Emilia Clarke, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and 16 More Emmy-Nominated Actresses Reveal On-Set Rituals and Favorite Lines

8:00 AM 8/6/2019

by THR Staff

Amy Adams, Patricia Arquette, Rachel Brosnahan, Mandy Moore, Niecy Nash, Sandra Oh and other leading ladies open up about the unsung stars of their shows, drinking "boatloads of coffee" and why meeting fellow Emmy nominee Bruce Springsteen would be "the cherry on the cake."

Courtesy of HBO

Written by Tara Bitran, Kirsten Chuba, Sharareh Drury, Rebecca Ford, Hilary Lewis, Michael O'Connell, Lexy Perez, Rick Porter, Evan Real, Lacey Rose and Jackie Strause.

This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

  • Amy Adams

    'Sharp Objects' (HBO)

    Anne Marie Fox/HBO

    Audiences had a love-hate relationship with your character, Camille. Why do you think that is?

    She’s not the best decision-maker. She makes decisions from a very wounded place and is very impulsive. But I think she’s just looking to feel. She just wants something honest, and every mistake she makes is sourced from needing to feel honest because she’s been living a lie. That’s sort of how I came to love her — except the drunk driving. I had a real problem with that. All the other stuff she does like that's fine, I totally get it, but girl you're drinking and driving! (Laughs.

    What did you hope to convey about Camille to the audience?

    A lot of us are very wounded, and women have a different way of taking on pain and trauma and a different relationship with it, and they can be very internal. So even though she’s a very extreme case, there’s something about her depression and the way she wounds herself that I think is very relatable. I do think that’s a very common experience for women. We really internalize our pain, and it ends up being very destructive. That was more the thing I connected with. It's been really wonderful to hear how people have received Camille and how they see themselves to some degree in her, and that it's been really great for them. It’s a character I haven’t really seen before, so I was excited to get to be a part of that.

    The idea of Munchausen syndrome by proxy has seemed to have taken center stage in not only this series but also The Act. What is it about this illness that you think has made it so captivating to portray onscreen as of late? 

    What I think is amazing is how in some way the victim can be seen as complicit even though it really is not their responsibility. It was done to them. The effects of that create great trauma and it takes a long time to unravel because you almost have to live inside the lie that's created by the parent, so I think it's an interesting psychological exploration because it's so against what we know is a maternal instinct. I was really grateful I didn't have to play that character! 

    What do you hope people take away from Sharp Objects

    I always like it when conversations start. For me it's all about what each person gets from it because everybody relates to different aspects of it. I always just hope that whatever part of it that they find compelling that it's something that brings up conversation about abuse, trauma, alcohol dependency, depression, self-harm … there's so many aspects of it that are inside of the series. I, of course, want people to be entertained, and I think Jean-Marc Vallée did a great job of doing that and creating that world, but at the same time it helps people have conversations about their own experiences.

    Did you have any rituals to get into the mind-set of your character?

    I don’t really have a lot of rituals. I sort of obsessively attack the material. It was more of what we did to get out of the character that was fun. It was a lot of singing and rapping. I am the biggest karaoke nerd. Patricia Clarkson always joked, “We drank fake wine on set and real wine off set.”

    What is your go-to karaoke song?

    There isn’t one. I’ll sing anything!

    Was there anyone from your show who wasn’t recognized with an Emmy nomination that you think should have been?

    Eliza Scanlen. She’s just a beast, that’s what I call her. I thought she did such a great job with a character that could be really tricky, and it was such a mature and measured yet free performance. I can't wait to see what this girl does with her life and with her career through her choices because she's powerful. 

  • Christina Applegate

    'Dead to Me' (Netflix)

    Netflix

    What was your reaction when you heard about the nomination?

    Shocked, like wasn’t on my radar. I wasn’t watching it, my phone ringer was off, I was in bed with my daughter hanging out. Then I started getting calls and I was like, “Why are people calling so early? Why are you calling at 8:40 in the morning, who does that?”

    Why do you think people have connected so much to this show?

    I can only go by what people have said to me, I don’t get out of the house much so I don’t really hear what people have to say. I think it’s funny but it’s also so raw, and it’s unapologetic as far as how messy grieving can be. I think it’s also the representation of a female friendship that is truer to form than we’ve seen. I think all of those things combined people connected to. They can see a little bit of themselves in those women.

