Emma Kenney: If Emmy Rossum ‘had a bad day, she made it a bad day for everybody’

Showtime’s Shameless ended this year after a whopping 11 season run and six additional episodes featuring the journeys of some major characters. Star Emmy Rossum chose not to return for the final two seasons, with her last episode airing in March, 2019. During her 2016 contract renegotiations, Emmy fought for pay equity with her costar, William H Macy. (Macy supported her and Showtime did as well.) There was speculation that Rossum would return for the series finale, which aired this April, but mild spoiler she did not. Shameless showrunner John Wells said that was due to the pandemic. Plus she was possibly pregnant during filming. Emmy welcomed her first child, a daughter with her husband Sam Esmail, in May. It’s also possible that that there’s no love lost between Emmy and her former costars and that they didn’t miss her.

Emma Kenney played Emmy’s on screen sister, Debbie. Emma is now 22 and she’s been on Shameless from the start, having played this character from the age of nine. Emma was on the Call Her Daddy podcast this week, where she really spilled the tea about Emmy. She said Emmy was a pain in the ass on set, basically, and that she made it hard for everyone. Damn! You could tell that Emma was trying to be generous to Emmy but that she has dealt with some sh-t from her and isn’t hiding it. Here are some quotes from her, via Yahoo!

Kenney said it “one hundred percent” felt like a sibling relationship with Rossum, 35, “in good and bad ways, to be honest.”

“We were both so young, I was obviously a lot younger. There were times where she would try to be a good influence and then there were times where she’d be blatantly giving me not the best advice,” Kenney told host Alex Cooper. “Maybe she was struggling with her own inner problems and taking it out on other people, but we all handle situations differently.”

When asked if she felt like people were pinning the two against each other, Kenney replied, “I felt that dynamic for sure and I never understood it.”

“I was 9 and she was over 10 years older than me, so I’m like why is there a weird competition here when I’m not trying to compete?” she continued. “I don’t know if it was other people on set creating that, or if it was her creating it, but I know I wasn’t creating it.”

“I have a lot of love for Emmy, I’ve known her for so long. We haven’t spoken in years… but that’s okay. I have a lot of love for her, and I hope that she finds her happiness,” Kenney continued.

“It was weird at first for sure but it also — the set became a little bit more of a positive place, I’m not gonna lie,” she admitted. “I remember pre [Rossum] leaving, I’d go to set some days and I’d be very anxious about having a scene with her because if she had a bad day, she made it a bad day for everybody.”

Kenney credited co-star Shanola Hampton, who played Veronica Fisher, with being “a second mom” and “big sister” on set.

“She’s always been there for me, was always giving me good, sound advice,” she added.

[From Yahoo!]

I watched Shameless up until about halfway through season seven. Emma is an excellent actress and you really saw her come onto her own in this show. I’ve never heard anything bad about Emmy up until now and have had a good opinion of her. However I read over our past coverage of her and there are some pink-ish, not red, flags. She did an interview for Esquire where she talked extensively about her dog’s wang, some of her other interviews have been questionable, and she said, while promoting her partnership with Burt’s Bees that “there seems to be something inherently at odds about beauty and feminism.” That’s all I can find though and this is the first I’m hearing that she can be a grumpy a-hole. However I asked around. A source whom I trust has a brother who worked as a PA on Shameless. He said that she’s not a pleasant person. If she sends more details about it I will update this post.

Update: The source’s brother called Rossum “very entitled and mean with others.”

Episode 706



Photos credit: Avalon.red and Showtime

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40 Responses to “Emma Kenney: If Emmy Rossum ‘had a bad day, she made it a bad day for everybody’”

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  1. Abby says:

    Dang it dang it. I love Emmy Rossum. She’s my girl crush—I think she’s so gorgeous. Loved her since Phantom of the Opera. I hate to hear this. 😩

  2. FilmTurtle says:

    Emma Kenney is pretty great on “The Conners,” although she doesn’t have a lot to do with such a big cast. But I look forward to her career; she has a forthright quality you can’t buy.

