally not crazy. Sheís not crazy at
all. Not at all like the girl she plays on the show.
When youíre say to her ďYour fatherís deadĒ and sheís replies, ďthat
doesnít turn me on anymore.Ē
Right? Theyíre such classic lines.
Who writes that stuff?
Nancy M. Pimental, Mike OíMalley, Etan Frankel, Alex Borstein and John Wells.
What about William H. Macy?
Yeah he actually writes at least one episode a season with his writing
partner and itís great to be there, the environment is so creative
that a lot of things get people playing around improvising. There are
a lot of fun moments that are just found. You know Joan brings so much
Joan Cusack, the two of you together are brilliant.
Iím such a huge fan of Joan Cusack. I knew early on that Jody couldnít
stay with Karen. They had cast Jody to be exactly what Karen wanted at
the time, which was completely opposite of what she needed at the
time. And what she could deal with at the time kind of thing, and then
they cast it that way. But knew that Jodyís days were numbered with
Karen. And then when I read that I got kicked out in the tent. I was
like literally Iím done, if Iím in this tent and if I donít find a way
back in that house, I am off the show.
And what about how you and Sheila had the signals from the window?
Such great humor, itís brilliant. Brilliant! That whole tent thing,
and how your character really embraced it.
The writers on this show come up with these brilliant scenarios. I
mean these situations that lend themselves to such amazing humor and
drama at the same time because theyíre real. I mean you actually have
a guy living in a tent under the train. Itís so funny you know?
And youíre so devoted and youíre so optimistic and your character
leaves a lot open for so much opportunity for things to happen.
I think Iím in a very lucky position. I donít know if this is true but
I think Iím the first character thatís not in the original series.
I think so.
I believe. Because I think all the characters from season one are all
original characters from the English version.
You know I tried watching the English version, I canít.
I havenít watched it but Iíve heardÖI mean my problem with most
English television is that I canít understand what is being said.
No. I know, I couldnít understand a word.
Cause itís a heavy accent its from a blue collar family.
But people say itís really funny.
Oh it is. Iíve heard itís equally brilliant. The idea, the essence of
what the show is about is the same thing Iíve heard, itís just the
execution thatís a bit different, thatís all. You have to figure they
have smart writers and brilliant creative minds just like here. In
fact Mark Mylod, who is the director and one of the producers on the
show, the director who directed the episode I did where I was nude in
front of him, and actually a lot of the episodes, he directs most of
the episodes actually. Heís English.
So they stick pretty close to the English version?
I guess,. From what Iíve heard on the show, is that the pilot, Episode
1, Season 1, was pretty much word for word except for the
colloquialisms, obviously British words in Chicago terms. Then from
there it stays in Season 1, in broad strokes the similar things happen
then Shameless in England and then season 2 starts getting pretty far
away from it and is not really following it at all. Kinda off track.
On their own.
Yeah. Then theyíre on their own track, I mean I didnít even exist, so
you know that whole part of the story line is certainly changed..
And your character is such a great addition.
I feel so happy to be an addition to the show.
Youíre a great addition to the show because the whole thing with you
and Sheelís, I mean, come onÖon the motorcycle with the baby?
Right? You know what was so great about that too is that the day we
were shooting that we had a stunt double for Joan and no one knew if
Joan was going to get on the back of a motorcycle. And sheís usually
down for that stuff, but you never know and itís a tough shot and
Shameless is a pretty big show and we did not have control of that
street where we pulled out.
It was so comical. You both with little things flapping on your winter
hats, driving off on a Harley, stealing the baby from the Hospital.
And sheís agoraphobic and sheís on the back of the motorcycle with a
baby. And itís li funny. People always ask me to justify, I always
think itís so justified. I mean her daughterís having a baby and her
motherís instinct overtook her personal fears at the moment and then
when she got home they came back because she was like ďwait a second,
that was crazy. Iím never doing that again.Ē
Yeah itís like when someone lifts a truck off of their child.
What was it like working with Louise Fletcher?
It was learning experience. And working with most of the cast itís
been like going back to acting school you know what I mean? Everyone
is so talented that I think you can learn from everyone on the show.
Louise, specifically, itís not every day that youíre doing a scene
with an Oscar winner.