    There’s been a lot of conversation about how the show embraces angry women, especially through your character. Why was that important for you to play?

    I think because her rage is so raw, it’s not hysterical and it’s not what would be typically portrayed as a woman being angry. It’s guttural. And that was important to us to really go there with it because you don’t go there with it very often.

    My favorite line of dialogue from this season was …

    I enjoyed shooting the scenes where Linda [Cardellini] and I were just talking, no one’s crying, no one’s freaking out. We’re just talking, and those were the most enjoyable to shoot for sure.

    Did you have any rituals to get into the mind-set of your character?

    She’s almost like a pinball game where she gets hit from side to side and the reactions and everything have to be kind of in the moment. That’s why I think she’s kind of failing at life in a lot of ways, because she doesn’t think things through — she reacts. For me, I just had to be very in the moment to allow the scenes to unfold the way that they were because they weren’t planned reactions; they were from a really irrational place most of the time.

    The prop or costume piece I wish I could have kept was …

    Oh gosh, all those clothes were uncomfortable, so no Realtor clothes. (Laughs.) I do have a pair of sweatpants that I brought home, because her pajama game was very comfy.

    Was there anyone from your show who wasn’t recognized with an Emmy nomination that you think should have been?

    Linda for sure, and Liz [Feldman, creator]. Everybody in the show is so brilliant. I was shocked that I was a part of it because the scope of female performances has been just extraordinary.

  • Patricia Arquette

    'Escape at Dannemora' (Showtime)

    Christopher Saunders/SHOWTIME

    What was the most difficult part of the physical transformation you underwent to play this character? (Arquette gained a significant amount of weight for the role.)

    Certainly the perception people have of you and stuff like that, but just carrying that [weight] around, I feel like you become an invisible person in the world. That’s a lot of weight to gain and lose. It’s not really good for your health long-term.

    Was there any sort of music or ritual that you used to get into the character of Tilly?

    No, not really. It’s funny because Tilly’s such a musical person in a way. I felt like she was pretty depressed, and I feel like sometimes music has a way of alleviating depression or shifting it in some way. I just wanted to stay in her negative space.

    Now that this portrayal has been recognized, do you think it means you’ll be able to play more of these complicated women?

    I hope so. I mean, honestly, there’s not that many of these being written. I’m hoping that they do write more. My whole career, I’ve felt kind of like a horse being held back, because you just never got a chance to try a lot of these things.

    The prop or costume piece I wish I could have kept was …

    Her teeth and her eyeballs were very specific and kind of incredible. Wearing these giant contact lenses was really weird to act with at first because it was like I wasn’t connecting with people and then I was like, “No, it’s OK to not connect with people because Tilly has her own interior world. She’s never really completely honest with anyone.”

    Was there anyone from your show who wasn’t recognized with an Emmy nomination that you think should have been?

    Eric Lange, who played Lyle. He did such a wonderful job of shifting himself totally into this character and bringing a lot of lovable qualities to Lyle.

    Has anyone had a reaction to the show or your character that has surprised you?

    Some people have said, “Thank you so much for your work on that lady. She’s somebody I wouldn’t like in real life. She’s somebody that I wouldn’t really pay attention to, and even though I don’t agree with her, I came to care for her.”

  • Rachel Brosnahan

    'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' (Amazon)

    Courtesy of Amazon Studios

    Did you have any rituals to get into the mind-set of your character?

    I drink boatloads of coffee. Midge has more energy than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s almost inhuman. And when I’m feeling low energy, nervous or particularly vulnerable — all things Midge is not — I will stand in front of my dressing room mirror, in all my corsetage, put my hands on my hips and stand up as straight as I can. I think they call it power posing, but it just centers me.

    My favorite line of dialogue was …

    In episode two, Midge is being heckled by a group of male comedians as her time slot keeps getting pushed later and later. She addresses this idea that people, mostly men, think that women aren’t funny: “Comedy is fueled by oppression, by the lack of power by sadness and disappointment, by abandonment and humiliation. Now who the hell does that describe more than women? Judging by those standards, only women should be funny.”

