There exists no sound of a celebrity more adorable than the recordings of William H Macy as he sings to his wife, Felicity Huffman, and their two daughters Georgia and Sofia on each of their birthdays. This year, to mark 20 years of marriage, Huffman (of Desperate Housewives fame) gave her husband time in a recording studio so he could sharpen up his songs and post them on SoundCloud and social media so the whole world could hear how keen they are for each other.
In the best song, Go Get the Car, Macy sings to his wife, "Happy birthday, happy birthday Felicity dear ...You're a mother and a lover, and mother what a lover, uh-oh she's turnin' red, But I'm tellin' you dear after all these years, I still can't wait to get you in bed."
There's a single comment under the SoundCloud post that says "Too cute to handle!" and that pretty much sums it up. The fact the two of them are 20 years in and all over each other is saying something by anyone's standards. But in an industry where milk lasts longer on the bench than most marriages, Huffman and Macy get headlines because their longevity is novel. And because they're so darn cute. After their red carpet appearance at the Emmys this year, a Vogue.com writer captured the zeitgeist with the rambling title Find Someone Who Looks at You the Way William H. Macy Looks at Felicity Huffman.
On the phone from Chicago during a break in filming season eight of the hit TV show Shameless, Macy grimaces over the US in the age of Trump and Hollywood in the age of Weinstein, but mention Huffman and he turns to mush. "I'm more crazy about that broad than I was at the beginning," he says. "We couldn't be happier. Life is good."
William H Macy, 67, born in Miami, is an Oscar-nominated actor, the original wayward car salesman in the film Fargo (recently rebooted as a TV series), a Lutheran, father of teenagers and a dog called Tucker, he likes motorbikes, he has a long career in theatre, an enduring friendship with playwright David Mamet, and likes to be called Bill. Macy has something of the Nick Cave look about him in his most recent red carpet appearances, but zoom in and his face is comparable to no one. Those bright green eyes that bounce out of him with an arresting youthfulness, offset by a generous amount of wrinkles and unconventionally wayward hair, make him look startlingly innocent and weathered at the same time. His face brings out the funny and hammers home the sad. As Frank Gallagher on Shameless, the seriously effed-up head of the family, Macy explores both drama and comedy. He has yet to tire of the man he's been playing since 2011 and says when he read the script before he was cast, he knew it was going to be a hit.
"I said, this is going to run a long, long time, I desperately want this role" - and, importantly, he still feels challenged by the work.
"When you play a character inebriated all the time or high in some way, it's a dangerous thing," he says. "You can find yourself doing a great drunk, but at the end of the day you say, oops, I did a good impersonation of a drunk person, but I didn't act the scene, so every once in a while I have to go back, just as I did when I first started my career, and break it down, and ask myself what's going on: what do I really want."
Fans can expect to see a new side to Frank Gallagher this coming season. "He is becoming more and more aware of his mortality," says Macy, "and he is worried about how he's going to retire. At the end of last season, Frank inherited a whole lot of methamphetamine from his wife before she died and over the hiatus has smoked every bit of it, so at the beginning of this season he's relatively psychotic. When he comes out of it, he's thinking: Whoa, that was rough, I'm no spring chicken, what's going to happen when I can't take care of myself because the kids have made it clear they don't wanna."
The show, set very consciously in a very lower middle class Chicago neighbourhood, mirrors a sector of American society that has come under the spotlight in the age of Donald Trump. Macy says the Gallagher family does a good job at tackling some of the big themes in modern civilisation: the struggles of the working poor, "one disaster away from homelessness", and also the importance of family as a form of protection against life's brutalities: "they have each other's backs, they take care of each other, and that's their hedge against being homeless; they know that they will all work together". Macy pauses for a long moment when asked to describe America and the Trump administration to those of us looking on at it from the bottom of the world.
"At the end of the day this will be good for our Republic, but boy it sure is painful right now."
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"There's a lot of turmoil here. What surprises me is the fact he was elected and how angry his supporters are. It has brought a lot of ugly things to the surface. I really believe in the US constitution, I believe America is one of the best ideas mankind has ever had, and at the end of the day this will be good for our Republic, but boy it sure is painful right now. It seems civility has gone out the window, truth is taking a beating, it seems Trump himself is willing to say anything, he doesn't tell the truth, and that is very distressing for me."
Even closer to home for Macy, there has been heat on his industry in recent weeks after revelations the producer Harvey Weinstein abused an alarming number of women over decades and managed to keep it under wraps. Felicity Huffman has spoken out against Weinstein (who produced Desperate Housewives) and Macy says it was no surprise when it broke that Weinstein had been abusing women and abusing his authority. "Most people went, well, duh, that's not a secret and it's also not a secret that when you get these driven men who have all the power, all the money, some of them abuse it and it's really great that is has blown up." He is optimistic it will change the industry for the better - "my industry doesn't mess around, it will totally change" - in the same way, he believes, Hollywood is making long overdue changes around representation and equality.
"So we have had some problems, a few years ago it blew up in the industry's face that the diversity of America wasn't being presented at the Oscars and it is sort of unofficial and all the studios are doing it on their own, but you can feel it, there's a concerted effort to bring in people of colour and women and people who haven't had a shot, they're being offered writing jobs, directing jobs, there's an open door policy.
"The industry realised they were wrong and they had to fix it and they are doing it and I'm proud to be a part of it. I support it too, even though it might cost me a job."
Shameless S8 premieres on SoHo on Monday 6 November, 9.30pm; S1-6 are available on NEON now and S7 will screen on NEON from Tuesday 7 November.