Scene It All
Emmy contenders recall memorable episodes.
"I'm known as one of the guys that throws a lot of curveballs to other actors and improvs a hell of a lot. I'll go way over the top. Like the episode ('Seeing Other People' during Season 2), where Saracen (Zach Gilford) was losing his virginity, I was talking as (my character) Riggins on the field, telling him I have an econo-sized bucket of lube in my garage, if he wants it. Or I'll go up to Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) all the time and start whining about some STD that I have as Riggins, and that (the) cream that he gave me made it worse, and I need to go have a shower."
Jake Weber, "Medium"
"(Patricia Arquette and I did an episode called 'Second Opinion') a couple years ago where we had to put on prosthetic makeup. It took six hours to get ready for these scenes where we were supposed to be 25 years older, and one of our daughters was supposedly dying. And I show up on the set, and the woman's not wearing any of her old-age makeup. I was like, 'What happened to the whole thing with 25 years older and all this stuff?' And she was like, 'Oh, it just didn't look too good. It looked too strong. It looked too makeup-y, so I told them not to (apply) the prosthetic.' Well, how come nobody told me about this? So I ended up having to spend the whole day shooting, looking like an octogenarian, looking like Strom Thurmond. And she was all dewy-eyed like Candice Bergen with a few little crow's feet on the side of her face. I had jowls and sagging chins. Oh, I was furious at her."
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"
"(In the Season 1 episode 'Popping Cherry'), there was a dream sequence that we shot where Dexter (Hall) has returned to the scene of his first murder. In the second season, we see a flashback, but it was once again this body that we used before. And it was without question the most remarkably realistic-looking corpse we've ever worked with. I mean, if I hadn't known that it was fake, I would have sworn it was real, even with my face inches away from it. And we all recognized it when they unveiled it. I was there with the crew, and everybody had flashbacks to their initial encounter with it the season before. It was like seeing an old friend who hadn't changed a bit."
Michael Urie, "Ugly Betty"
"There was a scene (in the 'Tornado Girl' episode) -- it ended up not making it into the episode -- but at that time Marc (Urie) and Cliff (David Blue) were engaged to get married, and Marc really didn't feel right about it, because he cheated on Cliff and didn't tell him. So Betty (America Ferrera) and Amanda (Becki Newton) keep trying to get Marc to talk about it, and Marc doesn't want to. So he turns on the radio, and it's Christian radio, which Marc claims is his favorite. And what got cut out was that then Marc began to sing along with Christian radio and didn't know the words to 'Amazing Grace.' I did it a little different every time, something like 'Amazing grace is in your face.' "
Rainn Wilson, "The Office"
"I really liked the episode called 'Golden Ticket.' Steve (Carell) and I had a scene where we were walking down the sidewalk together, taking a stroll. I say, 'Guess what I'm thinking, Michael (Carell)?' And he says something. And then I say, 'No, I was thinking about how skin is the largest organ in the body.' And that was a completely improvised line. It just came out of my mouth. I knew (my character) Dwight needed to say something absurd that there was no way Michael could ever guess. And that's what I love about 'The Office' -- that we improvise off the script, and it just gets woven in."
Michael Emerson, "Lost"
"(Filming the scene with the Smoke Monster in the episode 'Dead Is Dead') was all so abstract, because there was no smoke there. We may have shot a little of it in the actual temple, but most of it was green-screened. So they'd take me to a different part of the studio, and there was just this big, open space with green canvas all around it, with little marks on it. And the director talks you through the scene: 'Now it's coming across the floor. Now it's on your left. Now it's on your right. Now it's welling up above your head and the face of it is coming right down to touch your nose.' So you do a lot of face acting, or 'schmacting' as I like to call it, and hope that it matches up with the special effects when they stick those in. It's sort of weird."
Tracy Morgan, "30 Rock"
"It was Season 3 (episode 'Believe in the Stars') that Oprah was there, and that was exciting for the show. I'd never met Ms. Oprah Winfrey. And it was just cool being there and meeting her. I mean, she reminds me of my mother. She's a woman. She didn't jump out of a cake or anything like that, you know. But it was really exciting."
Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men"
"Alan's (Cryer) completely starting to regress. I did not see that coming, by the way. As a matter of fact, (creator) Chuck (Lorre) basically leaned in as we were about to shoot the scene in the episode ('Above Exalted Cyclops'), and said, 'Just so you know, Alan's going to start losing it. Action!' What? OK. Wow. That's a big one. And what's been very fun about the writers is that they are adept at throwing curves at me. Later, in a couple episodes from now, I decide I want to be a ventriloquist for no particular reason. And I can't say that I mastered it. The hard part was animating the puppet, really getting to know the controls and the mouth and the eyes, and making him consistent. The director and the producers were directing the dummy. And I was like, 'You guys, I'm doing my best here, but I'm not a puppeteer, I'm an actor!' "