KEEPIN' IT REAL! The Feisty and Frank ALICIA COPPOLA Steals Scenes On SHAMELESS!

KEEPIN' IT REAL! The Feisty and Frank ALICIA COPPOLA Steals Scenes On SHAMELESS!
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Alicia Coppola
Alicia Coppola
Photo by Marc Cartwright Photography

After a single conversation with Alicia Coppola, it's hard to even imagine that someone so passionate and sincere even has the ability to fake it and play someone else. And yet, watch the actress on Showtime's outrageous family dramedy Shameless and she immediately manages to transform herself into an entirely different person- while always keeping the same brash and bold provocative voice that makes her so incredibly charismatic to begin with. Coppola references the acting camp filled with acclaimed jokesters Louis C.K., David Duchovny and Pamela Adlon as her inspiration- and that is easily because it is certainly a camp where she belongs. Witty to a fault while always able to bring out the dramatic punches, Coppola would be a perfect on-screen tennis partner to match the humor of the hilarious Pamela Adlon, and should definitely be cast as her sister- or at the very least, her best friend.

Not like the talented tough-talking Italian isn't already cast in an extremely juicy role. On Shameless, Coppola has fit perfectly into the large ensemble cast of some of the most talented actors in the business, taking on the role of Sue- Ian's boss, and perhaps, mother figure. One of the many glorious things that Shameless does right which other shows fail to do is make a point without spoon-feeding their audience. As funny as the Showtime series is, the dramatic element really is for an extremely sophisticated audience that recognizes that this show, at its core, is very much about a lost family dealing with the pain of having an addict father and bipolar mother and the struggles that go along with this hardship. One of these struggles is the fact that the children of addicts seek to repeat the patterns of their parents in themselves or the people they take into their lives, and that has definitely already been seen with Fiona and the addicts she has been drawn to, or Lip searching out a new father figure in his professor while falling into alcoholism himself. Now, the show dives even deeper into that theme as Ian seeks out a maternal figure, which Coppola's character of Sue seems apt to fulfill.

Ian has always been closest to their mother- right down to his bipolar diagnosis, and he has also felt never-ending disappointment from her. Looking for guidance and care just as much as the rest of the family, it's no wonder that he would turn to a motherly mentor- and Coppola swoops in to play that role with the nuanced class you would expect from Shameless. The actress states that she never wanted to be too maternal outright, and wanted to keep her feisty character as "one of the boys" so that Ian would listen to her, and in true Shameless fashion, the mechanism also helps keep her hilarious. Shameless would never dare to take the easy way out and rub the message they are trying to get across in the face of their fans, and instead, Coppola's shocking humor and seasoned talent blends perfectly with the rest of the show while still helping to advance the story.

But, that also circles back to the fact that Coppola seems almost destined to have been on the series to begin with. The actress claims that she seeks out projects that are extreme, while always based in reality because that is what she is drawn to- and really, that's because of who she is. Even in her own story, Gracefully Gone, the book Coppola penned regarding her caring for sick father, she is always the same assertive and strong storyteller that mixes humor with her tears- and it’s that kind of exciting realness that can't be suppressed that makes her so electrifying.

In the interview below, Coppola talks about how happy she is to be coming into the lives of the Gallagher's, and what to expect on this season of Shameless, as well as why she admires people like Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon, and what she would like to do in the future! Read on for more!

*****

So, your character Sue seems to certainly have a tough side, and given what we learn in the premiere, Ian looks like he is already taking her advice. Will we be seeing him take more of her advice?

She is still very much "The Greek Chorus" for Ian. She's the peanut gallery. She sees exactly who he is, even though he tries to hide- she sees him. And I think that makes him uncomfortable, but it also makes him feel cared for. I've tried to make her be maternal, but also make her still be one of the boys.

Ian always had a very close relationship with his mother and he was a lot like his mother, while Lip was more like the father. With Lip looking like he is searching for a father-figure in his professor, are we going to see Ian trying to look for a mother-figure in Sue?