    The prop or costume piece I wish I could have kept was …

    Last season, with permission, I took one of the Steiner Resort blankets. The set designers had made these incredible picnic blankets that were all over the Steiner Resort in the Catskills. You never see them up close, but they have the Steiner emblem on them. I also took a Steiner-branded paddleball, without asking permission — but they had a ton of them, so I feel like it’s OK.

    If you were personally handling the Emmy nominations, who would you pick from your show that didn’t get recognized this year?

    Michael Zegen, who plays the villainous Joel — who's not so much of a villain in the second season. It's not an easy role to play, the guy who left the main character you're supposed to love so much. His work continues to be stunning, layered and nuanced. The development of the relationship between Midge and Joel, particularly in this [third] season, has been one of my favorite parts of working on the show. Michael Zegen all the way.

  • Emilia Clarke

    'Game of Thrones' (HBO)

    Helen Sloan/HBO

    On your show, every episode could be your character’s last. How much do you know, plotwise?

    On our show, you get "the call." Or, it’d be like, "Oh, my God, [D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, our showrunners] want to take me out for dinner," and that’s the kiss of death. Literally. Every time they’d ask you out for dinner, they’d have to be like, "We’re not trying to kill you, we just want to get dinner."

    Do you pepper them with questions about where the story is headed?

    They really don’t give anything away, and I don’t like to live in anything other than the season I’m in. And they very quickly started to write for each individual actor. I think they knew that whatever kind of stoic, cold sensibilities they might be writing down, I was going to try to bring a bit more warmth and humanity to [Daenerys] where I possibly could. That was always a conversation we were having. And every season I’d do something else on hiatus, and I’d come back and be like, “What’s up, yeah, she’s going to sit like this” (slouches down in chair). And every time, they’re like, "That’s really cute, but sit up straight and don’t smile, you’re not funny." 

  • Jodie Comer

    'Killing Eve' (BBC America)

    Gareth Gatrell/BBCAmerica

    How has portraying Villanelle changed how you work as an actor?

    I feel as though I have found a little bit more freedom within myself. That is bound to a lot of the environment that you're in and the people who you're working with who create that kind of safe space for you. But with Villanelle, I had to lose my inhibitions. She doesn't care what people think. She’s eccentric, she's bold, she's flamboyant. I think I ingrained in myself this theory that to be a good actor, it has to be so small and emotional and actually, I was so wrong. As long as there is still truth in what it is that you're playing, there can be these larger-than-life moments. We meet people in day-to-day life who are these big characters and there's no reason why that can't be shown onscreen in a truthful way. 

    What’s some of the most surprising feedback you’ve gotten about Villanelle from a fan?

    A lot of people asking her to kill them is probably my most surprising. I love that people are so on her side because it’s naughty and brilliant. I love when you watch a film and you find yourself sympathizing with someone who black and white should be the villain. It says a lot to the character development and the writing, you know? That nothing is as it seems. 

    Do you have any hopes for how Villanelle continues to evolve next season? What do you think drives her?

    I think Villanelle wants her freedom more than anything, and that was tested in season one. She wants her control back. She didn't have that at all in season two. This character has traits that we all recognize and know, but she has grown a lot. I'm interested to see how the writers develop that going forward. Of course we want her up to her old tricks and unusual ways, but the kind of events of what has happened over these past years has definitely changed her in some capacity. But does a leopard ever change its spots? I don't know. 

    Was there a scene that you were most anticipating to film, or that you knew was going to be tough and you were preparing yourself for it?

    The final scene in Rome was so huge. Just trying to get the levels of emotion of, what should they be feeling? Also the scene in the AA meeting where she is Billie. The way she tries to pull the wool over people's eyes and gives them a false story and they don't believe her and she has to go back and be somewhat honest. I think people are questioning, is that Villanelle? Is that how she feels? It's like the mask slips for a second, or does it? This woman who is so convincing at fooling people. I felt within that moment there was a level of truth that came through Villanelle, but then it was also playing that through the character of Billie. I remember that being a big moment for me to try and get the balance right. That was probably my biggest moment emotionally.

    Who are you looking forward to meeting at the Emmys?

    Bruce Springsteen got nominated for his wonderful documentary of his Broadway show, so I’m hoping that he is attending. Because honestly, if I met Bruce Springsteen, I would probably die. But that’s a chance I’m willing to take.

