‘Shameless’: Why Allison Janney Didn’t End Up Starring in the Show

by Taylor Cunningham

In Shameless, Allison Janney was originally pegged to play the part of Sheila Jackson. But after realizing how much of a commitment the series would be, she bowed out.

According to a 2010 Deadline report, Janney overcommitted herself by agreeing to star in both Shameless and Mr. Sunshine. And when she had to choose between the two, she went with Mr. Sunshine.

Allison Janney did star in the role for the series pilot, though. And she would have continued with the show had the series not changed its mind about how much screen time the character would get.

Before watching the first episode, the creative team didn’t intend to make Sheila’s part as big as it turned out to be. But because Allison Janney played her so well, they realized they needed more of her.

After Janney walked, Joan Cusack took her place. The new actress did a remarkable job playing the promiscuous, agoraphobic housewife. And we can’t imagine that there are any Shameless fans out there who would disagree. The Primetime Emmy Awards also echoed that sentiment by handing her a trophy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2015 and a nomination for the same award five other times.

Unfortunately, Allison Janney didn’t have quite as much luck with her part in Mr. Sunshine, though. Showtime canceled the series after only 13 episodes.

However, she did recover from the setback in 2018 when she won an Oscar for I, Tonya. And then, in 2013, Janney went on to star in her own sitcom, Mom, which won her two Emmys.

So in the end, Janney’s decision to leave Shameless wound up being a great career move for both her and Joan Cusack.

Why Emmy Rossum Didn’t Appear in the ‘Shameless’ Series Finale

In 2021, Showtime’s Shameless came to an end after an 11 season run. And series original Emmy Rossum wasn’t in attendance.

Though Rossum was one of the main characters for 110 episodes, she did not appear in the series finale, which had fans scratching their heads.

So during an interview with Deadline, showrunner John Wells explained the star’s absence.

“You know, [Rossum] very much wanted to [be in the finale], and we wanted her too. It just hit at just the wrong time with the continuing shutdown.”

As Wells explained, Rossum lives in New York City, and the shutdowns made it impossible to get her to LA. Because of the mandates, traveling and filming required more time than usual. And they “couldn’t figure out how to do it in a way that would work with her schedule.”

“We would’ve loved to have her back,” he continued. “And she wanted to come back. But it was one of those things that couldn’t get done during the pandemic.”