Actress Emmy Rossum was an emotional wreck at the audition for her latest film You're Not You because a sick friend had checked in to a hospice hours earlier.

The 28-year-old Shameless star has dedicated her latest performance to her pal, who has since lost her cancer battle, and she reveals she learned she had landed the role of caregiver to Hilary Swank's disabled Als sufferer as her late pal's life was coming to an end.

Rossum tells the new issue of Elle magazine, "In my life, I have always been very scared of sickness, ageing, and death. So it's interesting that I got involved with You're Not You at the tail end of losing a good friend to melanoma.

"My friend, who died before we even started shooting, went into a hospice. She'd stopped treatment and had tumours so big you could feel them through her rib cage. The same day I auditioned for the movie. I was so broken open that day that I'm sure it only added to my performance."

Rossum's friend's final days gave the actress plenty of material she could bring to the film: "The only good thing about terminal illness is that it removes all of the pretence so that two people can cut right to getting to know each other in the most human way: taking care of each other both physically and emotionally."