    Have you been a longtime fan of his?

    Oh yeah! My dad brought me up on his music. All my family has been to see him like six times. I feel like if I could meet Bruce Springsteen, for the Comers, that would be the cherry on the cake for sure. 

    You’ve got to ask the music supervisor for Killing Eve to put a Springsteen song in. 

    I wish. But no. I don't know whether it would fit in the theme of things, but I mean, why the hell not?

  • Aunjanue Ellis

    'When They See Us' (Netflix)

    Courtesy of Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

    How did you prepare for your role as Sharon Salaam, mother of accused teen Yusef?

    We actually shot in the building that Ms. Salaam lives in now, so she would come downstairs and be sitting in the chair quietly while we were shooting. She and I had one of the most significant conversations that I have ever had with anybody in my life. Ms. Salaam to me is an American hero. She's from Alabama and she sort of came from this background of community organizing. So, she sort of had that in her DNA, so for her son she sort of reverted back to all that stuff that was muscle memory, organizing around what had happened to these kids. Her experience is so different, and I think that's what people respond to in her character, not necessarily me, because she was such a particular kind of advocate for Yusef because she had that background.  

    The way she coped was through activism and action. Do you feel like you would've coped with it in the same way had you been in her position? 

    I had that in my family background as well, organizing. I come from Mississippi, and it's still so entrenched in Confederate philosophy. This is something that is not foreign to me. She was speaking to me really personally, so I was so affected by her. I remember where I was sitting when I was on the phone with her and my elbows were touching the couch. I said to her, "Ms. Salaam, so much is said about when these things happen to people that there's this expectation that at some point you have to forgive. How do you feel about that?" And she said, "I can't do that." She still lives with this every day of her life, and I mean the woman still lives in the same building and neighborhood where her son was taken from her, and so she said to me, "For me to do that would mean that I would have to forget it and I would have to cut that memory from my brain." What a burden that is for someone to live with 30 years later, but that's what's so amazing about her is just the truth that she walks in, and Yusef, and how beautiful they are in what they give to the world just by how they saw their situation, how they used their situation to not just be something that happened to them but how they can use that to help somebody else.  

    How did you decompress after filming such heavy scenes?

    I have sort of a different point of view about this kind of stuff. I don't have to because I leave it at work. I got a paycheck for doing something that I believed in my soul so I didn’t really do anything. This wasn't hard for me to do. I felt like it was an honor. It was a privilege to be entrusted with these families' stories, and all I wanted to do was do right by them, and I think everybody who worked on that all felt the same way. It was thrilling for me. I didn't need to decompress because it was a joy to have that opportunity to do that for them. 

    What have you learned the most from this role?

    When these stories are told, I have to keep in mind that they're fictionalized accounts about what happened to these real people, and so at a certain point there was Ms. Salaam where she ended and where I had to begin as an actor to portray her effectively. She had to be an advocate for him, so she couldn’t afford to collapse in her bed and cry every day. So, for me as an actor I had to think in those same lines strategically. How do I place my emotions effectively to reflect what Ms. Salaam was going through, and how could I convey that onscreen so somebody will understand what I'm going through emotionally? 

    What do you hope people take away from When They See Us

    I'm hoping that this conversation about what happened to these young men and children will expand in the city of New York because the settlement that they got, they can't give those young men their lives back. And what happened to them has happened to so many young men and women across the country. So we are talking a lot about criminal justice reform, prison reform, but what Ava's film has done is sort of impacted that talk into action to actually be achieved. 

    My favorite line of dialogue was …

    It was the scene where I visit Yusef in prison and I say to him, “They hate your beauty.” It was one of the lines that Ava wrote and it’s something that all black families want to say to their children before they go out into the world. We have to take care of each other. I felt that line, and I feel it even now.

    Did you have any rituals to get into the mind-set of your character?

    I listened to Aretha Franklin. And when I put my wig on, I felt like I had arrived.

  • Joey King

    'The Act' (Hulu)

    Courtesy of Hulu

    What has been the most unexpected response to your performance on the series?

    People on the street will say, "Do Gypsy’s voice." And I’m always like, "No!" That was the weirdest response to the show itself — meeting people who were just so bold to ask that. What was crazy about that voice, specifically, is that once I finished filming and got back home, I had to do ADR voice work even months after. I remember my final ADR session for the finale was really emotional for me — putting that character to bed and knowing that was the last time I was ever going to be embodying Gypsy.

