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Nic Pizzolatto, executive producer and creator, True Detective
Like a filmmaker, hellbent on making the best independent film ever, before Pizzolatto pitched the project to five TV networks, he went about finding the right director for his doppelganger detective series, selecting Cary Fukunaga. Then they hooked up with Matthew McConaughey, who was so passionate about the project, he called Woody Harrelson to come aboard. “Everything a writer writes is from a true place, but I didn’t take any inspiration from any real people per se, rather the job and the culture at the time (during the ’90s and early aughts),” said the Louisiana native about his influences. As far as season 2, Pizzolatto asserts, “we aren’t keeping secrets, there’s just empty rumors out there.” Switching True Detective from miniseries to drama, “was HBO’s decision and it underscored their passion and enthusiasm for the show,” he adds. While an episode zig zags between time frames with the greatest ease, Pizzolatto revealed that such parameters were clearly defined in the script. Nothing was discovered in the editing room. “The time jumps were probably more of a challenge for the actors” who had to play the opposite of who they were in 2012.
“(Woody’s) Marty is actually a changed man while (Matthew’s) Cohle has devolved into his worst obsessive quality.”
Beau Willimon, EP House of Cards
“Season 2 is about the final climb to the summit for Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey). We always knew it would be two seasons before he was in the vice president’s office, one heartbeat away from the presidency. The other thing we wanted to focus on was the incredibly complex marriage between Francis and Claire (Robin Wright),” said Willimon. Of course, he was elated with the series of noms for those actors who weren’t always front and center, i.e. BBQ consigliere Freddy (Reg E. Cathey) and the short-lived Zoe Barnes. When it came to killing her off as well as Corey Stoll’s Peter Russo in season one, Willimon stands by story. “You can’t be preiocus with it. House of Cards is about what Francis is willing to do and you can’t push any limits on that.”
Julian Fellowes & Gareth Neame, EPs Downton Abbey
Said Fellowes, creator-EP-sole writer of Downton Abbey on tackling last season’s tough storyline of Anna Bates’ rape, “A lot of the show is about the changing role of women and the organized labor movement. Different expectations that impact the roles of women, as well as their having to negotiate through the customs and new changes of the day. I always wanted to have a storyline that focused on rape, where there’s no question at all on how the victim is totally innocent. There was a culture then in some way that would have the philosophy of ‘Well, she shouldn’t have worn that skirt.’…I received several letters from women who were victims of rape, and they felt that they were guilty and brought it upon themselves. The subject matter fit with Downton‘s exploration of women’s changing role. The plight for women was evolving (in the early 20th century) and they were getting a great variety of jobs, but they were trapped by society’s old customs.”
Ryan Murphy, EP of American Horror Story: Coven and director of HBO’s feature film The Normal Heart
Between Coven, Glee and Normal Heart, Murphy amassed 34 Emmy nominations this morning. “I worked with Larry Kramer for five years on The Normal Heart. I really believed that it is the culture’s sacred text. It was important to get it right. The tone on the set was like that of a church. It was a passion project for everyone who worked on it,” said Murphy. His biggest high from Coven was how the miniseries showcased “the best actors or actresses in the world. It’s really a treat to see Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson and Angela Bassett all together. I would never have thought it was possible to get all these actresses together in one scene, let alone in horror title.” Regarding the upcoming AHS: Freak Show Murphy said, “It’s about identity and the disenfranchised, and how we treat people that are different. You could say that’s a recurring theme in all my work.”
Lead Actor – Drama
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Spacey’s favorite moment from House of Cards season 2? It’s too hard for him to name one. While that might seem like a stock answer for most nominees today, it only underscores how innovative the Netflix production is. “It never feels episodic, it’s like we’re shooting a movie. I think of it as one big arc. Where one single moment happened, I wouldn’t be able to say,” said Spacey. Audiences continued to stream the show about his badass D.C. politician Francis Underwood, never shrugging his evil ways. “He gets shit done unlike the government nowadays,” joked Spacey about Underwood’s appeal, “It (the show) must be fictional.”
