Those Knicks Are Shameless! Emmy Rossum Can’t Go To Madison Square Garden Without Getting Asked Out On A Date

It’s fitting that Emmy Rossum was in New York the week her beloved Knicks had a major front-office makeover. Her favorite team recently announced their new president, a NBA legend you might know: Phil Jackson. In addition to promoting Shameless, the lifelong Knickerbocker fan made time to catch a game at Madison Square Garden, and chatted with us about her thoughts on the team’s future as well as her day job: Showtime’s Shameless, where she’s played the mature yet consistently self-sabotaging Fiona Gallagher, for four seasons.

As we near the end of the show’s much bleaker fourth season, Emmy revealed what it’s like to swear around a room full of children and whether or not her character will ever truly feel happy. Read on for the New York spots the actress can’t get enough of and who she’s rooting for in the Fiona/Mike/Robbie love triangle.

VH1: At the top of Season 4 it seemed like Fiona finally had gotten things together, then we had another series of bad decisions that led to self-destruction. When reading the script do you ever say, “Enough!”? Or do you like that it shows how self-betterment is a slow burn?

Well I don’t think it’s a slow burn for her. This is like a quick explosion. She seemed to have a leg up in the world and have a steady job and health insurance and this boyfriend — even though he was a little vanilla and boring — was super nice and caring. So I think she’s just not used to success, and I think that actually doing well is physically and viscerally uncomfortable for her because she’s always lived in a state chaos. I think that she sabotages so that she can go back to the environment that she had before, only she does it in such a way that she ends up much worse off than she was before.

Are you rooting for her?

Oh my god, of course! I’m her biggest fan. I feel like she’s my sister or a part of me. It’s a weird thing you experience as an actor with your character. Even if it’s an evil character — which Fiona isn’t — you’re always finding the empathy for them.

Do you have ideas for where you would like her to go in Season 5?

I want her to get in therapy. I think she needs to talk about some of her issues. I don’t think there is any upward movement without actually talking and figuring out why she’s made the mistakes that she has.

We are also seeing the love triangle that’s unfolded between Fiona, Mike and Robbie. Do you have someone you’re hoping Fiona will end up with?

I want her to be single. I’m desperate for her to be single for a second. We’ve never seen her single for any period of time and I think that that kind of relationship-hopping is not good.

What do you think she will be like on the single scene?

She doesn’t know what to do when she doesn’t have something to focus on to distract her. She’s always been kind of the mother figure, so I bet she would kind of go stir-crazy like she did when she was stuck in the house.

Frank’s health has been really deteriorating and it seems like he’ll definitely need a new kidney. Do you think Fiona is going to give him one of hers?

I hope not. At a certain point it’s like, “No, you’ve given enough.” And I also don’t think that would be a redeeming thing for her to necessarily do. I mean she’s gotta find a way to redeem [herself] that isn’t cutting her body open and giving a piece of it to somebody that’s never really cared about her until she was of medical use to him.

Would you be upset if Frank were to die on the show?

I think he is a necessary evil. Oh yeah, I wouldn’t like that.

It’s been difficult to watch Fiona and Lip in their falling out; there have been a lot of screaming matches. How do you prepare to shoot those scenes? Is it awkward at all after you just screamed at Jeremy Allen White to then go grab coffee together?

No, it’s such a release to get that kind of energy off you. I mean, you build it up during the rehearsal process and then you let it all out. It’s almost like a kettle that comes to a boil and when you let it out we can get a cup of tea or coffee. It’s enjoyable especially when you have an actor like Jeremy or Noel Fisher or Bill Macy, who are so adept and so present and so connected to their emotional life during the scene, that actually in a weird way the torture becomes fun.

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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.