Shameless has covered a lot of heavy subjects with a lot of young actors. How does it work off-camera? Is there a swear jar on set?
There was when they were nine but now we’ve caught them swearing. The adults want to have a swear jar because it upsets us when they swear. It’s difficult as an actor to express something in a role that you haven’t experienced in your real life — especially for those young actors who are 13, 14 and who haven’t experienced the things that they are being asked to show in the series. I think it takes a lot and I think we try to be very sympathetic and understanding. If something makes them uncomfortable or if they don’t understand something we have to be present and be there for them because we are really in a certain sense like a family.
I just read an interview with Emma Kenney (who plays Debbie Gallagher) where she mentioned having had a crush on Jeremy at the beginning of the series. She said to this day she still blushes when she’s around him.
They share a fondness — especially because Emma and Ethan [Cutkosky], Cameron [Monaghan] and I were all only children, so there’s a certain familiar familial aspect to our closeness. But I had no idea about that, I’m not surprised though because she’s always following him around. It’s adorable.
Since you’re in your hometown of New York, what are five of your favorite spots in the city?
I like to go to Madison Square Garden and see the Knicks games, I like to eat at EJ’s Luncheonette on 73rd and 3rd, I like the donuts at Babycakes, downtown, I like the gelato at Sant Ambroeus and I like to go to any museum exhibit that’s open.
When you’re shooting in Chicago are you able to find satisfying counterparts?
A little bit. We go out and we eat at restaurants and we go to local bars and stuff like that, but mostly we just hang out together in the hotel and order tons of food after we’ve shot for 13 hours. When we work in L.A. we go straight home to our families, so when we’re in Chicago we’re all kind of stranded and forced to be together. It’s nice.
As a big Knicks fan, how do you feel about Phil Jackson becoming the new president of the team?
I’m totally into it. I think it will give us a lot of needed energy. We need something.
Have you gotten to schmooze with any Knicks players or fellow celebrities while at the Garden?
Yes, in fact one of them asked me out on a date last time I was at the game, but I had to decline because I’m seeing someone. But it was very flattering.
Shameless airs Sundays at 9 pm on Showtime.