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Said Washington about her wow moments this season, “Shonda Rhimes writes this woman (Olivia Pope) with such complexity. Everything I knew about the character in season 1 and 2, became unraveled this season, largely because of the appearance of her parents. It was the destruction of her world. The writers let you into the inner most intricacies of the characters on our show. They’re fully human, real characters in extraordinary circumstances. That’s why people gravitate to our show.”
Lizzy Caplan, Master of Sex
Though Caplan didn’t get to meet the sexual revolutionary she plays on the Showtime series, Virginia Johnson, she absorbed every bit of research on her out there. “She was so fiercely private about her relationship with Dr. Bill Masters. Had the public learned of their personal involvement it would have taken attention off their study.” Not to mention, as the series portrays, Johnson was a rather loose lady, but proud of it. “Virginia was hyper aware of the era, from a very young age, the idea of being a good girl. (Later in life), she loved sex. But she was well aware of the society she was living and she couldn’t broadcast that side of her personality. It’s a testament to her bravey that she held on to that part of herself. A woman who enjoys sex is scary to both men and other women, and I think that still stands so today.”
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Margulies was the first nominee to speak with Deadline this morning where she took a break from the first day of season six of The Good Wife. Looking back at the shocker of Will Gardner’s murder, the lead actress, who has amassed 10 Emmy noms and 2 wins, exclaimed, “I couldn’t believe our amazing storyline in the first season. If it wasn’t on the page, it wasn’t on the page. But to dig into these characters now –it’s amazing that there’s still so much to say, and it’s hard to keep that momentum going in later seasons.” As far as making her foray as director on an episode, which her co-star Josh Charles did this past season, Margulies says she’s content as lead actress and producer. “I’ve been asked to co-direct, which might be interesting, however, I’m the rare actor who prefers to produce. I like putting the cast together and finding material. There’s too much going on (as an actor) if I had to direct. I wouldn’t have time in the editing room. Maybe theater one day.”
Supporting Actress – Drama
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
As every Downton fan knows, one of the big storylines on the show last season entailed Froggatt’s Anna Bates who was raped. In preparing for the traumatic scene, and so as not to miss any authentic emotional beats, Froggatt did extensive research, speaking to therapists and period historians. She learned about the plot line at the onset of the season when the cast receives the first five episodes in script form. Putting the tragedy in perspective Froggatt explained, “It was a reminder of where we were in the social history of the early 20th century and what the attitudes toward women were and a man not controlling himself. A working class woman like Anna, in her social standing, wouldn’t have rights. She could become destitude, and could lose her social working status.” Froggatt received a number of letters from female viewers who were rape victims. “A majority of these women explained that like Anna, they were in an unfortunate postion where if they emoted about it, or spoke about it to those close to them, they wouldn’t be believed. They couldn’t come forward and the people around them were unsupportive”.
Lead Actor – Comedy
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
No disrespect to any of the British Emmy nominees, but lead comedy nominee LeBlanc’s takeaway from his Showtime series Episodes “was that speech I gave about British actors coming to America and stealing our parts.” Playing a version of himself is big treat. “Being in the entertainment industry, I see crazy things. And making a show about Hollywood with these exaggerated characters; it’s fun play this bizarre land version of myself.” For the most part. LeBlanc’s real life doesn’t play into the show or inspire storylines. LeBlanc chalks up all the humor to Episodes writers David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik.
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (Also a supporting actor nominee in the movie/miniseries category for The Normal Heart)
With three Emmys under his belt for playing Sheldon Cooper on the hit CBS series, what continues to amaze Parsons about the character is “The magical way in which the writers have handled the advancement of his relationship with Amy. It ain’t easy running their progress with these two love birds without alienating the viewers. But the writers do it so well, even in such moments like a kiss.” Reprising the role of acid-tongue AIDS activist Tommy Boatwright in HBO’s The Normal Heart, which Parsons originated on stage, was an honor for the actor. Explaining how Kramer’s play stands apart from the number of works out their on the subject matter of AIDs, Parsons observed, “It’s a snapshot in time. Almost like ‘Letters From’. There’s some literal stuff going on at specific time. These were events going on when I was a child, and never in my wildest dreams did I think they could happen. Certain specifics, that made you say, ‘Really, in this country?'”
