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Julian Fellowes, EP, Downton Abbey
I couldn’t be more delighted. I’m absolutely thrilled and slightly amazed, of course. Your goal is not to run out of juice as you finish. You’re trying to leave the stage while you’re firing on all cylinders. This is testimony, at the risk of sounding vain, to the fact that it feels we’ve managed to do it and not have a slackening off towards the end. We were originally going to finish on five years and as it got it closer we came to the conclusion we essentially needed a whole series about endings and moving on. So we decided to do a sixth year, knowing it was the final year. The cast all knew it was the final year, and that it wasn’t going to be revisited, so there was a sense of finality. That this is what we were going to say about these people, and that would be it.
Gareth Neame, EP, Downton Abbey
We’re very pleased with the crop of 10 nominations. The TV Academy anointed the show very early on when it won in its first year in the Miniseries category, and it’s been nominated for every subsequent season. It now brings out total up to 69 nominations, which for a foreign show, it was already a record before, and it’s a huge number of nominations. To think every season has been recognized is the icing on the cake. So many categories reflect the great talent and flair that goes into the work, such as costumes, cinematography, sound design and hairstyling. It really shows how much the TV Academy has supported the show right through its time.
Lesli Linka Glatter, EP/director, Homeland
Needless to say, I’m totally blown away and completely thrilled. … I work with an extraordinary team of people, the stories are very compelling and ambiguous and complicated, but you never know how people are going to respond. … People always say we’re in this Golden Age of TV, but we really are. The amount of extraordinary storytelling in TV right now is really amazing. And of course, all of the shows that are nominated are incredible, and I’m thrilled we’re asked to the dance! Our show reinvents itself every season, which is very risky and exciting and keeps us all on the edge of our seats — all of u s— and of course, the amazing Claire Danes is an extraordinary collaborator and has made me a more fearless director. And our writing team—Alex Gansa and the whole team—I feel like I’m so grateful to be working with this dream team of creative storytellers. And I’m thrilled that David Klein, our director of photography, also got an Emmy nod; he’s just brilliant, and this poor guy gets shipped into a new country every year. (Laughs)
Alan Yang, EP, Master of None
Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari cleaned up with their first season of Netflix series Master of None, taking four Emmy nominations, in a testament to the rising power of streaming services including Netflix and Amazon. “I feel good, man! Yeah—it’s crazy,” Yang says. “We’re just really happy for everyone that worked on the show. It takes so many people to put a show together, and so many people have to work really hard.”
One of Yang’s takeaway episodes for Season 1 was the episode entitled “Parents,” the episode submitted for the writing and directing categories. “I think, given that the show was created by me and Aziz, that one to us was so, so personal. It was one of the first episodes we wrote, before we had hired a writing staff or even really figured out what the show was,” Yang recalls. “We just realized we could make the show about anything, and we just hadn’t seen an episode of TV that covered the territory of first-generation Asian and Indian immigrants. Definitely, it was the core emotion of—number one, you don’t know much about your parents’ story, and number two, you’re incredibly ungrateful. (Laughs) That was very real for us.”
Seeing the nominations roll in, Yang was excited by the diversity of shows and ideas represented, and the ever-growing recognition of series emerging through streaming platforms. “We had a phone call with Netflix about Season 2 this week, and they had some very thoughtful ideas, but also were very supportive. They’ve given us a lot of freedom to explore what we want to explore, and do an episode that takes place over the course of a year, or an episode that’s mostly flashbacks to 1950s India and Taiwan. And all of these things that we fought for, but didn’t have to fight hard for,” he says. “That’s one reason you’re seeing these really, really unique shows that seem relatively unfettered by network interference.”
Christopher Lloyd, EP, Modern Family
“It feels great, to be honest with you. I hate having people who ask me, ‘Is it old hat?’ because it’s really the opposite of that. We feel that it’s harder and harder to make the grade every year, in part because it’s hard to keep the quality of the show up, but also because there are people who really feel almost an obligation to spread the love and pick new shows for nominations. When we still are able to achieve it, we feel like, OK, that’s great, and it’s truly the best comedy nomination to be shared by everyone. We have a very close-knit group—the actors all like each other; we have writers who have been together from the beginning. Everybody is a team, and a long-standing team, and for us to achieve it one more time makes us very proud. We feel like we did our jobs. I think people sometimes sort of feel like, ‘This show is past its prime because I hear it’s past its prime,’ or that type of syndrome, and I just would say, let’s encourage people to really look at the submitted episodes, because I feel very proud of our whole season, but I think that the six that we will submit are as good as any that we’ve ever submitted, and I hope that people give that a fair shake.”
