Emmy Rossum announced she will not return for the tenth season of the series after nine seasons playing Fiona Gallagher on Shameless. Although the actress made no claims that her compensation affected the decision, her previous fight for equal pay has viewers questioning her reasoning for departing the show.
31 year-old Rossum wrote in a lengthy Facebook post on Thursday that she would be leaving the show that provided her with “real connections, real friendships that bring us back season after season after season” and that her departure was “hard to put into words, feelings.” She continues: “See, in real life, unlike Fiona, I’m an only child. I never had a big family. Being ensconced in that messy Gallagher family love is something I’d always dreamed of. But even off set, it feels real. We’ve watched the kids grow up into the strong, talented, independent human beings that they are.”
The Phantom of the Opera star also praised her character, calling Fiona “layered and dynamic … fierce, flawed and sexually liberated,” before concluding, “I know you will continue on without me, for now. There is much more Gallagher story to be told. I will always be rooting for my family. Try not to think of me as gone, just think of me as moving down the block.”
Rossum famously confronted the show’s producers over her salary in 2016, forcing the Showtime network to delay renewal of the eighth season. She is the show’s female lead, but was paid less than her male counterpart, William H. Macy, who plays Fiona’s absentee father, Frank. And for the new season, Rossum wanted to make more than him to compensate for seven years of lower paychecks.
Though Rossum aknowledged that the disparity made sense at the show’s beginning because she was less famous than 68-year-old Macy, who is an Oscar-nominated actor. Plus, of course Shameless was her first TV series. But then after a few years, Rossum said at the 2017 Vulture Festival, “the leadership started to feel somewhat shared … I loved the show, I loved everyone in it, I wanted to keep doing it, but I just wanted it to feel right.”
In December 2016, Entertainment Weekly confirmed that Rossum and Warner Bros. reached an agreement, with Rossum excitedly sharing the news on Twitter.
“Playing Fiona Gallagher has been one of the great privileges of my life,” she tweeted. “I’m so happy to continue w my SHAMELESS family! Back to work in May!”