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Jeremy Allen White On Lip Becoming Frank, Karen's New Man & Gallagher Family Troubles

Date January 15, 2012
Jeremy Allen White On Lip Becoming Frank, Karen's New Man & Gallagher Family Troubles

At first glance, Lip Gallagher (Jeremy Allen White) is just your average punk. He's a scamming, chain-smoking, horny teenager, who takes after his deadbeat, alcoholic dad Frank (William H. Macy). Yet White's vulnerable performance in the first season of "Shameless" proved that when it comes to Lip, there's more than meets the eye.

He's incredibly smart, fiercely loyal to his family, and hopelessly in love with the girl he's hooking up with, Karen (Laura Wiggins). But all of that will be jeopardized in Season 2 of "Shameless" when Lip finally reaches his breaking point. "It's incredibly frustrating for Lip because he's done so much for the family, and the first time that he asks for any help in return, the family comes up somewhat empty-handed," White told HuffPost TV. "I think that there's a great sense of betrayal that Lip feels halfway through the season."

Not only does Lip have some serious family drama to deal with, especially when he goes head-to-head with big sister Fiona (Emmy Rossum), but he's also hung up on Karen, who's hung up Jody (Zach McGowan), a member of her Sex Addicts Anonymous group. Although he finds out that Karen and Jody aren't having sex, that doesn't ease Lip's nerves, thanks to some advice from Kev (Steve Howey).

So how does Lip deal with his family's betrayal? And what about his new threat, Jody? Read on to find out, as White dishes on what to expect in Season 2 of "Shameless."

I hear that this season Lip is going to tap into his inner Frank, which scares me a little. What's going to happen with that?
It is scary! I've thought about it before, even during the first season. And Frank, as silly and [as much of a] fuck up and as much of a drunk he is, he's still very smart, so I got to thinking that Frank probably wasn't so different than Lip when Frank was Lip's age. Then, in the writing this season, there are situations where Lip kind of gets cut off from his family. He's had this great safety net of Fiona and Ian, and even Karen at times, and that all gets pulled out from underneath him. He's starts looking for a place to stay for a day, and he's not in the house. And all I could think about was the second episode of the first season where my character is following his dad on a bike, asking his dad to come home, while his dad is running around the neighborhood, knocking on doors and seeing if he can crash on a couch. So Lip definitely seems to be heading in that direction. Things get a little self-destructive with him this season, as well as Fiona. I think they're both headed there. I think it's because all three of them have had very similar childhoods.

That's where Grammy Gallagher comes in, right?
Yes. You definitely see more of how Frank was brought up in this season. Louise Fletcher, who plays Frank's mom, comes back for a few episodes this season and stays with us in the house, and we get to see her relationship with Frank, which is really great. One of my favorite scenes of the second season is this scene with Louise. Bill [WIlliam H. Macy] and I are in a bathroom, and it's very strange. He's forced to bathe his mother, and I come in to use the toilet. First of all, it's strange because the family is so close in that way, but then Louise kind of makes fun of Lip. She's like, "Wow, that's such a tiny pecker. Do you have sex with girls with that thing?" And then I come back and say something funny. Then, Bill comes in and says, "Yeah, it's so tiny!" It's just this weird, vicious cycle of family cruelty that doesn't stop. I think that's kind of setting in, and Lip and Fiona are coming to terms with the possibility that as much as they're trying to fight it, they're turning into Frank.

Well, it's not like the Gallagher children have had any other role model.
Exactly! I think that's something the writers have addressed in Season 2. Where is Lip's father figure? For a moment, in the first season, you thought that maybe Steve (Justin Chatwin) could be a really good role model for Lip in a way. But then he turns out to be a car thief and he leaves Fiona and runs away, instead of dealing with the cops, and he gets Lip arrested. That doesn't turn out right, and you never want to mold yourself out of Frank. What's really sweet this season, I think, are these scenes that I have with Steve Howey, who plays Kev, that we have in the ice cream truck. It's so interesting because while Kev and Lip couldn't be more different intelligence-wise, Lip still goes to Kev and is still very vulnerable and asks him for advice and life lessons, and he's the last person that you think would be teaching Lip anything. Kev has a loving relationship with Veronica (Shanola Hampton), which is more than Frank or Fiona can say for any of their relationships. He also has a job, and while he's not the best at it, he's passionate about it and gets there on time. When you get right down to it, he's really the most legitimate male figure in Lip's life.

