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The True Detective Star Who Almost Played Frank Gallagher On Shameless

Showtime's "Shameless" is a dark comedy that follows a large family from the South Side of Chicago as they try to make ends meet by any means possible. The show centers around Frank Gallagher, the patriarch of the clan and genuinely an incredibly bad person. Frank, played by William H. Macy, always puts himself ahead of his family and is never slow to throw someone under the bus if it means saving his skin. Frank consistently struggled with alcoholism and addiction throughout the 11 seasons of the show, which usually was the cause of his general neglect of his children.

Macy does an excellent job portraying this troubled character and can show that even though he neglects his children, he still is proud of them. Throughout the series, Frank will do small things to help his family out, but also has no problem hurting them if it means he gets to come out on top. Not many actors could play this type of role with believability, which made casting Frank correctly a necessity if this series was to work.

Looking back, it is hard to think of anyone else who could have possibly played Frank, but the first actor that was in talks to play the role was not William H. Macy.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Woody Harrelson was the first choice to play Frank Gallagher

"Shameless" was originally a British series that almost never made its way to the United States at all. According to an article from The Guardian, some in Britain didn't think that "Shameless" could work in the United States because "the American market can't handle our truth or our British grittiness." However, the author of the article did believe it could work and even gave some suggestions on casting, like Kevin Federline and Lindsay Lohan playing the roles of Kev and Veronica.

But before it makes mention of that, it casually drops this little detail, "the talk is of Woody Harrelson playing pissed-up patriarch Frank Gallagher." The show may have been entirely different if Macy didn't end up playing the role of Frank, and it's not easy to think of anyone else in that part. So, what would it have looked like if Woody Harrelson had taken on the challenge?

According to the creator of the British show, Harrelson was in talks to take on the role of Frank in 2007 — a full four years before the show would eventually premiere in the United States.  Harrelson definitely has a wide range when it comes to the parts he has played, so seeing him as Frank isn't impossible. But even Harrelson didn't think that he was the right fit for the show.

In an interview with Shortlist, Macy said that he ran into Harrelson after accepting the role of Frank on "Shameless." Harrelson asked Macy what he was up to, and after Macy told him, Harrelson responded by saying, "I watched the British version and I just thought it was really good. I didn't think I could do it better than that." Macy was quick to slide in with a well-timed quip when he paused for a moment and said, "I can."

"Shameless" wrapped up in 2021 and left some unanswered questions on the table, but none of those questions had to do with whether or not Macy was a good fit for the role of Frank because it's hard to imagine it any other way.