Yes, Cameron [Monaghan] and I have had long talks about who these characters are and their histories. So, I think for me, I wanted to play Sue so that Ian definitely did have a comforting place to land, but she still is very real and hardened- so, she gives him advice the way he will be able to receive it. There is an episode coming up where you will see the softer side of both of them and you will see more of a "mommy" coming out, rather than a big sister- and the writers were so brilliant because they were able to write Sue in that way. She is able to show Ian his life and patterns in the way he will receive it- but that's John Wells and his camp for you, they're just utterly brilliant! All of these characters are on their own lifeboat surrounding the main love boat, which is Frank, and although they are all so out to sea, they're still connected. I find it really interesting, because as much as they all want him gone, it's so clear that they don't. It's just so well-written.

"Shameless" is easily one of the best shows on television. Were you a big fan of the show before you were cast?

Well, I can definitely say that I was a fan of everyone involved in the show. I am a huge fan of William H. Macy, Emmy Rossum, Shanola Hampton, Steve Howey, Cameron- they're all just brilliant actors that I've been dying to work with. I wasn't initially a loyal audience for the show, and now I'm catching up, and I'm definitely a new fan! I just pinch myself that I'm actually a part of this. It's something that I've always wanted to be a part of- this kind of ensemble cast where the stories are just so real, and so true. We do get tired of the big, fat lie where everything is shiny and wrapped up in a pretty pink bow, and this show is the antithesis of that- so, I'm very much a huge fan.

And not only do you get to work alongside Cameron Monaghan, but this truly is a very great cast. Who else would you love to work with in this business and what other roles would you love to play?

First of all, I'm really lucky, because I have already worked with a lot of the crew on Shameless, so we're all very aware of each other and how we like to work and there's very much a mutual respect and admiration. It's amazing. And the directors that I've been able to work with on Shameless, like Chris Chulack and David Nutter- they're just so smart. I just feel so fortunate. But, I'd like to work with everybody! [Laughs] I'm just such a huge fan of the work in general, so when I get an opportunity to work with someone who has written something original or is an enormously gifted actor or director, I just want to be a part of it! I would love to work with Francis Ford Coppola- because I would love to finally know if we're related or not. [Laughs again.] I would love to work with Louis C.K, or Pamela Adlon- that show Better Things is just incredible. I love that whole camp. David Duchovny- I love all of those people. The actors, writers and directors live their lives on the fringes and on the extreme- and that interests me. I look for things that pushes the extreme of the pendulum, and not so much the in between- like Better Things, Louis C.K., Californication- they all have that. Bloodline is another show that I'm just in awe of. They live in the extreme, and I love that- and that is very much what Shameless does and why it's incredible. They're all very much based in reality and very honest. And if this lead to me working on Better Things- that would be great! I would love to play Pamela Adlon's sister! [Laughs]

Can you give any other scoop on this season of "Shameless" and what is to come?

Oh, I can't tell you anything! I wouldn't want to spoil it for everybody! All I can say is that these Gallaghers are a gagglin' group of crazies that I'm very proud to be a part of.

You also have your own book! Talk a little bit about that! What inspired you to write it?

It's called "Gracefully Gone," and it's available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It has five stars and I'm very proud of it. It's basically a decade long conversation between my father and I. When I was twelve, my father was diagnosed with brain cancer. That was in 1980, and in 1983 he wrote a journal retrospectively from his diagnosis through his remission. And when he began to die, I came home to take care of him and I kept a journal during those six months. It took me a while, but I finally spliced them together- and what remains is a love story between my father and I. It's a coming of age story of a young girl who is searching for her father in all the wrong places, and although it's about cancer and death it is enormously funny and I am now adapting it into a screenplay.

*****

And with five stars on Amazon and the powerful voice of Alicia Coppola behind it, "Gracefully Gone" is destined to be a hit once it makes it to the big screen. For any fans who might have any doubts about that? Just watch Shameless.

Shameless continues tonight, October 9th, at 9PM on Showtime.

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