If we’ve learned anything from the past four seasons of Shameless, it’s to expect the unexpected. The dramedy starring Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy returns to Showtime tonight for its season five premiere, and we couldn’t be any more excited to welcome the unpredictable Gallagher fam back to our screens. After last April’s finale revealed that Jimmy Steve (Justin Chatwin)--the presumed-dead ex-boyfriend of Fiona Gallagher (Rossum)--is very much alive, anything seems fair game this season. And when it comes to Shameless, we really do mean anything.
So, what will the rowdiest bunch on Chicago's South Side be up to this time around? Plenty, says Shanola Hampton, who stars as the Gallaghers' neighbor Veronica Fisher on the show. “You’ve never seen any of the characters like this before,” Hampton tells InStyle. “You’re really going to see everyone grow.” One thing that will stay the same: Veronica’s "fierce" attitude. “She's very clear when it comes to getting what she wants and needs,” Hampton says. She tells InStyle about playing Rossum’s best friend, her character's post-baby wardrobe, and the place where the cast really bonds: the dinner table.
InStyle: Veronica and Fiona are the ultimate BFFs. What’s it like to work with Emmy Rossum?
Hampton: It’s wonderful playing opposite her, and we get along really well. For our last cast dinner, she set up something at a restaurant in Beverly Hills, which was super fun. It’s always nice when we get to look like ourselves and not our characters.
Were there a lot of cast dinners during filming for season five?
When we’re in Chicago, it’s like being at camp because we’re working together and staying in the same hotel. We always go out to eat together—we’re pretty much all foodies. Chicago’s food is fantastic.
We'd imagine that it's pretty chaotic when the whole cast gets together like that. What goes down off-set?
We’re a big family. It’s very loud, and there’s a lot of laughs and jokes. Steve Howey [who plays Hampton’s onscreen husband, Kevin] is usually the culprit.
Some of the show's raunchiest scenes ever--and that says a lot--have featured you and Steve Howey. How do you get them just right?
Our chemistry and our banter just flows and it always has. When you have scenes like that, you just have to go for it—you can’t judge it.
Veronica and Kevin just welcomed twins last season. How will motherhood change your character?
Tremendously. It doesn’t just change Veronica—it changes Kevin and their dynamic. This is the first season that you get to see them really go through a struggle and find their footing, which was challenging for us because we haven’t had to experience these emotions for them before.
You just had a baby last year, too--congrats! What was your reaction when you found out that Veronica would also be expecting?
When I told [executive producer] John Wells that I was in the family way, he said, "Great, because Veronica’s going to be this season, as well." I thought, "Thank god that we’re both pregnant at the same time—now they don’t have to spend time hiding my pregnancy!"
Speaking of wardrobe choices, can we still expect the same risqué outfits from Veronica now that she’s a mom of two?
Veronica’s going to be Veronica with or without kids. She may be a little—and I mean a little—more conservative now. Instead of doing six-inch boots maybe she’ll do high top wedge sneakers, but she still has her cleavage. What would be the point of just having a baby if you can’t show off the cleavage?