William H. Macy on ‘Shameless’, Nude Scenes and Winning a SAG Award

William H Macy Shameless

“Of all the awards, that one means the most to me because those are my peeps” – William H. Macy on winning a SAG Award


Though William H. Macy has been working as an actor since the early 1970s, he seemed to finally get on the public’s radar with his leading role in the Coen brothers’ classic 1996 film Fargo. Since then Macy has appeared in dozens of films and television series, though he’s best known these days for starring in the Showtime series Shameless. This year, Macy won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series. Macy spoke to Vulture about why the SAG Award means so much to him as well as his memories of doing his first nude scene and working with longtime collaborator David Mamet.

Macy confesses that winning the SAG Award for Best Actor was very meaningful for him because of how passionate he is about Shameless. He says, “Of all the awards, that one means the most to me because those are my peeps. I feel like we crossed some kind of a threshold. Shameless is a rough show, and it’s not for everyone, but it’s also beautiful. I’m hoping winning this SAG means some of my co-stars will start to get recognition, like Emmy Rossum. She’s been spectacular for five seasons, and it’s about time somebody gives her something made of metal.”

Although Shameless features Macy’s character doing all kinds of dirty deeds, Macy first appeared nude on camera in 2003’s The Cooler. Macy admits that he wasn’t thrilled about doing the scene until his wife, actress Felicity Huffman, told him to own it. He reveals, “I got lucky because it was with Maria Bello, who is so cool and uninhibited and smart, and such a lovely actor. I felt safe — is that the word? I felt in good hands. The double entendres just keep coming! Also, my wife, Felicity [Huffman], was so smart about it. I was pissing and moaning about having to do that scene. Flicka said, ‘Hold on, pal. You should either embrace it or tell the director you don’t want to do it, because you don’t want to go into it planning to fail.’ Boy, was she right.”

Macy also spoke about his frequent collaborations with David Mamet (Macy has known Mamet since college and has appeared in a number of Mamet’s plays) and how it compares to the writing of Aaron Sorkin, whom Macy worked with on the short-lived TV series Sports Night. Macy says, “David writes a certain kind of play. I’m hyperaware of it because Felicity is doing The Anarchist with David’s wife Rebecca Pidgeon at one of those 99-seat theaters in L.A., and that dialogue is as difficult as any I’ve ever seen. I did Oleanna, and that was no walk in the park, either. Aaron doesn’t write that kind of stuff, so the hardest Dave is harder than anybody else.

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