William H. Macy says Joan Cusack and Jeremy Piven have come a long way from when he baby-sat them while they were growing up outside Chicago.
Cusack co-stars with Macy in the upcoming Showtime series "Shameless." Macy replaced Piven on Broadway when Piven dropped out of the David Mamet play "Speed-the-Plow" in 2008.
Macy got involved with Chicago theater after moving to the Windy City following college. He says he met actor Byrne Piven, Jeremy's father, when the elder Piven did a play for the St. Nicholas Theater Company, which Macy co-founded with Mamet.
Macy says that when "Jeremy was just a little kid," Byrne Piven became Macy's mentor and often offered him odd jobs for things like baby-sitting and carpentry, "because I needed the work."
Macy says he was in a play with Joan's father Dick Cusack about the same time. He says that while filming some racy scenes in bed with Cusack for "Shameless," he and his co-star have howled about what her father, who died in 2003, would have said if he knew what the future held.
"That would have been an interesting conversation," he said.
Macy says it was clear that Cusack and Piven had the acting bug at an early age. He says they, along with Cusack's brother John, were active members of the Piven Theatre Workshop, run by the Cusack's dad and his wife, Joyce.
Macy is married to "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman, and their daughters, 10-year-old Sofia and 8-year-old Georgia, are now close to the ages Cusack and Piven were when he baby-sat them.
He says that the jury is still out on whether his kids will follow in their parents' footsteps but that if they do, "It's OK with me. This has been a great business for my wife and me," he says, and if they want to do it, he will support them "completely."
"Shameless," a comedic drama about an alcoholic, single father dealing with a family of six, premieres Jan. 9 on Showtime.