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Accepting his second consecutive nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Netflix’s Bloodline— nominated, once again, alongside black sheep brother Ben Mendelsohn—Kyle Chandler expressed his appreciation of the TV Academy’s recognition. “I’m really proud, and just ecstatic that everyone that makes up Bloodline is getting the recognition. It’s sort of like a team sport…It’s a wonderful feeling,” Chandler says. “The writers are great, man. The Kesslers and Daniel Zelman, they just did a great job and gave us the opportunity to play some really meaty, creative material. There’s just so many things you want to say when these Emmys come up, because it’s all about the crew, and the writers, and the editors, and this and that. I’m just the fortunate bum that got the award (nomination)—my main thing is to say thanks to all of them, because it’s a team effort.”
Looking at his performance, Chandler can’t speak to his defining episode of the season, crediting the series’ highly creative editors with molding the final product, while acknowledging the opportunity granted by the showrunners to play the scene in a number of different ways, in a process which leaves the all-star cast hard pressed to figure out what will make the final cut. Speaking to the recently announced Season 3 renewal of Bloodline, Chandler laughs: “It’s been a pretty good week.” Per the actor, production is slated to recommence on October 5.
Lead Actress, Drama Series
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
It’s really cool for us. It feels like a very communal recognition for the show, because it’s such a communal job. I know everybody says that, but I really couldn’t do it without the team that’s behind it, and behind every character we create on the show. To get to be in the same category as Robyn Wright is insane and a huge honor. I’m dumbfounded and I don’t know what to say that would be eloquent or clever. It’s just very exciting. The show is an enormous gift. I couldn’t have ever imagined a job that was more creatively stimulating. It’s a total dream job in the most extreme way. I’ve always loved characters and I’d never had the opportunity to play them. And now I get to play a whole bunch in this one show, and the audience lets us go on these arch character journeys because they believe in the characters. It’s a total dream. I feel like I’ve discovered that there can be no limits; you can’t place limits on your creativity. Whether you play one character or multiple, there’s no limit to the nuance you can create. [In the final season] I guess that we’ll be getting into questions we’ve been asking since Season 1. But I don’t really know. I got a chance to sit in on one of the earliest days in the writers’ room this season, which was really cool and inspiring, and gave me a sense of where things were heading. But I don’t know what the specifics are so for me it’s as much of a mystery as it is to audiences right now. I think it’s going I think it’s definitely going to be a strong end, wrapping up these characters’ stories and moving towards some kind of resolution and closure.
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
Aziz Ansari, Master of None
First time Emmy nominee Aziz Ansari is looking forward to reuniting with his team come awards night. “I’m really happy the show got nominated and all of us will get to spend time together and enjoy that night. I hope we win but I’ll just be happy to see the rest of the cast. It’s a fun way to celebrate the work we did.. It’s nice that the series got acknowledged.” He received nominations in three categories, including an outstanding lead actor for his portray of Dev. “A turning point [for his character] was where he’s contemplating what it means to be in a relationship at this stage of your life where the person you’re with might be the person you end up with forever and trying to figure out if you’re ready for that.” Ansari remained tight-lipped on the storyline for season 2 but shared that he will be directing in more episodes. “I enjoyed how no one really knew what we were up to in season one… I want to save that experience for season two.”
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Tony Hale, Veep
Receiving his fourth consecutive Emmy nomination for his work on Veep, and winning the Outstanding Supporting Actor award twice since 2013, Tony Hale easily recalls his favorite moment of Season 5. “In terms of gratification, it was the moment where Gary could finally let loose on the other staff members in the final episode,” he says. “That was kind of five years in the making. Gary loves Selina, but he sees these morons not doing their jobs, treating her awfully, talking about her behind her back — and they’re messing with the Queen! He spends most of his time being emasculated (laughs), so it was good to let out some anger.”
With the Season 5 finale airing just weeks ago, the Veep writers are already hard at work on Season 6, Hale reports. “I’m so eager to hear what they come up with, because obviously [Selina] lost the election, and now, who knows what they’re going to come up with?”
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Andre Braugher received his third Emmy nom for the role as Captain Ray Holt on Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. “I have to say I’m really in love with this crazy little show. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on any show that has gone to a fourth year so I’m especially grateful that my work has been individually recognized… I think in a certain way, my nomination is an affirmation that we have something really terrific on our hands.”
He spoke on television’s growing slate of diverse programming. “Television is very diverse these days. Finally it seems like television is responding to the demands of the audience for materials that excite their imagination. Just when I look at our category and the comedies that are being put on the air… I think we’re dealing with subject matter that satisfies the audience more. I’m heartened by this new direction.”
Mat Walsh, Veep
On the morning of his first Emmy nomination, for his role as beleaguered press secretary Mike McLintock on HBO’s Veep, Matt Walsh is giddy. “I’m so proud of everyone on our show getting recognized — and it’s insane, the amount of honors. We got 17 nominations, which is crazy,” Walsh said. “Over the moon, I think I’d call it.