    From shaving your head to wearing false teeth, how did you approach the physical transformation required for this role?

    Every actress dreams of being able to transform themselves like that. I remember, though, the first time I got asked to do the role, there was a pause for me when I was told that I needed to shave my head. It was a big decision for me to shave my head because it was the third time I’d be doing it for a project. But I would have done absolutely anything to be a part of this show. I’m happy that I did [shave my head] because it was a very small sacrifice for a part that has been life-changing.

    How would you decompress after a heavy day on set?

    Hanging out with a jar of peanut butter and Good & Plentys — which I know sounds like a gross combo, but it’s really good — while watching HGTV.

    What do you think you would say to Gypsy if you ever got to meet her?

    That I respect her story and I wanted to do right by her. This show, of course, took some creative liberties, but it was really a journey about exposing a truth of what this poor young girl went through. I hope she understands that's what we were trying to do. 

    How does it feel to be nominated alongside your co-star Patricia Arquette in the same category but for a different project?

    I am so excited! She was the first person I called after the noms came out. I was crying and she had just woken up and hadn't seen the nominations yet. She asked, "Why are you crying? Did you get nominated?" And I said, "We both did!" It feels great to be nominated in such an amazing category with the most incredible actresses, especially Patricia. I'm almost in disbelief. I can't believe how lucky I am, and I can't wait to be there with her the night of.

    If you were personally handling the Emmy nominations, who would you pick from your show that didn't get recognized this year?

    Calum Worthy, 100 percent. Not only is he the kindest, most genuine soul that's ever walked the planet, but he brought such heart to this killer [Gypsy's boyfriend, Nick Godejohn]. I got lost in his performances. He was unbelievable, and I really wish he had been nominated. He brought honesty and unapologetic truth to this person. Nick was struggling with autism and all these things that people didn't get to see when this story first broke. Watching Calum slip right into Nick, it was haunting. I can't wait to see what he does after this.

  • Laura Linney

    'Ozark' (Netflix)

    Courtesy of Netflix

    How did working on season two compare to doing the first season?

    When you have a great foundation that’s laid, then you can really sink in. It makes everybody a little braver and a little more trusting of each other and the material. We realized the characters work, the narrative works, the story works, the writing works, we work well together. It just gives you a little more permission and more courage.

    How have you seen your character, Wendy, evolve over the two seasons?

    A lot happens to her, and while she doesn’t necessarily feel safe, she becomes braver and starts to act on her own primal instincts more than she has been. I think she was trying to be someone who she wasn’t for a long time and now she’s really coming back to who she is. What have you learned about money laundering from doing this show? To be honest, it’s all still a little confusing to me. But I certainly look at all-cash businesses in a different way now, I really do. I walk in and I’m like, “Oh. All cash, huh?” It makes me raise an eyebrow.

    Ozark landed nine Emmy noms, what was your reaction to that?

    It’s wonderful for everyone and for our show. The drama series one is the one I think we’re all proudest of because it’s a reflection not just on us, but on our crew and everyone. So many people work so hard and everything has to be aligned correctly. It’s just nice that it all worked out that way.

    What was your favorite scene or line of dialogue from this season?

    I loved the whole kidnapping episode, I loved working with Michael Mosley, all of that stuff. And whenever Wendy’s just lying through her teeth it’s always fun.

    Doing this show, what have you learned about money laundering?

    To be honest it’s all still a little confusing to me. But I certainly look at all-cash businesses in a different way now, I really do. I walk in and I’m like “Oh, all cash, huh?” It makes me raise an eyebrow.

    If you were personally handling the Emmys nominations, who would you pick from your show that didn’t get recognized this year?

    Harris Yulin, he’s just a great actor and he’s great in our show.

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus

    'Veep' (HBO)

    Courtesy of HBO

    How do you feel about the way the final season was received?

    I was happy that people were pleased, because I was pleased with it. (Laughs.) I felt we nailed all of the characters, in terms of finishing off arcs. I really feel as if everybody got their due, one way or another. It felt correct.

    You asked Tom Hanks if you could kill him off in the finale. Did he tell you what he thought of the episode?

