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Macy is proud to be the drunken dad in ‘Shameless’
He is careful to modulate Frank’s drunken state as the day wears on.
“For a scene that takes place at 11 o’clock in the morning, well, that’s a four-beer buzz,” he explains, “as opposed to 11:30 at night, when Frank’s speech is very slurred.”
Playing a drunk, which Macy deems less a thespian technique than “a parlor trick,” comes with pitfalls: A great impersonation of a drunk can distract an actor from the primary substance of the scene.
“But if I’m pretty clear what the scene is about, then I just add on the drunkenness _ slurring or stumbling _ and it takes care of itself.”
Wardrobe helps too.
“I wear the same clothes almost all the time,” he says. “And I pride myself on this, as does our costumer, Lyn (Paolo): I’ve never had a fitting. She has sent me pants with the top two buttons missing and the waist too big. So I put a belt on it, I fix it. With Frank, close is good enough.”
“I cut it for the show. I cut it ON the show in a future episode. I won’t give away why,” he says. “And it was a daunting decision. I did have a great head of hair. I’d lived with it for three years, and I’d gotten used to it.”
Still, Macy isn’t the type to let vanity get in the way of a good role or a great performance.
Although he has achieved offbeat leading-man status in such films as “Fargo” (for which he landed an Oscar nomination) and the made-for-TV “Door to Door” (which he also co-wrote), the 62-year-old Macy has had a busy career on screen and on stage as a celebrated character actor.
But a few years ago, he got the hankering to headline a TV series.
By then his wife, Felicity Huffman, was flourishing on “Desperate Housewives,” Macy notes, “and she loved every part of it. I was jealous. I said, `I want to do TV, too!’”
So far, so good.
“I love `Shameless’ so much!” he says. “You get big stuff to do in scenes that are tough to do, with volumes of dialogue and a character who talks fast. You have to know your part inside and out. It really tests you as an actor, every single week. And I’m a better actor for it. I wish I’d done this earlier in my career.”
He mentions the book “The Outliers,” in which author Malcolm Gladwell advances the theory that if you practice something _ anything _ for 10,000 hours, you reach a key threshold of expertise. According to Gladwell, people recognized as experts have logged that length of service.
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