Emmys: The Very Best of This Year's Guest Stars Sound Off About Crashing TV's Biggest Shows
From a CIA black operative to a '60s philandering housewife and a sexually aggressive female truck-driver, this year's Emmy nominees for outstanding guest stars have delivered audiences a multitude of scene-stealing performances. The talented bunch spill about fitting in when you're "the new kid in school."
Shannon Beiste, Glee (ABC)
People thought at first I was going to be really mean and tough because I went toe-to-toe with Jane [Lynch]'s character in my first episode, but by the end of that episode I was crying. To be tough and strong and yet still have all those vulnerabilities really surprised people, because it shows that it doesn't matter your size or what you look like, you don't know what somebody's going through in their private life. Matthew [Morrison] and I, I love our relationship on the show, and I like that they had me say that I was falling in love with him. In fact, that's the episode I'm nominated for this year. We just let our emotions come. [The new castmembers] are great kids. I'm a veteran of the show, of course, but those kids are there all the time. I wish I was there all the time.
Claudia, The Americans (FX)
John Landgraf [FX president] and Graham [Yost, Justified and The Americans EP] wanted me to do this. I love FX, so it was a real joy and treat for me. Showrunners Joe [Weisberg] and Joel [Fields] are the nicest men in the world. Because I wasn't in the pilot, I don't know how Matthew [Rhys] and Keri [Russell] approached their roles. I asked Joe and Joel what my [character's] background was, and they explained these KGB agents were handpicked because of their incredible perception about people. And then I asked, "What should we sound like?" And they explained that we were drilled in American accents in Russia. It wasn't an easy part for me. It was a very buttoned-up, formal part. That's a different thing than I've ever done. I was trying very hard to talk as if the way I sounded wasn't exactly innate to me, so I was trying to overpronounce things. [Working with Russell] was like working with somebody I've known all my life. She's extremely down to earth, but we both knew how to play sinister.
Bertram Cooper, Mad Men (AMC)
My phone rang at 6 in the morning, and I thought, "My house is on fire and my neighbors are calling me!" It was several people actually, calling to tell me I got nominated. I've been doing this for a while, so I don't feel like the new kid at school. I can't figure out why I'm being nominated for being a guest star, because I guess I've been a guest star for almost six years. Running around in the first season with just argyle socks and no shoes, and of course the wonderful makeup man, Ron Pipes, gives me the goatee and mustache, and the clothes that Janie [Bryant] gives me, so by the time you get through all of that, you develop an idea of how this chairman of the board walks and how he feels. At first you wonder why you're running around in argyle socks, and then you later see that you have a fetish for the Japanese way of life, and your office is completely decorated in Japanese artifacts. Everyone wants to know if I wear them when I'm not working on the show, and my answer is that the last time I wore argyle socks was when I played golf in the '50s.
Arthur Jeffries (aka Professor Proton), The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Chuck Lorre and I belong to the same country club and have been running into each other for some time. Chuck was a writer on Roseanne, and that was a few stages from ours and he'd come to our set at lunch and just sit there. He'd been after me for a while to do one of his shows, so this year he asked me what it would take. I had three requests: It has to be The Big Bang Theory, because that's the best written of all his shows; it has to be a recurring role -- three times rather than in once and out; and my scenes have to be shot in front of an audience because that's the only way I know how to do a show. I've done shows without an audience and it was so sterile; the writers don't write and actors don't act as well unless you have an audience. I don't know about the one-camera comedy shows -- I know they exist, but I don't know how you do it. There will be two more episodes next year. I have no interest in doing more than that. It's a young person's business; I had my run and it was great. I'm 84 and I still do stand-up, I'm up for the Emmy and I'm married 50 years. It doesn't get better than that.
Eileen, Enlightened (HBO)
Mike White [the series creator] and I went out for dinner one night, and he told me, "I'm writing this part for you, and you're going to play kind of a prim secretary," and I thought, "That sounds perfect!" When I read it I was just so excited, I love the way he writes. It's one thing to have him as a friend, but when he's your friend and he says that he's writing something for you, you feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Other than just being a fan of the show, I was like, "Oh my God! I can't believe that I work at Abaddon [the fictional company where Laura Dern's character works]! This is so crazy!" I felt comfortable immediately, probably because I knew so many people on the show, and they were so welcoming and so nice, I never felt like the "new kid." I love the scene with Mike [White] when we go back to his house and he asks me if I want to spend the night, and I say, "Look, I just don't want to get hurt, I don't want to deal with a jerk, or a dick." She's saying, "I like you, but I don't want this." It's my all-time favorite scene, ever, ever in my whole acting career! I just thought it was groundbreaking for me -- I love the fact that it's so real. So frequently you see the slick version in TV or movies, where people are hooking up and getting close, but this shows that intimacy can truly be scary, and that there is a time for her to get close to a few good people but she's petrified, and he's kind of scared, and it was beautiful.
Nominees not included: Bobby Cannavale, Joan Cusack, Michael J. Fox, Melissa McCarthy, Carrie Preston, Diana Rigg, Elaine Stritch, Justin Timberlake and Kristen Wiig.
Reported by Reagan Alexander, Lesley Goldberg and Rebecca Sun.