With Season 6 of “Shameless” just launched, the wild Showtime show’s Steve Howey predicts that “fans are going to love it or hate it — which I think is great. There’s something about art — you either love it or hate it. When something is mediocre, People say, ‘Yeah, that’s fine,’” he says with a shrug.
Things are definitely not middle of the road when it comes to the storyline heating up between Steve’s bartender character, Kev, Kev’s wife Veronica (Shanola Hampton), and their Russian prostitute neighbor, Svetlana (Isadora Goresher). (Brace yourselves for the Jan. 24 episode.) “We’ve been having a lot of fun with it. Isadora is a great actress,” notes Howey.
As for himself, “I really like this season. I think it’s some of my best work. The stuff I have to play in the Alibi Room I really enjoy. We have this threesome going with my wife and Svetlana — she moves in and then we have to trick the immigration services guy. We all start dating each other and you think that’s going to be great, but…” complications ensue.
There were complaints over last season’s “Shameless,” that the show, about an impoverished and criminally inclined South Side Chicago family led by William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum, had gotten darker and less funny, and lost its heart.
Howey is quick to say “I think the writers this year have done a really good job of getting back to the core, the roots of what makes ‘Shameless’ what it was. It was less character driven and more story driven. The humor is a lot more this year.”
Still, “We have huge fan bases for different characters, and fans of specific characters aren’t going to like to see what happens — like Mickey (Noel Fisher), who is only in the first episode.”
As for the future of “Shameless”?
“I think we have one more year for sure,” Howey says. “Beyond that we get into other actors’ contracts and contract negotiations, I don’t know what Warner Brothers [which produces the show] and Showtime want to do. I have a feeling there are some actors who want it to go longer and others who just want to be done, but I would love for it to go on. It is so much fun you have no idea.
“Being an actor now, doing television for 14 years, this is like lightning in a bottle. The writing is so good, it’s really next level. And these are amazing actors to work with. There are times we annoy the @#!$ out of each other just like any family does, but with the dynamics put into place by John Wells, no one is in direct competition with each other. We’re just working toward a common goal and it’s really sweet.”
Right now, Steve and wife Sarah Shahi are focused on enjoying time together as a family unit with their six-year-old son and 10 month old twins. For six months last year, while he was busy shooting “Shameless” in Los Angeles and Chicago, his wife was in New York filming “Person of Interest,” he reports.
“She had the babies with her and I had our oldest son with me. So now that we’re all in the same city, we’re just kind of laying low. We were not happy to be separated that long. It was really sad.”
The one-time “Reba” costar was also up in San Francisco to make the forthcoming indie comedy “Unleashed” in which Kate Micucci plays an app designer whose pet dog and cat are transformed into men who want to date her. Howey’s the dog and fellow “Shameless” actor Justin Chatwin is the kitty.
Steve recalls, “I was l talking to one of my friends and I said, ‘I’m shooting a movie. I bleached my hair, I’m wearing a dog collar, and I’m running around naked.’ And he goes, ‘Are you really shooting a movie or are you living out a fantasy up there?’”
A line worthy of “Shameless,” for sure.