Our latest Femme on Fire plays the role of the feisty Veronica Fisher on the hit show Shameless. While Shanola Hampton isn’t as wild as her character, she’s still one hell of a sweetheart. We caught up with Hampton late last year to talk about the upcoming season of Shameless (though she couldn’t say much!), which premieres January third on Showtime.
Playboy.com: Right now there are 11 days until the premiere of Shameless, which I know because you’ve been counting down the days on your Twitter!
*Hampton: *Yes, I am so excited. I love the show so much. I’m so excited about this season in particular; it’s definitely my favorite season so far.
Playboy.com: Does that mean you are the kind of actress that can watch yourself on television?
Hampton: Yes, absolutely. I’m a big TV addict, so when I watch the show I’m watching it as a fan, and of course when I’m on screen I criticize myself and pick myself apart, but I love looking at the rest of the actors; they’re so great. I sometimes find myself yelling, “Yaaay! That was so good! What a great scene!”
*Playboy.com: *I saw that you were really vocal about this on Twitter, too, which must mean a lot for the fans of the show to see that one of the main characters is as psyched as they are. Do you like that side of the interaction?
*Hampton: *I really do, it’s so nice. They take time to say nice things to you, and it’s so easy to say something nice back. Sometimes you get so many in a row you can’t say something back to everyone, but you can always do your best. I think the world has changed, it’s more interactive, and being a theater girl and growing up in the theater where there was always that automatic response it kind of becomes the television/movie version of theater, and we all really do enjoy that interaction.
*Playboy.com: * Your onscreen man Kevin [played by actor Steve Howey] has probably the most photos and gifs on Tumblr. They’re hilarious! Have you seen any of them?
*Hampton: *Yeah, I’ve seen some of them. Some people take screen shots of certain scenes and I think, “Whoa, you made a whole thing from that? Okay!” But believe me, this season they’ll have a lot of Tumblr stuff to put on, honey.
*Playboy.com: *Can we expect the same kind of crazy, hypersexual scenes between you and your onscreen husband in season three?
*Hampton: *You can expect some things you have never seen. Some situations you have never seen on television before. You will call me back and say, “Shanola. Ummmmmm you were absolutely right, I had no idea it was going to go there.” I’m telling you that. Never seen on TV before.
Playboy.com: There are so many shows trying to cater to that raw emotional viewer. People just want to see crazy shit on television now. What do you think sets the show apart from the rest?
*Hampton: *Well, I think that we have no boundaries. We have the perfect blend of comedy and drama, which is why I think we kind of have a rough time when it comes to award nominations; people really don’t know where to put us because we’re in the drama category but so much of our show is hilarious. And I also think that the risks that we take, even though they seem outlandish and out there, are reality based. This is a family, this is Middle America, this is comedy, this is how a lot of people are living. Maybe people won’t use the antics that we use, but people relate to it. So I think that’s what really sets us apart.
*Playboy.com: *I have to ask: what was the one thing that surprised you about shooting onscreen sex scenes?
*Hampton: *I think what surprised me the most is that it’s not romantic at all. You don’t get turned on at all. It’s so many people in the room, it’s not comfortable and it’s not sexy. There are so many cuts…It’s not at all what people will eventually look at and think, “Oh man, they must be so turned on!” Let me tell you, they are not. It’s not sexy. You don’t even feel sexy when you’re doing it.
Playboy.com: What has been the hardest scene for you to film?
Hampton: The most uncomfortable scene, I can’t give too much away, but it happens season three. Kevin and Veronica, this season’s storyline is trying to have another baby, and all I can say is that they take surrogacy to another level! And when you see the scene you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
*Playboy.com: *I can only imagine!
Hampton: You can’t though, you can’t even imagine. When I read it in the script I about went to the floor.
Playboy.com: You were saying that you were a really big television fan. What’s one show on television that you’d love to see a crossover in?
*Hampton: *This is a total setup question for me. If we’re going to stay on my network, Showtime, then I would love Shameless meets Homeland. I don’t even know how that crossover would work, but it would be great because Claire [Danes] and Fiona [Emmy Rossum] would just be hilarious together, so those two worlds colliding would be great. Realistically, we could probably do a cool crossover with House of Lies *on the same night. Or even one of those nights where we could go *House of Lies,*Californication *meshed together, wouldn’t it be really cool? To have Marty [Don Cheadle] and Veronica in a room together, with his sex addiction and her crazy sex fetish show? I think that would be really great.
*Playboy.com: *There’s a lot to your character, Veronica. Are there any of her qualities you’re jealous about?
*Hampton: *I can’t think of anything that I would be jealous of her for, but I admire so much of her loyalty and her lack of filter. I think that she gets away with a lot of things that she says, so maybe that would be what I would be jealous about. That she’s able to get away with having no filter. Because some of the things that come out of Veronica’s mouth…If I’d say them, my life would be in so much trouble! Like last season when she was walking around saying, “I’m not a racist, I just don’t like black kids.” All of those things that she says and the fact that she gets away with it are amazing to me.
Playboy.com: I see Veronica as a pretty fearless woman as well. What’s the wildest thing you’ve done in real life?
Hampton: Oh, I can’t reveal that! [laughs] I’m pretty boring. I’ve been married for a while, so my husband and I have had pretty wild trips. You know, we’ve gone across country before and have made some stops, I’ll say that.
*Playboy.com: *You’re a huge Vikings fan too, right?
*Hampton: *Ginormous. I bleed purple and gold. I love the Vikings so much.
*Playboy.com: *What do you think of Adrian Peterson's chances to break the single season rushing record this year?
*Hampton: *I think they are very good. Did you see the game the other day? 112 yards! He should win MVP hands down. This man came back from an injury without missing one game, don’t even get me started. There’s no question who should be MVP this season. That is all day, Adrian Peterson. He’ll break that record. I mean, he’s so close and I’m so proud and I just love him. [Editor’s note: We interviewed Hampton on December 17th, which is why this answer seems so dated for a fan.]
*Playboy.com: *I have one more question and it’s a fan question sent by @JerryArbson on Twitter: What’s your biggest fear?
*Hampton: *I sort of conquered it, but I’ll never do it again. But my biggest fear was riding in a helicopter, because I thought that’s how I would die, really. I did it in Hawaii, because my husband made me do it, but I still would never do it again. I was shaking, there was wind…I just know that the next time I go, if I were to ever go again, and I know that I’m not going to, I am going to die. I’ll probably die.