Joan Cusack admits to Gold Derby her role as the agoraphobic Sheila on “Shameless” is “outside my comfort zone if I’m going to be honest.” However, she decided, “I’m just going to accept everything and no judgments. It’s a great feeling, and I highly recommend it.” Her character may not have left her house in five years but she has managed to find a new boyfriend — the irrascible Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) — and treats him to gourmet meals. Cusack says she loves acting with Macy and that there is “a relaxedness and enjoyment that I guess comes with age. It’s great to work with someone who’s so competent and generous and is a good person.”
This is the first regular TV gig for the two-time Oscar nominee since her own show, “What About Joan?” was axed by ABC in 2001. Cusack only got this part after Allison Janney jumped ship to co-star in the Matthew Perry laffer “Mr. Sunshine.” While ABC cancelled that sitcom after just one short run, Showtime has asked for a second season of this American verison of the Brit hit.
Although Cusack appeared in 11 of the 12 episodes in the first season of “Shameless,” her billing has her listed as a guest star so that is where she will contend at the Emmys. If she is nominated, the judging panel will watch “Frank Gallagher: Loving Husband, Devoted Father.” In that episode, Sheila, who is tending to the youngest Gallagher, must find a way to leave the house when the toddler wanders away. For Cusack, “It’s such a funny thing that she ties bed sheets to the bannister. She does it for a little baby that she loves so much. I love all her frailties. It’s just really awesome to play somebody so complex like that.”