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The 'Shameless' kids: Carl and Debbie, a dynamic duo

February 24, 2011 | 10:37 am

Emma Part three of four in ShowTracker's "The 'Shameless' kids" series.

He enjoys melting action figures in toasters. She take pleasures in gallivanting with an elderly lady posing as her estranged (and dead) aunt Ginger. Carl and Debbie may be the youngest siblings (along with baby Liam) in the Gallagher clan on Showtime’s “Shameless,” but don’t be fooled by their short stature and minimal years of existence: They’re pretty darn tough.

“They’ve had to deal with a lot of stuff,” said 12-year-old Ethan Cutkosky, who plays Carl, in a recent phone interview just after finishing some homework. “But they mostly shrug it off because it’s usual to them.”

Shrug it off, maybe. But the brother and sister pair have taken to dealing with the chaos of of their unabashed family -- headed by a boozed up father (played by William H. Macy) -- in their own ways.

Carl melts things or acts out in other ways: “He likes to be a troublemaker," said Cutkosky, who appeared in the 2009 horror flick "The Unborn." It’s sort of his way of getting attention. And he sort of has to do crazy stuff -- crazier than other boys -- because it’s harder to get attention in that family.”Ethan

Debbie, on the other hand, kidnaps neighborhood kids (OK, it was one): “Debbie just wants to be daddy’s little girl,” said Emma Kenney, 10, whose directorial debut, “The New Girl in Town,” was honored as a finalist at the 2009 New Jersey International Film Festival. “She wants the all-American family: apple pie, white picket fence -- that type of stuff. There's a part of her that wants to be adopted by someone like Martha Stewart. She’s very smart, quick-witted -- more serious than the others. But she’s very lonely, I think. There's a lot of things going on that she's too young to fully understand.”

It's adult drama on an adult channel -- one they and their friends are too young to watch. Or are they? 

"At first my friends didn’t know what Showtime was and I had to explain it to them a little bit," Kenney said. "I told them it was an adult channel that they will never be watching ... They thought it was really cool."

Cutkosky had a different experience: "Pretty much every kid in my class has already watched it," he said. "I was a little shocked."

Off-camera, the duo carry on their sibling love (and rivalry). Cutkosky has learned what annoys Kenney (calling her “Ginger”) and she enjoys playfully punching him while on set.

One thing they do agree on is they'd like to see Johnny Depp stroll through as a long-lost Gallagher relative.

And they agree on who they wouldn't like to see on the show: Justin Bieber. No amount of hair cuts will change their mind.

"I don't know if he's tough enough," Cutkosky said.

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Top photo: Emma Kenney as Debbie Gallagher in "Shameless." Credit: Showtime

Bottom photo: Ethan Cutkosky as Carl Gallagher. Credit: Showtime