Such a prolific character like that and somebody who I hadnít seen her
work in a long time and she just blew me away on set. She was at the
reading, and when she walked in we were all like, ďoh my God!Ē And her
character Grammy is so raw, she just nailed it.
: She added to the show, the show is already so brilliant obviously,
but when she was on screen, she owned it.
I was saying that. Sadly, and obviously sheís dead so you canít do a
spin-off show with her.
I know! Twin sister? Weíre all hoping.
Itís like do spin-off show, Grammy goes to heaven and takes the place over.
Haha, and makes a methlab.
I just love that character. She really is just so fantastic. She was
so great on set. Because I wasnít around when she won the Oscar I was
young, not even born yet. On set, I was just doing a scene with her
and I came out and someone had their iPad and they said, hey, ďcheck
this out,Ē they were playing her Oscar acceptance speech which if you
havenít watched it, you have to watch it. Unbelievable. Sheís this
gorgeous young woman in this beautiful gown and I didnít know this,
but her parents were deaf so she uses sign language to speak to them
and thank them. I talked to her about it and it turned out that by her
doing that for her parents, was instrumental in closed captioning
becoming part of television. She had a podium and made the statement,
ďpeople who are deaf canít watch this by the way, they donít know
whatís going on.Ē Not by saying it, just by using sign language for
her parents and others who are hearing impaired. Itís really cool. It
was cool to see. Sheís a wonderful woman.
She changed, actually changed, the face of television for the handicapped.
Yeah I mean she put a spotlight on it. I think she said it was within
a year of that they got closed captioning on television which is
obviously so important because if you canít hear you have no idea what
Exactly, thatís incredible. I mean Iíve often accidentally turned it
on and Iím like ďhow do I turn this offĒ
You normally think of it that way but in reality itís very much the
opposite. I mean no matter if you canít hear youíll know whatís
How do you like working with Director John Wells?
Yes, John Wells heís incredible to work with. A lot of shows or films
for that matter that are heavily dramatic, will beat you over the head
with the heavy drama all day long to the point where youíre like, ďI
canít even take it.Ē What I love about working with John Wells, and
everyone else on Shameless, itís this heavy drama to it, but it really
it comes after weíve made you laugh for a long time. You know, first
you make Ďem laugh, then you make them cry and that can really change
things, it works out really well. Everyone has the darkness and the
I often wish the way they celebrate the Gallagher family and their
loyalty to each other, I wish it was more like that in real life.
Itís unbelievable. They really hold together those Gallagher's.
Through a lot of crap.
Thatís whatís attractive about that show is that they really band
together. Let me ask you. Let me ask you, you used to do Off Broadway.
How was that for you?
I loved it. I love theater to this day. I will always love theater. I
hope to do another play some day.
Why do you love it so much? Because the audience is right there?
I think plays are inherently an actorís medium. Like, Shameless
happens to be a very actor friendly show but thereís a lot of shows
that actors get stuck. I have friends who play a lab tech on a crime
investigation show and every episode they come in and say, ďthe blood
spatter analysis review blah blah blah,Ē and then itís the end. And so
while itís fantastic they have a job they can get a little crazed as
an actor. For me, Shameless is not like that at all.
What about that scene with the dying crack addict?
Yeah. They were like, ďdo you speak sign language by any chance?Ē And
I say no and they say, ďWe have this really funny idea. Do you think
you could learn?Ē and I said, ďSure, how long do I have?Ē And they
said, ďmaybe like 36 hours?Ē
It was so great when you were signing to the dying crack addict and
then in mid signing you stop and say, ďdonít talk to her like that,
sheís a lady.Ē Was that your idea?
No that scene left very little room for improv. I had to learn, it was
hard actually to learn sign language and then the lines. Itís actually
been a really fun time. Theyíve had me do all kinds of things I never
thought I would do. They just throw those songs at me totally out of
my register. Cyndi Lauper. So out of my register.
Oh yeah! What about the song that you sing when youíre having sex?
I couldnít have a deeper voice and Seal could not have a higher voice.
Thatís genius. I mean itís so genius.
Oh itís great. Those episodes were some of the most fun Iíve had.
