It's no secret that Emmy Rossum, star of the Showtime series Shameless, is in great shape. The actress has always been an avid dancer and followed a gluten-free diet for years. But when it comes to filming scenes for her body-baring role as Fiona, she admits to not having total body confidence. Here, Rossum talks about getting over those insecurities, her diet (including the food she can’t live without), the exercise she hates, and why she thinks even supermodels like Marisa Miller have fat days.
SHAPE: In Shameless the series opens with you in your underwear and goes on to reveal even more skin. What did you do to get ready for such a revealing role?
Emmy Rossum: I think it’s about exercise, my endorphin level, and feeling confident [more than beauty secrets]. I’m lucky that my character isn’t a Serena Van der Woodsen. I don't have to look like an Upper East Side girl; I can look like a real girl. [My character] Fiona is not a member of Equinox so I don’t have to worry about looking perfect all the time.
SHAPE: When you do want to look good, what beauty products do you turn to?
Rossum: I love beauty products that double as other things. There's an RMS lip/cheek duo you can use on anything that’s great. I also like Suave vibrant shine spray. If I wake up and my hair looks dry or dull it really makes it look healthy and shiny like I just washed it.
SHAPE: What do you do to stay in shape?
Rossum: I take a lot of dance classes. I grew up doing ballet. I love Physique 57. Generally, I take spinning and I try to do things in groups. I don’t like a one-on-one trainer—too much pressure. And I hate push-ups, I hate them with a passion.
SHAPE: So can you do pushups?
Rossum: I can do about 8 with proper form, and then I’ve got to go on my knees. It’s pathetic! And I’m shaking at 8—dying!
SHAPE: Do you work out to music or in silence?
Rossum: I have to work out to music or a TV show like Pretty Little Liars. It’s just so all encompassing. I completely forget the world and enter this silly little murder mystery. I also work out to Rihanna. It’s empowering and sexy.
SHAPE: Although Fiona is a real woman, did you change your diet to get ready for the role?
Rossum: I've always been gluten free so that helps me to not snack on things that, in theory, put on weight. Not to say that I don’t eat crème brulee on the weekend—I do! I think if you deprive your body of anything for too long, your body will crave it and be really miserable.
SHAPE: Is there a food that you just can’t give up?
Rossum: Carbs. I can’t do Atkins. Being gluten free is big enough already. I do brown rice, I do potatoes—I love mashed potatoes. I do quinoa. I just need some kind of carbs in my diet. Otherwise, I just feel hungry!
SHAPE: Do you have any secrets for total body confidence while you’re filming Shameless?
Rossum: No, I don't think anyone has total confidence. Maybe Marisa Miller does, but I’m sure she even has fat days. It’s so hard to have confidence when you’re by yourself and all the images that are projected seem so unattainable. When you look in the mirror, you can’t help but feel like ‘I don’t look like that.’
I think that you have to know that when a woman walks into the room and she smiles, laughs, and has a good time, that’s the girl you want to be around. You just have to throw your shoulders back—that’s what my mom always told me when I was growing up!