William H. Macy on "Shameless" character, working with wife Felicity Huffman

William H. Macy plays an alcoholic, drug-abusing, single father in the series "Shameless." His role as Frank Gallagher proves blood may be thicker than water, but it's no match for the bottle.

He told the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts Wednesday that his character has been “drinking and drugging heavily” and this is the season where Gallagher “pays the piper."

“I spend basically the whole season in bed with my liver failing, but I just signed a new contract, so I get the feeling I’m going to get a new liver before it’s over,” he said.

While Gallagher can be described as despicable, Macy explained to the co-hosts he actually prefers to think of him in a positive light.

“You can say terrible things about him, but I like to say he’s got a great sense of humor. He’s hard-working – even though they’re all scams. I think he’s self-knowing,” said Macy. “I think you keep him likable by having him strive. It’s very seductive to see somebody who’s working hard toward some goal.”

Macy said that, while the show is “shocking,” he credits most of the show’s success to its writing.

“Underneath it all, I think the writers really strive to tell the truth about something. It is a part of society that we don’t see very much.  I mean, these people are really underdogs. They literally worry about food on the table,” he said, “and ultimately it’s about the family, and you can do a lot to the Gallaghers, but you try to split up that family and you’re in trouble.”

Macy’s career started in the theater, and he founded the St. Nicholas Theater Company in Chicago with playwright David Mamet, among others. The actor told the co-hosts that he still loves doing theater but that it is a “young man’s game” and joked about whether he would return.

“It’s a lot of work, you don’t get paid very much, and no one sees it - let me think,” he said. “I do love the theater, and I think probably that’s where I belong.”

Macy told the co-hosts that he thinks he is “better on stage than anywhere else.”

The actor also discussed what it was like to direct his first film, "Rudderless," which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. His wife of 15 years, Felicity Huffman, was among the actors, and Macy said she's “stunning” in the film.

“Billy Crudup stars, and I was smart enough to roll the camera and sit down and watch those two. It was like two thoroughbreds going at it,” he said.

For some couples, it might be stressful to work on the same project with a spouse, but Macy told the co-hosts that it was not a problem to work with Huffman in the film.

“My wife is a handful. She’s a hard-working woman, and she asks lots of questions," he said. "... The thing is, her questions are really smart, and often as a result of her question you think, ‘Man, I didn’t think of that.’”

"Shameless" returns for its fourth season Sunday on Showtime, which is a division of CBS.

  • Shoshana Davis

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