Especially David Nutter that directed that, heís really an amazing
director. He directs every television show. His credits are
unbelievable. He was so fun to work with. Itís amazing when you work
with people whoíve had such success and are everywhere, but yet itís
just like they love it so much that theyíre like a kid in a candy shop
and heís having so much fun on set. Working with Joan and everyone on
the whole show, is like that and itís refreshing because Iíve been on
sets where itís certainly not like that. Where people are like ďI
canít believe this. Can you believe what theyíre doing?Ē and
complaining about everything whereas Shameless people are cool.
Thatís incredible and I think it transcends on to the show.
Everyone on the show is really cool. Bill had us all up to his house
to watch the first episode. The end of the season, you know, we all
got together and it was really fun. Especially because we go to
Chicago for the exterior. We shoot indoors here in LA, but we shoot
the outside stuff in Chicago and we all stay in a hotel and those
Oh my God. Are you all on the same floor?
Yeah its nuts.
That must be pretty loud.
It gets pretty crazy.
You know that Shameless Christmas song?
Why were you not there?
When they were shooting that, I was still weekly being hired as a
guest star because I was only supposed to do 4 episodes and every week
they would call me up and be like ďare you available to come in and do
the next one?Ē And Iíd be like, ďof course.Ē Thank God! You know what
I mean. The whole time. You know I always tell people Jody was out in
tent. I really was in the tent. I didnít know if I was coming back
Thatís really funny. You were in the doghouse. and got back in. literally
I was in the doghouse. The whole season.
And you got back in. Literally.
I worked myself back in.
Yeah it was really fun. It was a fun experience in fact I think in
some ways I had it harder that way getting on the show, now Iím a
series regular and Iím on the show now like everyone else. But also
the other people did it the other way they had to go through the
network testing and all those processes, which can also be very nerve
wracking. So either way when you get on a TV show and youíre not just
offered a television show, which only happens to a select few,
hopefully one day Iíll be one of those.
Like William H. Macy.
Yeah heís the reason the show got happened. They need someone like him
to get the money behind it.
In that Christmas song he seems very fatherly in that song which he
obviously isnít a great father figure on the show.
On the show heís kind of like the father of everyone. Heís very nice,
always giving everyone kind fatherly advice but heís a sage actor. I
mean look at him. Heís had such a prolific career. He struggled for
years in the early part of his career. He didnít really have greater
successes until later on.
Fargo is the first time I remember seeing him.
He was in his forties already at that point. Heís got a lot to teach.
I think he actually used to teach masters classes in theater at NYU.
So he has a very sharp brain.
Obviously heís got a career that has the lineage thatíll go on
forever. He probably never expected this.
Heís played every part you can imagine.
Yeah heís played some weird parts too.
Heís played parts that would normally be very forgettable on a movie.
He came through like that. He was a character actor playing smaller
parts. Heís really done so well and heís awesome to work with.
And itís amazing because he has played these odd characters and
thereís something very charismatic and charming about him as Frank.
And I never thought I would say that about William H. Macy but I donít
know heís not a sort of good looking person like your character is.
Like the minute you saw your character, youíre like ďWhoa. This guy is
: Youíre welcome. But with Macy, he just becomes more and more attractive.
Which is actually really scary how good he is at playing Frank. Heís amazing.
And heís so fast on his feet. Like the minute he sees that you and
Sheila are together. he says ďIím so depressed because of this, I need
something, gimme something.Ē And itís really for Monica, his wife.
Heís character is really quick on his feet with the hustle.
Heís so good at it. I think that heís so humble. Heís really a humble
guy as a person that heís willing to do everything that you need to do
as an actor to play Frank and a lot of actors wouldnít be necessarily
willing to go there and to do that.
Were you there in the scene when theyíre in the living room having a
party and making a toast to Grammy who just passed away, Frankís
mother, and their celebrating her life, and he sits down against the
wall and slides down to the floor and starts to cry?
I was shooting that day but I wasnít there in the room at the time.
He comes off as a sociopath but he does care. He cares about Moni???
He really cared about his mom.
He does have a heart but heís also an alcoholic and drug addict.
Yeah, itís amazing how well he plays that part.
Itís like he would make sure you were all right, and then steal your money.
What were you doing prior to the show?
Prior to the show I was pretty much focusing all on voice-over work.
Iíd made my living doing voice-over work for 7 years. .
Congratulations. You have a great voice.
We agree with Iris. Zach has a great voice and we are looking forward
to season three of Shameless...