There was this great scene in this week's upcoming episode between Kev and Lip in the ice cream truck, where Lip comes to Kev asking for a bit of relationship advice, and his response is: "Watch out for the girls who don't sleep with you because that means that they're in love with you." It's such a funny scene.
Yeah, and Lip really takes that answer to heart because he doesn't know where else to go.

Lip has never really had that fatherly figure in his life, so does he take on the responsibility of being a role model to his younger siblings this season? There are a lot of great moments between Lip and Ian (Cameron Monaghan), especially when Lip helps him get into West Point.
You definitely see Lip start to help Fiona out with the burden of the family this season. He's definitely starting to fill out these kind of father shoes, which is great because I think he does a very good job. He loves his family, and he's very loyal to them. But at the same time, he was deprived of a childhood or any kind of real father figure. I think that there's some animosity there that comes out later in the second season, where he's having trouble and there's no one to go to. Not even Fiona can help. It's incredibly frustrating for Lip because he's done so much for the family, and the first time that he asks for any help in return, the family comes up somewhat empty-handed. I think that there's a great sense of betrayal that Lip feels halfway through the season.

What kind of trouble is he having?
He's just being swallowed up by this idea of leaving the neighborhood. His family are pushing all of these expectations on him, like going to college and getting a job. He starts to feel a bit taken advantage of, like he's supposed to go out there and make money for everyone else. Is that the plan? I think he's so smart, and has so many great gifts, but he doesn't necessarily want to do anything with them, and that's his choice. He doesn't feel like the family is supporting him, and instead, they're trying to force him into things. He doesn't want to be forced. And it's not even anyone's fault. That's what makes it so frustrating. There's a lot of conflict between Lip and Fiona because she's really pushing for him to do something with himself, and he's shying away from it, getting aggressive toward her for suggesting it. But really, they just want the best for each other. They just can't seem to reach a common ground. No one is wrong in this situation, which is why it's so funny to watch. It's a fight where both sides are right, but they are so adamant in how they feel about the situation.

Is that where Professor Hearst (Dennis Boutsikaris) comes into play? Will Lip start to listen to him?
He's kind of like the great foreshadower for the show. He mentions all of these things that Lip has kind of blown off, the idea of working in a McDonalds or getting a girl pregnant. He's brought them up, and Lip will face some of these issues soon, and he didn't take those warnings to heart. He totally blew him off. He even goes to the professor for help, but the professor is kind of like, "I told you so." So it leaves Lip in a very difficult situation where he has no one else to turn to.

I think another weakness for Lip is Karen. Where is that relationship headed?
I think in this relationship Lip is going about it as if he were a 10-year-old with a huge sex drive. He's really like a school boy in a relationship, and it's hard. I think Karen is probably his first and only love, and I think he probably sees a lot of his mother there, which is hard. He really needs that acceptance from a female in his life, and he just doesn't want to give up on Karen. They're of very similar breeds, Karen and Lip. I had a very hard time in the first season where Karen slept with Frank, and we're on the rooftop, and he's really quite accepting of Karen. I had a very hard time trying to wrap my head around it. Lip is very empathetic. As angry as he was, he wanted to be there for her and take care of her. He loves her.

That being said, how does Lip deal with Jody, Karen's new boyfriend?
Lip tries his best to destroy their relationship and to destroy Jody. He devises several plots to try and screw up the relationship, but then he comes to the realization that he won't be successful. Jody turns out to be such a great guy, and he succeeds in places where Lip could not. He's not the most intelligent guy, but he loves Karen. He knows what to do in a relationship, where Lip doesn't have a clue. I think that there's even a point of acceptance of Jody being in Karen's life. While Lip still loves her, he accepts Jody. He's come up with all of these plots to ruin Jody, but Jody always comes out on top, so it's like he earned it. He's a great guy, and Lip has to accept that.

What kind of plots does Lip devise to ruin Jody?
At one point, he uses a girl that he's sleeping with to come over to the Jackson's and try and seduce Jody, and Jody invites the girl in, and he sits down with her, and she tries to jump him, but he doesn't go for it. That's just an example of how Jody won't be manipulated by Lip. He's finally met his match.

"Shameless" airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on Showtime.

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