    • Bettyrose says:

      Her talent is so wasted in The Connors after playing such a complex and rapidly developing character on Shameless. (Also, both casts filmed in bubbles last year so how was she in both bubbles at once? That bugged me a lot last year since both shows were in production pre-vaccine).

      • tealily says:

        Ooo, good point! Maybe extensive testing?

      • FilmTurtle says:

        Good question.

        I like “The Conners,” but they aren’t utilizing her at all. She and the young actor who plays her brother are better than just one-liners and then walking into another room.

  3. kgeo says:

    I read somewhere a long time ago that she wasn’t pleasant. Emmy was definitely great in the show, but there were times where I was more interested in Debbie and Veronica’s stories. I kind of thought they did Veronica’s character wrong with the crazy Russian 3-way. Like it was too crazy of a situation and it wasn’t needed to make the Veronica/Kevin/twins situation interesting. I guess everyone got one of those crazy story lines, but that one seemed over the top. I liked Ian and the other brother’s story lines too at times. Everything circled around Emmy’s character though, and it really didn’t have to, but I guess they needed her to tie it all together.

  4. Bookie says:

    Lainey has had some not-flattering stories about her over the years.

    • Laura-Lee MacDonald says:

      Yeah, my understanding is that she is not a team-player at all. I’m not surprised to hear this, and I hope Emma Kenney goes on to do great things.

    • Nick G says:

      Lainey haaaated her, to the point that she used the term “Rossum” to refer to anything disgustingly, disingenuously sugar-sweet.

    • Katie says:

      Well, that sent me down an archives rabbit hole. It’s interesting, because her aversion to Rossum is deeply wrapped up with Lainey 1.0 meanness for meanness sake. However, she seems to have had several credible reports of mean girl behavior over the years, including lording over a Met gala invite to Leighton Meester that later turned out to be filled with lies. Or the Fug Girls reporting from fashion week a magazine employee calling her a nightmare to work with.

      • Nick G says:

        Yeah Lainey was mean to a bunch of people back in the day, has done somewhat of a 180, but I found her credible re Rossum (I can’t even think of her as “Emmy” now, lol).

  5. Case says:

    I’ve never seen this show so I don’t feel any specific way about these people and it might be true that Emmy Possum isn’t pleasant. But I will say it is unbecoming to talk smack about your costar in an interview. If Emma has a lot of love for Emmy, maybe she shouldn’t talk bad about her publicly?

    • Lory says:

      I have no problem with it. As a working actor, you don’t have a lot of control and can be working in really toxic environments. As a front runner she can’t go to producers to talk about Emmy. What other outlet does she have? Maybe not a great career move but glad she’s speaking out.

    • Elaine Stritch says:

      People are not obligated to hide another person’s bad behaviour.

    • Tash says:

      Unbecoming?! Haha! Talking “smack” is the one way to hold people accountable for their actions. If you don’t have control, influence, etc., that’s sometimes the only way to deal with nasty people. Maybe Emma Kenney should have just kept her mouth shut *eyeroll

    • Deering24 says:

      Shoot, dishing out smack is often the only way crappy on-set behavior gets called out. And it gives other industry folk a heads-up as to who to avoid.

    • Miss Margo says:

      If I work with someone, and they turn out to be a toxic person, I’m talking about. I’m removing them from my LinkedIn and if anyone were to ask me about them, I would say the truth. Don’t be an ass to your coworkers. Period.

  6. Elaine Stritch says:

    Ah yeah… I feel like I’ve been hearing it here and there for years and I remember blind items in Shameless’ heyday about her being a bit of a jerk. It’s a bummer but I’m not surprised.

  7. clomo says:

    Reminds me of that brat in Maps to the Stars who got jealous of the new younger kid. That movie has some good performances and despite its science fiction moments it is oddly accurate of a certain side of Hollywood. Worth a watch alone before bringing it out for a Christmas family reunion.

  8. JEM says:

    The thought of showing up to work and being grumpy and difficult is so weird. Why does anyone feel entitled to do that?

