“VANITY IS YOUR ENEMY”The star of Shameless has the key to life figured out: Seize the day and eat plenty of grilled-cheese sandwiches.
From big-screen hits Beautiful Creatures, The Day After Tomorrow and last year’s You’re Not You, co-starring Hilary Swank, to small-screen stardom in the Showtime series Shameless, actress Emmy Rossum is learning lessons at every turn.
THE RED BULLETIN: You once said in an interview, “Men only need two things to be happy: cheese on toast and sex.”
EMMY ROSSUM: I was only joking.
Well, I’m sure there are plenty of men who wouldn’t disagree…
It’s true that men are wired more simply when it comes to their biological make-up. They’re normally thinking about food or sex.
Does your life philosophy include grilled cheese?
I try to live by the motto “Carpe diem.” Seize the day. We need to make a conscious effort to live in the here and now, because we don’t know how much time we have. I met a lot of patients with [neurodegenerative disease] ALS when I was filming You’re Not You. That sort of experience keeps your feet on the ground.
How does that grounding manifest itself in you?
I’m less afraid of illness now than I used to be. And I try to make even more of an emotional commitment to people who have problems. If I see someone who needs help, I’m the first to get up and offer it. Avoiding people who are sick or just in some way different is the easiest thing to do. But it only takes a tiny effort to start a conversation. “What is it you have?” And then we talk about it.
What do you do if there are no people in dire need around you?
It’s about a basic attitude to life. In Shameless, I play a woman earning minimum wage to help her five siblings survive. It couldn’t be less glamorous, but through her I learnt to give up vanity totally. Vanity is your enemy. The moment you start thinking about how you look, your brain blocks off everything else.
You once said that your Jewish heritage influences your view on life…
I identify more with the culture than the religion. I don’t speak Hebrew. I don’t keep kosher. But that’s not what it’s all about. The Jewish code of ethics and morals is at the heart of most other religions, too. Don’t lie. Be good to your nearest and dearest. Work hard. If you see someone who needs help, help him. Be the best version of yourself you can be.