As with the rest of the cast, Julia Louis-Dreyfus excluded, Walsh was ambivalent about the showrunner swap in Season 5, with Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm producer David Mandel —an American — stepping in for Armando Iannucci’s team of Brits. The challenge of replicating the tone of the acclaimed series was real, and the stakes were high. But when Walsh screened the first episode of the new season, his concerns were assuaged. “[Mandel] inherited a bit of a puzzle — the cliffhanger of Season 4 with the tie in the electoral college, that’s a huge knot to untie. And they did it splendidly,” Walsh says. “They used it — which I loved — they used it for a whole season. They didn’t just give you the highlights. They dug in deep and did their constitutional homework and had lots of trips to D.C. So they were loving the complication of it, but also obviously they delivered the comedy.”
Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
An intense, often threatening presence within the world of House of Cards, Michael Kelly got physical with Doug Stamper in Season 4, nabbing a second consecutive nomination. Looking back on the season, Kelly’s defining scene isn’t so hard to pin down.
“That scene that I had with Derek Cecil, who plays Seth Grayson, with the whole cup-over-the-mouth thing, that was challenging, both leading up to it and physically filming it,” Kelly says. “Leading up to it was a real challenge because the two of us really didn’t see eye-to-eye on what happened there. And then the actual filming of it, going from zero to 60 in the way that I played the scene … going from lying, and being one way, to completely changing and doing a 180. … I found it to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.”
Reflecting on the departure of showrunner Beau Willimon following Season 4 led Kelly to a more somber place, emoting piercing vulnerability — the flip side of Stamper’s coin. “When I found out, I’ll be honest — I cried,” Kelly admits. “I was talking to him on the phone; I just couldn’t believe it, because he was such an integral part of both creating that character with me, and then also personally, as a friend.
“He’s someone that I admire more than most people in the world, family excluded. So it will be different—there’s not many people that match the intensity that he carried. He’ll be missed.”
With Willimon out, Kelly took on his first day of production on Season 5 on Monday. “I worked every scene, all day long. It’s so good to get back in there — kick the rust off. But as far as the way the show goes, I’ll end up in a ditch with Rachel if I talk about that,” he laughs.
Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie
Lili Taylor, American Crime
Receiving her first Emmy nod since 2002’s Six Feet Under this morning, American Crime star Lili Taylor is already plotting her return to the anthology series for a third season. “We’re almost done with the deal—hopefully by the end of today, I’m hoping we can seal it and I can start getting to work on this,” Taylor says. Working on the anthology series over the past two seasons has been a joy for the actress, reminiscent of her days in theater companies. “I love collaboration, and this anthology thing, I think it makes perfect sense for everybody—for the actors, creators, directors, writers, and the audience,” she says, “because everything’s just a lot deeper. I think it’s a win-win.” Speaking to her personal highlight from Season 2, Taylor pinpointed a climactic diner scene from episode seven. “I think because that was John’s episode, that scene was done with one camera—it was like a six-minute scene,” she recalls. “It felt like the epitome of John, in that we were all collaborating together, all firing at 120 cylinders and giving it our all. And that sums up what the show is like for me.”
Outstanding Lead Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie
Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager
That The Night Manager has been selected by the Television Academy for 12 Emmy nominations is a source of huge pride. I loved making The Night Manager. I loved playing The Night Manager. Jonathan Pine was a fascinating character at the center of an immaculately plotted, morally complex, and deeply romantic espionage thriller. I am absolutely delighted to see that Susanne Bier, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, David Farr, Jina Jay, Simon Cornwell, Stephen Cornwell and Stephen Garrett have been nominated for Emmy Awards. The Night Manager could not have been made without them. It was a huge team effort. This is my first ever Emmy nomination. It’s a huge honor and I’m very proud. I’m indebted to everyone who helped me along the way.
Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Constance Zimmer, UnReal
Looking back on the first season of Lifetime’s runaway hit drama UnReal, which takes a terrifying behind-the-scenes look at the production of a fictional reality dating series, actress Constance Zimmer found great challenge in determining which episode to submit for Emmys consideration. “It’s hard because Quinn, in every episode, has so much that’s going on at all times,” she says. “What we submitted was something that was trying to encapsulate one of her very long monologues—because Quinn does talk a lot—but something that would try to show that she has vulnerability, that she has anger, that she has an unfiltered honesty, and that she has a passion for doing something that is not necessarily good, in the ways that she’s doing it.”