  9. lucy2 says:

    Well that’s disappointing. Emmy’s character was the only one I cared about on the show, and I stopped watching when she left – plus I was proud of her for fighting for equal pay.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ lucy2, me too! Though I did watch to see how it ended. You couldn’t help but have Emmy as the show runner as she was one of the few that were in an actual adult age range. She did carry a majority of the show in the early seasons, but coming to work and being nasty is hard to hear, as I really enjoy the show, and Emmy grew into how she played her character.

  10. Bettyrose says:

    It’s too bad about Emmy but she was the star of Shameless. She was a nobody up against William H Macy and Joan Cusak, two absolutely brilliant actors, and yet as Emmy’s role grew she carried the show more and more. She lacked the comedic skill of even some of the younger actors but had the most complex plot lines. So I totally respect her fight for equal pay on the show. She deserved it and good on WHM for supporting that. It’s not an excuse to be a diva though. Or competitive with a 9 year old actor.

    • Hrefna says:

      She wasn’t a nobody though, she’d had starring roles in movies in the aughts. She was cast as a name actress that the audience was meant to recognize. And she’s always been known as a diva.I agree with her fight for equal pay, they used her name recognition, as well as Macy’s, to get that show launched they should have paid her equally.

      • Bettyrose says:

        I really only knew her from the Day After Tomorrow, which was a smallish role. Glancing at Wiki, I see she wasn’t a complete unknown but if she was cast as a named actor, the goal was to attract a different generation than Macy or Cusak. I would still wager those of us who were initially watching for the adult stars of the show weren’t as familiar with Rossum. Either way, she held her own and quickly became the main character. Macy’s plot lines were foils to Rossum’s. They wouldn’t have stood alone while hers did. So I do understand why she felt she needed to assert herself as the star. But Emma also grew into her own with solid standalone plot lines. Gawd I hope there’s a spin off.

    • Ann says:

      I’m disappointed to hear that she could be a Diva and a jerk, but I agree. She was the heart of the show as much as Macy was, at least after the first couple of seasons. She deserved equal pay. And I stopped watching before the show ended, not because I didn’t care about the other characters but because they chose to make it seem as though Fiona had never existed. In the first episode after she left, they show Debbie putting an unopened letter from Fiona on top of a whole pile of unopened letters from her. It felt like a deliberate dig and that pissed me off.

      I really like Emma Kenny though. I hope for good things for her.

      • bettyrose says:

        Ann – I kept watching because I was so hooked on the show and really needed to know what became of the other characters. I do feel like the show lost something in the last two seasons. I think the writers just weren’t bringing it like they used to. But I was actually pretty happy with the development of all the characters. Lots of ridiculous twists and turns, but ultimately fairly believable outcomes for all of them. I recommend the final two seasons on that point (and as I said above, I’m really hoping for a spin off. I thought I’d read that Kev & V might get one).

  11. Juju says:

    I recall reading an interview with her when Phantom came out and she struck me as very impressed with herself (with a Lea Michele personality, before I knew of Lea). I didn’t see anything after that so I assumed she had matured a little bit or it was just not a great interview. Maybe my first impression was accurate after all. I wish I could find the interview!

  12. Hrefna says:

    As long as I’ve been aware of Emmy Rossum (long before Shameless) I’ve also been aware of her reputation as a unpleasant diva. I do think she’s a good actress though, and she was great in Shameless. I do think Hollywood needs to rethink the behavior it accepts from actors on set, yes it’s a high strung profession but actors in other milieus manage to behave professionally. Wasn’t it Chris Columbus who said after working with British actors on Harry Potter that he always wanted to cast British actors afterwards because they were so professional and the sets were so much nicer to work on because of that?

    • Snappyfish says:

      It has always been known she was a diva. Butler was as nice as he could be about her while filming Phantom & he eventually admitted she was a nightmare.

  13. whatWHAT? says:

    wow, all grown up and really quite pretty.