    He was the first person I heard from after the episode aired. He was thrilled — and kind of heartbroken, actually. That’s the impression I got.

    It was quite sad. Were you bummed filming it?

    I was devastated in a satisfying kind of way. It was a challenge to keep my shit together the whole week — and, frankly, I didn’t. The timing felt right, and I’m glad we ended it when we did, but saying goodbye to it was pretty heartbreaking.

    Are you considering another TV role after Veep, given the run you’ve had?

    I’m approaching my next step very carefully. I’m not entirely sure. I’m weighing a bunch of options, and I want to take my time. I need to cool my jets for a minute and be hyper-thoughtful about whatever the next move is going to be.

  • Natasha Lyonne

    'Russian Doll' (Netflix)

    Courtesy of Netflix

    You just wrapped Orange Is the New Black. When reflecting on these last seven or so years, how does it feel to be recognized for Russian Doll, which is such a personal project?

    It’s deeply life-affirming stuff. I have no kids or family to speak of, so I have really gone all-in for a life in the arts. To not only be nominated for acting but also for writing and creating that show — it was such a beast. It was the hardest I’ve worked in my life on every level, and it’s the most of myself I’ve put into anything on every level. Everything I’ve ever catalogued in my life is sort of in that show. It’s a relief that it all had a place to go. And then to have it received so positively is very encouraging to keep on that train. 

    Were you surprised at the viral reaction over the way you say “cockroach”? (Her character says “cock-a-roach.”)

    If I’m being honest, I don’t think I knew that I was saying it funny. New Yorkers — isn’t that how you say it? I watched Pacino in Scarface so much as a child that I probably just assumed that was how you say “cockroach.”

    My favorite line of dialogue was …

    There was a line I’d written in the first episode that was hotly debated: “I have the internal organs of a man twice my age.” A lot of people were saying, “Why aren’t you saying, ‘I have the internal organs of a woman twice my age?’ ” Because that’s how I talk. I feel like that’s a line that will age well as people become increasingly less gendered. And it will seem like it had an intention beyond what was just me communicating in my natural state.

    Russian Doll earned 13 nominations. Was there anyone who didn't get recognized that you wish had?

    You’re asking me who I wish got nominated? Everybody. I feel very maternal about that show. Immediately I was looking for Charlie [Barnett]’s name and Greta [Lee]’s name and Elizabeth Ashley and Chloe [Sevigny], and Marcel [Dagenais], who had done the hair and so much wigging. I feel precious about everybody who worked so hard on the show. I’ve been doing this for 35 years; there’s not an ounce of perspective that’s lost on me of just how rare this is. 

  • Mandy Moore

    'This Is Us' (NBC)

    Courtesy of NBC

    Last season viewers were able to really see how difficult it was for Rebecca after losing Jack. How did you prepare to film those heartbreaking, emotional scenes?

    It's about finding some quiet time alone. At this point, our crew is so super-respectful and understanding. Like you know all of us at any given time, just the natural trajectory of the show, we're all going to have some sort of dramatic moment. They kind of know for those particular scenes, everyone's a little quiet. People aren't laughing and goofing off as much. It's easier to get there than it is to shake it off. Once you've sort of been in that frame of mind all day it's harder to shake that off and go home. You really want to, but it's a tough place to sort of marinate for most of the day. 

    Viewers have seen Jack as this rock for the family, but do you feel as if they finally got to see this season how Rebecca was the "engine," as Jack described her, to this family?

    He is undoubtedly a superhero, but Rebecca is able to match him in that department. And I think, to speak in generalization, moms often are the unsung heroes. They do all of the work and don’t get a ton of glory, which is sort of the case here for Rebecca. She is sort of the glue to this family. I'm glad that her adult kids are starting to really think back about how she stepped up to the plate when it was called for and really rose to the occasion and has never sort of looked back.  

    What was something that you have learned about Rebecca that has surprised you?

    I think coloring in sort of the early days of Jack and Rebecca and knowing that there is a huge spot of Jack's life that was sort of untouchable. For a couple that is so in sync and just knows absolutely everything about each other and is without a doubt meant to be together, for there to be this part of his life that was so not discussed and was understood that it was to not be discussed, that was a bit of a revelation to me; that there would forever be this part of her husband that she didn't really know and he wasn't able to open up to her about. 

