'Shameless' Star Jeremy Allen White on Lip: 'He Doesn't Want to Become a Yuppie'

Jeremy Allen White  Shameless 2012

It’s summer in Chicago on the second season of Showtime’s Shameless. And just as the melted snow has revealed a side of the city we didn’t see on its first season, many of its characters are exposing sides of themselves that we only saw a glimpse of before. Similarly, oldest Gallagher son, Lip, will begin to face aspects of himself that he hasn’t wanted to face before.

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“The Frank character, he’s a drunk, he’s crazy, but very intelligent and I could imagine that Frank at Lip’s age could be very similar to Lip,” Jeremy Allen White, who plays Lip, tells The Hollywood Reporter.

“And I think that Lip starts fearing the possibility in this season that that could happen,” he continues. “There are some connections that Lip makes that one day he could become like his father and he really, really tries his best to avoid any of those possibilities, but kind of in the wrong ways.”

Like Frank (William H. Macy), Lip’s natural intelligence has thus far been used for moneymaking schemes and getting out of the trouble they’ve gotten him into. And the question as to how he uses those abilities will become an issue in the family this season.

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“In return, Lip is equally as frustrated,” he says. “Because he thinks, ‘Why? I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t ask for what I have. Why should I have to do anything with it? Why can’t I do whatever I feel like? Why can’t I just be another guy in this neighborhood?” 

“I think it’s really about Lip loving where he comes from and his roots are very important and he doesn’t want to leave that,” he continues. “Lip doesn’t want to become a yuppie. He doesn’t want to go out into the world. He feels very safe in this atmosphere. It’s where he grew up and it’s where he feels like he’s able to survive and he doesn’t want to leave.”

It’s in that desire to stick to his roots where Lip will be forced to deal with his increasing likenesses to Frank and things get pretty bad for the character before he realizes it for himself.

“There’s a lot of strain in the family and Lip is kind of separated from them for a while and that’s when you really see some similarities to Frank,” he says. “He’s going around town looking for places to stay.”

Jeremy Allen White, Laura Wiggins Shameless ShowtimeOn the love front, Lip will find himself dealing with feelings toward Karen that he’s not used to. There’s the challenge of another man, the challenge that he doesn’t really know what a healthy relationship looks like, and lest we forget the fact that she had sex with his father last season.

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“Lip’s battling with those feelings with Karen throughout the second season,” White says. “It’s very hard. If my girlfriend at any point, did something like f--k my father, I wouldn’t be able to look at her. It would be something very difficult to do for me and I had a very hard time wrapping my head around the idea that Lip is still struggling to have some kind of relationship with this girl and I think that’s a testament to how empathetic Lip is.”

Executive producer John Wells said during the most recent TCA press tour that he would never write anything for simple shock value, to get a laugh, or something that destroys a character in any way. He gets help with drawing that line by listening to those around him, including the actors.

White says that he’s typically fine with story lines showing Lip crossing moral boundaries to make a buck, but he did approach the producers and writers about his character’s story line in respect to Karen.

“I didn’t understand the idea of chasing this girl who has f--ked up your life so terribly,” the 20-year-old says. “So that was very difficult, but I managed to come up with something and I hope it works when the other episodes air.”

Shameless airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro