Emmy Rossum Opens up About Her 'Shameless' Departure: 'I'm Just Filled With Gratitude'

Hours after shocking Shameless fans everywhere with news she would be leaving the show, Emmy Rossum is opening up about eight years on the Showtime series.

Rossum announced her exit from the show after the upcoming ninth season in a long and emotional Facebook post reflecting on her time on the series, though in a new interview she admits she could never really say goodbye to her character, Fiona Gallagher.

"I will never be saying goodbye to Fiona," she said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "Fiona is a part of me and has been like every character is a part of you and you are a little bit part of them.

"My Shameless family is really my second family and I've spent so much time with them — 10,000 hours — that it really feels like we've all grown up together," she added. "I started on the show when I was 23 and now I'm not. And it's a wonderful, wonderful amount of time and I feel incredibly proud of everything we have created. I'm just filled with gratitude for everyone's hard work."

While Shameless is an ensemble drama with a strong and large cast led by William H. Macy, Rossum served as the sort-of leader playing the eldest daughter and mother figure to her younger siblings.

Despite leaving, Rossum believes the Showtime series — the network's highest rated show — will run for many years to come.

"We feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to investigate these characters and to continue to do so — and everyone will continue to do so until whenever the audience decides that they've had enough," she told the outlet. "I think the show could quite honestly go on forever, because the family is dynamic and the kids grow up and they have their own story lines and they branch out and they are fully-realized actors and human beings and they have opinions.

"I think there is so much to be mined here," she said of the show carrying on without her. "There are so few shows on television that are showing what it's like to live in America and struggle right now."

"There are so many shows on TV that are aspirational, that are about vampires or zombies, that are escapist in someway, or just about plain rich people. So to have a show that's doing what other shows aren't and to have the audience stick with it is such a privilege," she said.

Series creator and showrunner John Wells commented shortly after the announcement, saying the show is grateful for Rossum's performance for the past eight years.

He also promised that the season nine finale will include a "Gallagher-worthy" end to Fiona's story that will also leave the door open for Rossum to return for visits, or return long-term in later seasons.

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"It is always bittersweet when an ensemble member decides to move out of the proverbial house, but our door will always remain open for Fiona to return home for a visit, or to move back in," Wells said in a statement.

Shameless is set to return for its 14-episode ninth season Sunday, Sept. 9 at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.