    Did you have any rituals to get into the mind-set of your character?

    I’m someone who just kind of sticks to myself and pops my headphones in and tries to listen to some music that will get me in the right frame of mind.

    My favorite line of dialogue was …

    In the waiting-room episode, when Rebecca is staring at the electrical sockets and she talks about them being little faces frozen. That was something that really tickled me last year because it’s so true. And now I never look at an electrical socket the same way again.

  • Niecy Nash

    'When They See Us' (Netflix)

    Courtesy of Netflix

    When They See Us received 16 Emmy nominations. That must have been an incredible morning.

    I feel like singing, "Finally it has happened to me." The sweet 16! My second time being nominated, I was at my favorite little breakfast place. Well, I was there twice. One time for the Critics' Choice Awards and one time for Emmys. I just happened to be there at the same time and found out there. So as a matter of habit, I went back to the same restaurant, except for this time they put the nominations on TV. The last time I just found out because somebody texted me. This time, everybody started looking at me saying, "Who is that black lady over there crying?" And then my mom was starting to cry. It was just a ripple effect of laughing and crying. They were like, "What's going on over there?"

    I hope you got your breakfast for free.

    I did! I did. (Laughs.) I was a lucky duck. I got my breakfast for free.

    How did Delores Wise’s story come to you?

    I found this case many years ago because of the documentary [by Ken Burns, 2012]. Then [director] Ava [DuVernay] was going to tell their story, and I was like, “You have got to be kidding me! I know these boys’ story and I have to be a part of it.” So I messaged her, and said, “I have to be a part of telling this story.” I didn’t know who I would be. I hadn’t seen the script. I didn’t know who was available to play. I just knew I wanted to be a part of it somehow. Then Ava reached out and was like, “Delores Wise is the part for you.” I agreed to it before I read it.

    Did you have any rituals to get into the mind-set of your character?

    The interesting thing is that you have to be so present because these aren’t made-up characters. These are real people who you may have the opportunity to run into walking back and forth to your dressing room and to set. So as actors, I could tell you that the minute we hit that set and looked into each other’s eyes, we knew, we knew the weight of the work and the responsibility to carry it out. It wasn’t, “Oh, let me put on a song or read a certain thing.” It was like, “Game time.”

    How did you and Jharrel Jerome, who plays your character’s son Korey Wise, create your bond?

    Well, especially by the time we got to part four, he was mine. I’d look in his face and see my own son. There was a connection on and off camera. Off camera, he had to gain weight to play the older version of Korey. And I’d go, “Well, did you eat today? Have you got everything you need? You need to go lay down?” All the things you would say as a mother. So he just believed me on and off set. Period. That’s what it is. And that’s what it will be.

    My favorite line of dialogue was …

    When I go to visit [Korey] in part four, and, in this particular scene, he wants a kind touch. He has been through so much abuse and he knows that if he reaches across and touches her what he's gonna get, but he risks it all for that one moment. To touch his mother. And she says, “They can’t break you, Korey. They can’t break you.”

  • Sandra Oh

    'Killing Eve' (BBC America)

    Gareth Gatrell/BBCAmerica

    Did you have any rituals to get into the mind-set of your character?

    It’s just too long of an explanation! (Laughs.) I have a tremendously personal and deep preparation around this character. I feel like I'm in it right now. 

    My favorite line of dialogue was …

    It’s not a line, but I have a favorite scene. It’s in episode seven of our second season. Eve goes to talk to an expert in psychopaths [played by Adeel Akhtar], and he turns it around and starts asking her questions about herself. My favorite line is definitely in there somewhere.

    The prop or costume piece I wish I could have kept was …

    Oh, this is actually an interesting lost-in-translation situation with the English! My green purse is very essential to me. And now it’s gone, because of the end of the season. I made a request for it, but a purse here [the U.K.] is your wallet. So I got this thing in the mail, and I was just like, “Why do I have Eve’s wallet?” They call purses handbags! So I need to go back and sort this out. I feel a kinship with that handbag.

    Was there anyone from your show who wasn’t recognized with an Emmy nom that you think should have been?