Supporting Actor- Comedy
Tony Hale, Veep
Rehearse, rehearse. That’s the secret to the great rhythmic banter that the actors have on Veep. Unlike other comedy shows, the thesps on Veep exude the feeling that they’ve known each other since college. “I give full credit to (creator) Armando Iannucci. He values rehearsal time and we will workshop five scripts at time to see what gels, what bits are working. The writers lay out an amazing foundation” said Hale who returns with the cast to rehearse in mid-September. Hale’s fave moment from last season: Getting stuck in the can with Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ V.P. Selina Meyer when she discovers she’s going to be the new POTUS. “Playing opposite Julia, these are the moments I prize the most. We were losing our minds in that scene when my (character’s) nose was bleeding,” adds Hale. Next-up for Hale is a children’s book he has authored, Archibald’s Next Big Thing out in August. “It’s based on a lesson that I’ve learned here in Hollywood: Not to be looking for the next big thing. It’s about a chicken looking for the next big thing and a bee who travels around with him saying, ‘You gotta just bee.'”
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
For Ferguson, this season was, of course, all about Mitch and Cam’s wedding. “I’m sad my TV husband, Eric Stonestreet, wasn’t nominated. I texted him and he responded, ‘Who is this?!'”
Supporting Actress – Comedy
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Chlumsky has been working with Veep creator Armando Iannucci since his Oscar-nominated D.C. politico comedy feature In the Loop and “His process on the movie is the same as on the show. He loves writers, producers and directors who jive with his process. When you work with him, you know it’s going to be collaborative. There’s a chuck full of new things, it’s all going to be in the name of play. That’s become his signature.”
Lead Actress – Miniseries/Movie
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story
In previous Emmy seasons, Sarah Paulson has competed in the miniseries/movie supporting actress category, particularly for American Horror Story for which she was nominated last year. But this year, she stepped up to lead going to toe-to-toe in the category with her friend Jessica Lange from the show. Why the switch? “Well, when it comes down to it, I’m the supreme being. I don’t think supreme beings compete in supporting.” quipped the actress. But seriously her witch turned out to be the supreme being on AHS: Coven last season. In all seriousness, Paulson explains, “It was a combination of factors for the category change. FX and Ryan Murphy believed I should go for it.”
Supporting Actor – Miniseries/Movie
Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart
“The marriage scene between my character Felix and Mark Ruffalo’s (Ned Weeks) is the most proud experience I’ve had creatively as an actor. The scene was so out of its time. Mark and I undertook a journey. This is how so many people had to say goodbye: They had to hang on to each other and sob. What this generation of people went through, we were mostly trying to honor and remember in telling the story. On a lighter my second favorite moment from the film was the April Shower scene, when we celebrated the organization’s fundraising efforts bearing fruit, when domo was overturned. (Normal Heart writer) Larry Kramer was on the set that day with microphone. It was one of those moments where you were at the right place, at the right time.”
Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program
Hollywood guys running a burger joint in in the Boston area. How do American TV audiences relate to Wahlburgers which grabbed an unstructured reality nom? Pin it to Mama Wahlberg. Said Donnie Wahlberg, “Audiences see that we’re genuine people. We constantly hear that our mom reminds others of their mother. People are curious to watch us. She gets stopped by people everyday, who relate to her journey, some who have even lost a daughter. This is the icing on the cake for Mark and I: At 72, our mother is a reality star and the fact that we were nominated for this show trumps all awards.” As major Hollywood stars, they weren’t bashful about turning the camera on themselves when it came to making a reality show. “We weren’t out to compete with the Kardashians, we wanted to do this project because it sounded like fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” adds Wahlberg. Thanks to the success of the A&E reality show, the family is looking to opening a burger joint in LA in the next two years.
Outstanding Reality Competition Program
Bertram van Muster, co-creator The Amazing Race
Having already won 15 Primetime Emmys, why do voters keep going back for more Amazing Race? “They know the complexity and large scale and scope of our production. With all the locations, airplanes, automobiles, drama and story telling, voters recognize it’s an acrobatic act. We shoot 12 episodes in 21 days and fly 40,000 miles around the globe,” says van Muster.