    I’m sorry to hear this about Rossum. I liked her a LOT as Fiona and thought she carried that show at some points.

  14. Isabella says:

    Fiona was my favorite character on Shameless–and I hated the way the show would never let her win. The moment she got the teeniest bit successful, they jerked the rug out under her and we had to watch her abusing drugs and having weird sex with strangers. Emmy did a good job of working within those difficult dynamics. She also looks great on the red carpet.

    It is cool that the show was able to go on without her. Kudos to the cast. Glad to hear it. I didn’t watch!

  15. tk says:

    This seems believeable. I think Emmy is pretty and well-dressed, but that aside, hasn’t there been plenty of stories where journalists, old schoolmates etc said that she was snooty or demanding?

  16. Tiffany says:

    This ain’t new. There were stories that her career was stagnant after Phantom because of her behavior and her Stage Mom. Some thought her talent was not worth it at the time. I always got the impression that Emmy was just someone who took no crap from anyone but then I heard the story of her behavior being so bad one day on the set of Shameless that William Macy stepped up on set, in front of everyone and put her on blast. And that dude is a pro and would never do something like that without going through the chain of command.

    • Deering24 says:

      Oh, she has a Stage Mom and diva-tude? That explains everything. 🙁 I was wondering why Phantom didn’t give her a bigger boost. (Relatedly, she was on Law and Order when she was about ten or so, and I did not recognize her until years later.) A shame she and Michele can’t untangle their talent from their damage…

    • Sid says:

      I can see it. The vibe I have always gotten from her is very much “obnoxious New Yorker who grew up on the Upper East side and displays the negative stereotypes that go with it,” even though I don’t think she is from that part of the city.

  17. FrodoOrOdo says:

    I used to have trouble keeping Emma Roberts and Emmy Rossum straight because Emmy always came off in a way you would expect someone with Emma’s pedigree to.

    I agree with the poster above that Rossum was definitely cast as a known talent for Shameless. It really seemed like Rossum was being thrust in our faces as being on the cusp of being a big deal for a long time before Shameless, which is another reason I mixed her up with Emma forever, because she was billed as a known talent without a ton of roles, certainly nothing terribly memorable to back it up.

  18. Delilah says:

    I’m no actress but I am a professional in HR in the Transportation industry and can say, I emphasize with the nuances of battling for equal pay. It seems like Rossum was used for her star power but others don’t agree that was that she was that big of a draw. Me, personally, I was well acquainted with her—acting and beauty. Quite impressed Shameless took her out of the typecast of being this little perfect, well behaved princess to an hardened, their words, “ghetto” or “hood” chick from south side Chicago. I wasn’t always convinced with her performance because she wasn’t quite trashy enough in appearance as I believe they wanted us to believe.

    That said, back to my point about equal pay. I believe that she should have been paid her worth. When an employer uses you to drum up business or crowds and you’re effective, that should be enough to justify being paid your so-called worth. And Shameless was a big success. I think the diva behavior was out of bitterness for not being respected for professional contribution. Leaving was a significant message. Good for her.

    But where’s her career now? Did she have a backup plan? Did she land on her feet and show them, as they say, “the best revenge is your paper”.

    • remarks says:

      Her Wikipedia shows she did a movie with Liam Neeson in 2019.

      Not sure if the pandemic has stalled things for her a bit. I think she also had a baby, which can slow things down a little.

      She has something coming out in 2022 she executive produced.

      I’ve heard some negative things about her, but I think i just assumed people were jealous of her beauty. I guess I was wrong.

      I’m willing to watch stuff with her in it, regardless of what people think of her privately in terms of being a brat. I have the same reaction to Katherine Heigl. I suppose that suggests some kind of star power/charisma they both have. Sure, I’d wish they were better-behaved, but I’ll still watch them anyway. On the other hand, I can never forget Juliana Marguiles’s negative reputation when I’m watching her onscreen.

  19. Miss Margo says:

    I’m a pretty good judge of character and I can see Emmy not being very nice. This info isn’t shocking to me.