Anne-Marie Duff discusses her return to Shameless for its final series
As the eleventh and final series of Shameless draws to a close on May 28, some familiar faces return to the fold to give it a proper swansong, including the brilliant acting talents of Anne-Marie Duff who played Fiona Gallagher in the first two series.
Below is a Q&A with the actress (most recently seen in Jimmy McGovern’s BBC One drama Accused) where she talks about what it was like to return to the show she left behind eight years ago.
What was it like coming back to Shameless?
The great surprise was that it felt as if everything had been kept in jelly nothing had changed!
I think that was partly to do with the fact that the final episode that I was involved in is all about family – and the Gallaghers.
To be brutally honest I hadn’t really watched Shameless because it belonged to other characters it wasn’t so much just about that one family anymore, so I thought will I even know anybody on the set?
But because David (Threlfall) was directing I felt completely like it was our little capsule again. Jody (Latham) was there and Elliott (Tittensor) back as my brothers so…it was amazing actually it felt lovely and I had a thoroughly nice time.
Do you still have a soft spot still for Fiona?
Fiona was one of the best characters I’ve ever played.
I drunkenly agreed, I think with one of the producers years and years and years ago when I was leaving that I would come back and do the last episode of Shameless…I said, I will come back to the last episode – never imagining that it would actually happen!
I don’t even know if anyone remembers that or if it was just a coincidence but then I got the call and I just said yes without even thinking, because I have so much to thank Shameless for.
For me personally it felt like good karma to come back and be there at the very end. Shameless was all a good time in my life and I wouldn’t have done a lot of the work I’ve done since Shameless – I wouldn’t have worked on The Virgin Queen if I hadn’t done Shameless, so I have a lot to be thankful for.
The final episode goes straight back to family…
That was the acorn wasn’t it, that it was all about this group of people.
I’d been talking to a lot of people about the show because I was going back to it and what I found extraordinary was that quite a few people had said to me what was great about Shameless, aside from all the storylines that they got very involved in, you know Steve and Fiona whatever, was that it was about poverty – that was very interesting. It was genuinely about people living on the breadline. I remember that was something that my mum had said ‘cos she had read the first episode. She said what I love about this is when people have nothing all they have is love and laughs. It feels nice that the closure of the programme takes it back to the beginning.
What was it like seeing the purpose built set for the first time?
It was extraordinary! Don’t get me wrong it was by no means luxurious but compared to what we had at the very beginning….!! It felt like a real established programme with the purpose built estate. I’d never worked in that environment before, and I did have a real sense of family up there, I felt like all the people that run the show all for 8 years since I left are very close, they are all very fond of each other and its very nice, there was a real sense of intimacy with everybody. That was really lovely.
It must have been really strange to walk back into the Gallagher house?
They had a new kitchen fitted, still looked grim and grubby but nothing else had changed and what was glorious was there was pictures all over the rooms, of all of us from the first series, there were still some of the same props magazines and things and that was just sort of bonkers.
And Dean Lennox Kelly (Kev) was there too and I was laughing to myself because we spent the whole time discussing family interior décor and things like that. It just made us laugh the people we’d become from the people we were all those years ago.
How did you feel Fiona had aged over the years, had her clothes sense? Clearly she is still with Steve..
And we have a child which was one of the reasons we left because Fiona was pregnant. So I slipped in a little line about a Grandson – we decided it would be a boy.
Did you think about what she would be doing now? Or what happened to them or where they lived?
Yes we had – Paul Abbott’s idea was that they ran away to Amsterdam – but then in the course of those years we’ve ended up in Cornwall so that was hysterical in itself.
So she’s happy and fulfilled then?
Very happy, very fulfilled, you still have the sense that she has a lot of unresolved issues to do with family – you know she has mother issues….and that story is told in the last episode
Do you have a favourite scene ever from Shameless or a key memory from Shameless?
Lots and lots of things from the first series, because we were all getting to know each other.
The scene where Steve (James McAvoy) got in trouble with the police and that was all amazing -that whole episode was just incredible. Anything that Maxine (Peake) and Dean (Lennox Kelly) did as Kev and Veronica, I just loved watching the two of them.
I really felt like I wanted everyone to be there – Chris Bisson all of them. I got in touch with Maxine when I was sitting having my lunch and I just said I wish you were here I wish so much you were here. ..because it just felt like they should be there all be there having their lunch.
Chris Bisson’s character actually died…so he couldn’t have come back. But a lot wanted to but were busy on other projects. Gerard Kearns was in a play at The Royal Exchange and Rebecca Ryan was in another play A Taste of Honey in Scotland.
Yes so exciting she was in that with a friend of mine. They are all proper actors and so successful.
Have you kept in touch with everyone over the years?
Not so much. I’ve been in touch with Dean and Maxine. The ‘kids’ not so much because they are coming into their milestones they’ve grown up now.
Are you happy that Shameless is finishing on a great note?
Yes that’s lovely and I thought the end scene is perfect because it really does top and tail and works.
I think that it was an incredibly influential programme – I remember the camera work was echoed on lots of other Television programmes; the way that they structured the humour in the programme was then emulated – so these things show that it was incredibly important.
Shameless has born some marvellous talent over the years..
Gees Louise….Look at Maxine, Look at Dean….Look at James (my God) that whole crowd of us. Gerard went on to do a Ken Loach movie – it’s extraordinary what happened to us all, that group of people, who all thought this was probably a Titanic of a programme at the beginning because it was so different, it’s been such an incredible opportunity for all of us.