For Zimmer, the experience of shooting the series has been as overwhelming as the critical response. “It’s brutal—it’s super emotionally draining. Sometimes, though, you don’t feel it until we’re done,” Zimmer relays. “We wrapped three weeks ago—I went home, because we shoot in Vancouver, and the first morning I woke up, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I woke up in kind of a daze, like, what just happened?” The sheer emotional intensity of the series aside, one of the more challenging aspects of the series, for Zimmer, has been its meta aspect; working on a film set within a film set proved logistically puzzling and a bit baffling for the actors involved. “The first season was very confusing—I didn’t know who was the real crew and who was the fake crew, and who were the extra. There were lights in the shot—they’d call action and I’d say, “No!” because there’s a light in the shot!” she says. “You’d think going into the second season we’d be more aware of that, but the thing is, we get new background actors; we get new crew. So we were right back where we started. I was still asking people for something—like, ‘Can you fix my mic?’, and he’s like, ‘I’m sorry, I’m an extra.’”
Now halfway through the airing of Season 2, and with Season 3 to come, Zimmer promises more darkness to come. “I have to tell people that they haven’t seen anything yet,” she says. “We read (episode) seven, and all of our jaws were on the floor. It was absolutely shocking and mind-blowing, the stories that we’re telling this season.”
Maura Tierney, The Affair
Examining her work in The Affair’s second season upon receiving her first Emmy nomination for the series, Maura Tierney found two or three favorite, defining moments in the arc of Helen Solloway. “I think in the first episode of the season,” she said, “when you see her having that super awkward sex with her husband’s friend, and being so very unhappy about it afterward. … I think that was a big clue that she was starting to make bad choices and not know what was going on. I thought that was really smart because there was hardly any dialogue — it’s just the visual that was sort of excruciating.”
Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
Derek Waters, EP/writer, Drunk History
In the editing suite for Season 4 of Drunk History, series co-creator Derek Waters is overwhelmed with gratitude as the series receives its third consecutive Emmy nomination. Describing an upcoming segment with Veep actor Tony Hale — another 2016 Emmy nominee — as Buster Keaton, Waters’ passion for the project is clear.
“[The nomination] means so much to me,” he says. “I feel like there’s never been a better time for history than right now, and it’s just so cool that the [TV] Academy is saying, ‘Yeah! This little idea is doing something. It just makes me feel good that what I love, other people like, too.”
Waters’ takeaway moment from the previous season was his time working with Oscar winner Octavia Spencer on an episode detailing the history of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman — “a game-changer” for the series, by all accounts. “It’s like, ‘Oh, this is bigger than a comedy show, and how the hell are we getting away with this?’” he says.
Outstanding Directing For A Limited Series, Movie Or Dramatic Special
Susanne Bier, The Night Manager
I’m very, very happy and excited. It’s my first TV show and to be nominated is just such a big deal. It’s such a gift, because you aim at doing something and you hope for it to hit the right note. So when you get nominated like that, and particularly this amount of nominations in all those categories, it just means, for all your overall efforts, that it worked. It’s utterly thrilling. The reason why this show is so successful is the source material is so fantastic. It’s also a tremendously big obligation because you don’t want to let the source material down. You do not want to let John le Carre feel his book is being let down by being made into a TV series. At all times there were nerves to live up to his amazing level. Apparently that has been a good engine to do some great work. That cast is just amazing. They’re so skilled and they’re such fantastic actors. The thing about them is that they’re wonderful dramatic actors and they all also have a wonderful sense of commitment. That balance is on that edge where it’s serious and scary and thrilling, but there’s always a sense of irony. I think that combination makes them so irresistible. And it’s for all of them. The thing is, you do think that you do them with a real sincerity and you do your absolute upmost to make them good, but you never really know. One third into editing, we screened all six episodes for a small group of people, and the reaction were quite stunning. At that point we felt, OK, we needed to get all the elements right, but we had something that really talked to the audience. I’d love to do more work in television and I’d love to do more John le Carre.
Anthony Hemingway, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Anthony Hemingway, co-executive producer of The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, received an Emmy nomination for directing the episode titled “Manna From Heaven”. The first timer said he was home cooking breakfast when he heard the news. “I was so nervous and I over salted the eggs,” he said upon finding out. “It was heart stopping… I just started balling out of excitement.”
He offered his thoughts on the Emmys and diversity. “I think they’ve done very well. One thing that I think is evident and is proven to me is that hard work prevails in the end. This is the result of that. There was a lot extremely talented artist and filmmakers involved overall in many categories. It really shows this year that the academy is recognizing that and it’s rewarding and exciting to see if continue.”
Hemingway also serves as EP on WGN’s Underground, which he was hoping would snag a nom today. “I am sad,” he lamented. “Hopefully we’ll get some attention in the future… I hold Underground up high with this nomination because it was very near and dear to my heart as well as The People v O.J.