Hollywood Foreign Press Association
The Shameless star had a tradition of reading the New York Times' "Modern Love" column to the Mr. Robot creator every weekend, even if it had to be over the phone. After they skipped a Sunday, Esmail insisted Rossum read the column the following Friday—which, suffering from a backache, she begrudgingly said she'd do from the bathtub.
"I didn't notice any kind of ring in his pocket, and I began to read the article, and the story is about a director who falls in love with an actress, and I started to think: Huh, that's strange," Rossum told the story to Vogue. "And then I realized that it was our love story. At first, I freaked out because I thought perhaps he had actually put it in the paper and I hadn't seen it, and everyone knew it but me. And then, I kind of scanned to the end and it said, 'Love, your Sam.' And I realized that he had gone through this whole process of writing this whole story."
Esmail called in a favor at the Times to have his essay printed to look like a legit page in the paper, featuring a Ralph Lauren ad at the bottom and everything.