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Why Lip Was One Of The Only Shameless Characters Who Consistently Smoked

Compared to the laundry list of illegal and immoral shenanigans the Gallagher family gets up to on "Shameless," smoking is a minor offense. It's not so much a vice as it is an accessory or punctuation. Over the course of the pitch-black comedy's 11 seasons, a number of characters are habitual smokers, including Fiona (Emmy Rossum), Mickey (Noel Fisher), and Ian (Cameron Monaghan). No one, however, chain smokes more consistently than Lip (Jeremy Allen White), whose intense nicotine addiction at one point supplants his alcohol dependency.

According to White, Lip became the series' smoking poster child because the non-smoking actors were less believable. "It is surprisingly difficult to fake smoking if you're not a smoker; audiences can kind of tell," White told Vulture in 2012. The actor, who is a smoker in real life, took the proverbial reins. "And so they kind of took that away from Emmy and Cameron and now just have me smoking in literally every scene," he continued. "I carry the smoking burden completely."

Jeremy Allen White brought his real-life habit to Shameless

For Jeremy Allen White, smoking was a skill he honed on the set of "Shameless." "Unfortunately, I've been a smoker for quite a few years. I think that's something that practice made perfect for both me and Lip," the actor told Esquire in 2016. "I think I started smoking around the same time I started doing the show, and it's something I've gotten better at as he's gotten better at it."

In 2012, White lamented that he would "need to get off the show before I can even fathom the idea of quitting," but the habit stuck after "Shameless" concluded in 2021. A 2022 profile of the actor for GQ is littered with smoke breaks, plus an awkward anecdote about stepping out for a smoke with Sean Penn at a party – "[We were] just sitting, smoking in silence," White recalled. The author even noted that White "smells like American Spirits."

White is still bringing his smoking expertise to various projects, most recently the set of "The Bear" — another series in which White plays a troubled Chicagoland chain smoker. Maybe he'll switch to the herbal stuff before "The Bear" returns for Season 2 in June.