Despite having their fair share of ups and downs over the years, Veronica and Kevin are no doubt the rock of Showtime’s hit series Shameless — something actress Shanola Hampton takes pride in alongside costar Steve Howey, who she calls her “ride or die” off set too.
“He’s the best. That chemistry you see on the screen is there, but there’s a friendship that’s going to be forever and well beyond this show,” the South Caroline native, 40, tells Us Weekly in an exclusive interview. “Steve is awesome. He’s the best human being. I love him.”
The successful actress, who hosts “Beyond the Scenes” as part of a partnership between Showtime and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, dishes to Us all about the new season of the show as well as some of her favorite sets to visit.
“What’s great is that I get to walk into the Alibi and it really feels like a bar,” Hampton tells Us of the amazing prop detail, which she tours in one of the behind-the-scenes videos. “It’s one of my favorite sets. And you want to go grab the bottle of whiskey, but it’s not real. Or if it is, it’s been there so long (laughs). That’s one of my favorite sets.”
“I also love, because of the sentimental value, I love going into the Gallagher kitchen,” she adds. “What people don’t is that when we got the pilot, we had a week of rehearsals. We just hung out in the living room and that kitchen. We played guitar Hero, and we sang and did karaoke. We did just so much rehearsing. That house has such a meaning to all of us.”
Here, Hampton speaks more about what’s to come this season, specifically with the “throuple” formerly known as V, Kev and Svetlana:
Us Weekly: The show recently got picked up for a ninth season! Congrats on that!
Shanola Hampton: It’s such a blessing to be on this show. I’m don’t know what I’m going to do once this ride is over.
Us: Was signing on for another season a no-brainer for you?
SH: It was because of the people I get to work with. We’ve been on this ride together, a core group of people, since the pilot. It’s really one of those things where how many opportunities are you going to get to ride something to start to possibly finish? I still love the stories. And I love the writers. And I love the cast. It really was a no-brainer for me.
Us: Let’s talk about V, Kevin and Svetlana. She really wanted that revenge!
SH: I think revenge sounded really good for Veronica. Then you realize that a third person is quite helpful when you have multiple children and you’re trying to run a business. Reality sets in after a little bit without Svetlana. And Veronica has some tough choices in maybe trying to negotiate some things with her.
Us: Can they get back to where they were?
SH: I think once you’ve hurt someone to that magnitude, it would be hard to be in that kind of “throuple,” in that kind of relationship again. But I don’t think your sexual attraction to someone dies just because they did something bad to you. Sometimes your libido gets in the way.
Us: It’s nice seeing V and Kevin together and happy. This season seems a big lighter. Is that fair to say?
SH: Yeah, yeah. V and Kev are back. And they’re back as a duo that is working together, parenting together. They go through the health scare, which I think … I was so upset. I was like, “Please do not hurt my Howie.” I had no idea, but the fact that they brought to light breast cancer in men, I thought that was really well done. Super funny, but makes you think. But yeah, V and Kev are back but there are still things they have to sort out. Life has changed after kids. There’s a reason why Svetlana was able to come in and grab a piece of Veronica’s heart. You’re going to find the answer to that this season. And it’s an answer that I, as an actor, wanted to know as well. Why? It makes more sense this season.
Us: So is there something missing in her relationship with Kev?
SH: Yeah. I think once you discover what’s missing, everyone will be like, “Oh, yeahhh. I see that now. I could see how that would be.” I don’t think it’s something that’s been talked about at all in their relationship because it’s a new dynamic since they’ve had kids. It’s changed.
Us: Tell me about working with Steve. You guys have such an amazing chemistry.
SH: We are like an old married couple off set. He’s my ride or die. He’s the best. That chemistry you see on the screen is there, but there’s a friendship that’s going to be forever and well beyond this show. Steve is awesome. He’s the best human being. I love him.
Us: What about V and Fiona? I love when they are in scenes together.
SH: V and Fiona are back in a really great place. Even though their lives — and this is what happens and why I believe our show is so good — because relationships and friendships change as you grow as an individual. That’s what you see happen over the course of eight seasons with Veronica and Fiona. They both had to grow, but they are back together. They are best friends. They are frick and frack. Those scenes everyone loves to see of Veronica and Fiona, that friendship, you’ll get to see a lot more this season.
Us: How do you think Veronica changed since season 1?
SH: She’s changed drastically. That’s life. She started off being very … on the couple on the show, we started off being the comedic relief in a lot of ways. Then she went through the struggle of not wanting kids. And then saying I do want kids, but not being able to have kids. Then suddenly being able to have kids. How do you deal with life after kids? There’s been so much change in Veronica, but one thing that’s stayed steady is her loyalty and the way she speaks her truth. You may not agree with her all the time, but she’s honest, she keeps it real and she doesn’t hold back her emotions. When she’s felling something, she says it.
Us: Any storylines you want to explore more?
SH: I would love to see what came with Ethel. Where’s Ethel? I would love Ethel to come back. You know how fast kids grow up? She ran off. The baby would be maybe 5 or 6 years old now. I would love for her to come back with the kid. That’s one of the things I’m going to try to pitch.
Shameless airs on Showtime Sundays at 9.m. ET.
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