Ray Richmond is a contributor to AwardsLine

Boardwalk EmpireJon Cryer probably deserves an Emmy just for surviving with his sanity intact after the much-publicized tumult of the past 16 months on Two And A Half Men. After losing one co-star (Charlie Sheen) and welcoming another (Ashton Kutcher), Cryer is not only still standing but was rewarded in May with a 10th season pickup by CBS. And after having received six consecutive Emmy noms as a supporting player for his role as Alan Harper (including a win in 2009), the 47-year-old actor has decided to switch categories this year back to lead actor.

AWARDSLINE: Congratulations on the 10th season pickup. You couldn’t have been all that surprised.
JON CRYER: Well, we’ve kind of been thinking of this now as a new show in many respects. Plus, I mean, this business has no rules anymore. I don’t know if you’ve noticed. Nothing makes logical sense in this industry. So you never know. I’m just grateful for another year.

AWARDSLINE: And it feels different now working with Ashton?
CRYER: He’s a terrific guy, and he’s got this oddball sense of humor. I remember when we were getting ready for the first show back, and there was this time in there where Walden (Kutcher) is supposed to walk out nude. We’re wondering how we’ll be able to handle that with a live audience. And Ashton says straight-faced, “I’ve got a huge prosthetic penis in my trailer if you need it.” In fact, he wasn’t even kidding! He had it sitting in his trailer. It had been used in a Punk’d prank. And that’s what we wound up using.

AWARDSLINE: It’s such a rare blessing to be on a comedy series that hits double-digits after years on the air. You must feel like you’ve hit the lottery.
CRYER: Oh absolutely. Mostly, I have to say as an actor, to find a character that’s been rich enough for 10 seasons of shows … that’s very rare. I have enormous gratitude to (series creators) Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn.

AWARDSLINE: Speaking of Chuck, how are you getting along with him these days?
CRYER: Great. This was a very emotional time for him the past couple of years, and we all felt pretty great getting through it the way that we did.

AWARDSLINE: You deserve some kind of combat pay for being Switzerland and emerging intact through that rubble of 2011.
CRYER: You know, as I’ve said, the hardest thing is watching a friend in trouble the way that he was. You experience what Martin Sheen’s been going through all these years. Every day you wake up and you wonder, is Charlie gonna wake up too? And it’s awful to check your phone worrying that this is the day you hear that your friend is gone. So I’m glad that period of his life seems to be over and I really wish the best for him. I hope everything is better.

AWARDSLINE: In a jarring transition, what was behind your decision to switch Emmy categories this year from supporting to lead?
CRYER: The first couple years of the show, it became pretty clear to me that they were not hanging most of the narrative on my character. They were hanging it on Charlie’s character. It always felt a little cheap for me to claim to be in the lead actor category when Charlie was doing most of the work. So after a couple years on the show, I decided to go down to the supporting actor category, and that felt appropriate, and obviously it worked out well. Then this year the structure of the show changed, and they started hanging a lot more of the show on Alan. And so at this point it felt silly to be claiming the character as a supporting character. It’s really a two-hander now with Alan and Walden.

AWARDSLINE: You seemed to be genuinely thrilled to win your Emmy in 2009.
CRYER: I almost lost control of my bowels. I grew up loving TV so much. It was such an integral part of my youth, and I was completely an Emmy geek. So I would love to be that guy who sleeps through the nominations announcement, but instead I’m the guy who’s up at 3 AM in his underwear.

AWARDSLINE: How much gas do you think Two And A Half Men has left in the tank?
CRYER: Let me just say that I’m having a blast with Ashton. We have a very different sort of chemistry and comedic dynamic. There’s no telling how far that can go. It’s been a change-up that a lot of people weren’t sure would work at all, and I think it really does. So we’ve got a very wide horizon ahead of us. Or we could decide this is the year to make it a finale. I just don’t know. We’ll see.

(Emmy photo: Getty Images)