Way back in 2018, Emmy Rossum made a shocking announcement to Shameless fans: The ninth season would be her last time playing the series lead, Fiona Gallagher. This came after the actor had won a contract negotiation battle for higher salary, which presumably ensured regular viewers that she would be on the Showtime favorite for a bit longer. In a new interview, Rossum revisits her fight for wage parity on Shameless, and her decision to leave the series for her upcoming dream project, Peacock’s Angelyne.
“I certainly was never trying to make any kind of grand political statement,” Rossum tells The Hollywood Reporter after being asked about her contract negotiations on Shameless.
“I was only trying to do what felt right,” she continues. “The idea of not continuing on Shameless was not one I ever wanted to entertain. So when it all worked out, I was thrilled—thrilled my small victory was part of a much larger tide. But my story is not unique. It was just public. Wage disparity becomes even more pronounced when you factor in age, race, body size, and orientation.”
After the contract negotiations were completed, Rossum would continue appearing in Shameless until its ninth season, before ultimately departing and heading for other creative pastures. Though she left the long-running series before its finale in 2021, THR says Rossum holds “no regrets” about her decision, as she was “anxious for new material.”
And that “new material” came in the form of her reading THR’s 2017 exposé about the real identity of Angelyne, the mysterious 1980s billboard queen. Rossum and her husband/collaborator Sam Esmail decided to option the story, and it’s what lead to her announcing her “impending Shameless exit,” as THR writes.
The miniseries Angelyne is Rossum’s initial project under her first-look deal with Universal Content Productions, and Rossum will play the titular blonde bombshell.
Angelyne premieres on Peacock on May 19.