AwardsLine Editor Christy Grosz, Managing Editor Anthony D’Alessandro and contributors Paul Brownfield and Thomas J. McLean assist with Deadline’s TV coverage.
Three of the supporting acting drama series hopefuls, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Emilia Clarke (Game Of Thrones) and two guest acting drama series hopefuls, Linda Cardellini and Robert Morse (Mad Men), share thoughts on their characters, shows and nominations.
AwardsLine: Have you enjoyed the way your character Skyler has transformed?
Gunn: When I first talked to Vince Gilligan about the part, there wasn’t a huge amount of information about her in the pilot. I wanted to make sure she wasn’t off in the background as the long-suffering wife. Vince sold me completely when he told me, “She’s going to be Carmela Soprano, but she’s going to be in on the crime.”
AwardsLine: Were there any moments where you were shocked by what your character did?
Gunn: There was nothing Vince ever did with the characters that felt wrong. Everything felt true to the environment that he created. But that moment when she goes in to see Ted (Christopher Cousins) in the hospital (was surprising). She feels terrible remorse, but at the same time, she recognizes fear and there’s something seductive about it—it’s her Heisenberg (Walt’s drug-lord alter ego) moment. Somebody on the set said, “It’s the Heisenberg moment.” She’s got that same quality that Walt has. Those moments did make me gasp.
AwardsLine: Why do you think Daenerys has become such an iconic character?
Clarke: There’s a couple reasons. George R.R. Martin has written a beautiful growth process of taking a young girl you feel like you want to protect, and then watching her protect herself and grow into her own and turn into a strong woman and leader. And also, the dragons, man! I think the reason she’s such a popular character is the CGI dragons look pretty cool and the magic of them is definitely a quick way of making a character stand out.
Related: EMMYS: Drama Series Overview
AwardsLine: Fantasy is not normally the sort of thing Emmys voters go for. Why do you think the show has been able to break through?
Clarke: It’s down to the writing, and it surpasses the genre. It’s much bigger than just the genre. I think that it’s taken three seasons for it to really flourish in that sense. And I think that David (Benioff) and Dan (Weiss) have succeeded in writing beautiful, complex characters that are very much in the genre but at the same time feel totally relevant and relatable. The shocking side of the storytelling is really powerful. And I also think the detail in the show is quite exceptional. I think that the scale is unlike what’s on many other television shows. It’s gone past the genre bracket and into good drama.
AwardsLine: How do you find working with visual effects? Do you have any reference on set for the dragons?
Clarke: Whenever I’m separate from the dragons, they have life-scale models, which look brilliant and I get very attached to. But whenever I’m actually handling the dragons themselves, it’s green tennis balls, which is challenging. I find myself having the most ridiculous conversations with myself. “What do dragon scales feel like? And how heavy is a dragon?”
Related: EMMYS: Drama Lead Acting Handicap
AwardsLine: Did you have conversations with Vince Gilligan about how the final season should end for your character, Jesse?
Paul: I sent out an email to Vince and the writers, right as they went into the writers’ room for the final season, just to (express) how I saw it ending for Jesse. It would just feel wrong if I didn’t at least say it to them because I feel such a personal connection to this character for many reasons.
AwardsLine: Did you have any symbolic ceremony to move away from Jesse when the series wrapped?
Paul: I made a joke on the last day of shooting that we should all get matching tattoos, and it snowballed into reality. It’s just a mark to remember—not that we’d ever forget. But the night I wrapped, I got on a plane straight from getting my tattoo. I flew out that night and had a call the next morning and just jumped right into it.
AwardsLine: Are you getting different kinds of offers these days?
Paul: Every time I see Vince Gilligan, I constantly thank him for my career because without him, who knows where I’d be. There’s zero rush to jump into everything and anything: Take stuff that challenges you and makes you think and makes you grow as well.
AwardsLine: What sets Sylvia Rosen in Season 6 apart from Don Draper’s previous mistresses?
Cardellini: She’s the one that changed his trajectory. This stems from grappling with her Catholic guilt and Don (Jon Hamm) playing into that. When they are both caught by Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka), it’s an important turn of events. My pace as an actress on the show is different from the fast-speed preparation taken by other actors. My scenes tend to be solely with Jon Hamm versus at the office. My interactions are secret and intimate with his character, so that was the dynamic on the set.
AwardsLine: Does Sylvia give Don a conscience?
Cardellini: If anything, Don getting caught and being accountable to his daughter changes things. He’s already on a downward spiral.
AwardsLine: How does Matthew Weiner work with his actors?
Cardellini: At first, Matt only gave me minimal pieces of information about her and what the arc would be. Thereafter, whenever I had a question, he had everything so well drawn out. He is always there to listen, a resource on the set. What a great thing to know that you’re playing an important part of a larger thing. Whatever my role meant to me in Season 6, it means something greater in the entire series.
AwardsLine: Tell us about auditioning for the role of Bertram Cooper.
Morse: My agent called and asked if I would read for this new series, and I thought, “Oh, God, not another rejection.” Whenever I meet people on auditions, it’s like interviewing for a job where they forget my previous work (on the musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying). The chances of getting on a series are slim as they only hire so many elderly people. I walked into the office, and they give me two pages. I couldn’t understand six lines, so I turn to the intern, and I ask for his interpretation. It turns out, he wasn’t an intern, it was Matt Weiner. I received the part a few days later, and when I met Matt, he said, “I have great respect for you. During college, I traveled to New York to see you in How To Succeed.” He was touched by my performance and has a great memory of me. One time at a party, I sang “I Believe in You” to him.
AwardsLine: Despite his age and all the craziness around him, Bertram Cooper isn’t necessarily the moral compass on the show.
Morse: He enjoys watching the turmoil around the office. In Season 1, when Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) accuses Don Draper (Jon Hamm) of being a charlatan, Bert’s response was, “Who cares!” I quoted some old Japanese saying and scolded Pete for gossiping in the office.
AwardsLine: What’s the backstory behind Bert running around in his socks?
Morse: During Season 1, Matt and the directors instructed me to walk down the hallway in my argyle socks. When I asked why, they told me that I would learn in a future episode. Essentially, Bert admires Japanese culture. Therefore, I always take my shoes off and those entering my office have to take their shoes off. That wasted about five minutes of camera time.