    Damon Thomas! He’s one of our executive producers, but he's also the supervising director. He has been so elemental in the direction of the show for the past two seasons. I was quite heartbroken that he wasn't recognized. For me, he's just so important. 

  • Catherine O'Hara

    'Schitt's Creek' (Pop TV)

    Courtesy of Netflix

    You’ve worked with Eugene Levy numerous times. How have you two built your working relationship over the years?

    We seem to work in a similar way — we take our comedy very seriously. I always know in any discussion about any detail about the work. It is always about the work. He’s not bringing any other kind of bull into it.

    You recently wrapped filming the final season — how did that feel?

    The last table reads were the most emotional. [The read for the series finale] was at lunch hour, and I had to go back to shooting. And if you’ve seen the show, you know how much eye makeup I wear — the makeup artists were calling me Alice Cooper after that.

  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge

    'Fleabag' (Amazon)

    Courtesy of Amazon Studios

    Was there a certain scene that was most difficult for you as an actress?

    The confession scene in episode four, because so much of the character is about her quick-wittedness and the front that she puts on. [Director] Harry [Bradbeer] wanted me to go so much further with it than I had originally envisioned. And I was pretty sure that that’s not where the character needed to go. Harry was like, “Sometimes you have to admit that some of us know your show better than you.”

    The prop or costume piece I wish I could have kept was …

    There were a couple of the Sexy Jesus paintings. But the one that was most precious to me was the sculpture of the mother. And the producers actually put it onto a little stand for me, and so I’ve got her safe and naked and tucked up at home.

    My favorite line of dialogue from this season was …

    “I love you." "It'll pass."

    Who of your cast would fare best in a presidential debate?

    Probably Godmother [Olivia Colman] because I think she’d be able to say about three different things in a single sentence and decimate two people and elevate another one in a single sentence. She’d probably end up being voted in.

  • Michelle Williams

    'Fosse/Verdon' (FX)

    FX

    What was it like having Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon’s daughter, Nicole Fosse, often on set?

    At first it’s really intimidating because she’s going to be able to spot the fake. But she’s a very evolved woman, so she was able to be supportive and helpful and instructive and nonjudgmental. We would talk a lot about where Gwen would put emphasis on words and that she would often choose the nonoperative words, the nonobvious words, to emphasize. So, instead of it being how we would all say Broadway, she would say Broadway. That was a real linchpin.

    Why do you think Bob and Gwen had such a symbiotic relationship? How did you and Sam Rockwell work together to craft that magnetic pull between you two?

    I feel like it has something to do with both of their early abuse history. It created an understanding between the two of them that went beyond words. I thought of them as twin souls, yin and yang, light and dark. They both had these traumatic early experiences and as a result, Bob wanted to go further and further into them and investigate them and examine them, and Gwen wanted to rise up, up, up and away from them. They had these similar experiences, but they dealt with it in different ways.

    On our Drama Actress Roundtable, you said how musical theater brings you such a blissful feeling of joy. Was there a particular moment shooting a musical number in the series where you felt that way?

    Our first one, the first number that we did was "Who's Got the Pain?" [from Damn Yankees]. The day and night that we shot that, I'm gonna see it at the end. Like when my life flashes before my eyes, I'm gonna see that night. I was very happy.

    Did you have any rituals on set to help you get into the mindset of Gwen while shooting? Play any music or listen to her old showtunes, maybe?

    Oh my gosh, so many things. When Sam and I weren't acting, we were always preparing or researching or conjuring. I mean, I was listening to something, watching something, doing something, improvising something. There were no breaks in the day. There was never a moment when we weren't working on our characters.

    What are some of the things that you watched or listened to?

    There were a few interviews with Gwen, you know, because she aged. Everything about her aged. Her body, how she held herself, her voice, how she articulated. There were these touchstones for all of the ages. There was an interview she did when she was in her 30s that was really integral for me, and then one in her 40s and then one in her 50s and then one in her 60s. So, I would sort of float all over these reference videos depending on what we were shooting that day.

    When you were reading the scripts, was there a scene you were so eager to get to and shoot?

    It's equal parts eagerness and dread because it's so hard. You look at this and you're just like, "Man, OK." The only way is forward and there's nothing to do but just keep my head down and work. It's so much material. It's like making eight movies. You make a movie, and there are like three hard scenes that you are anticipating. This felt like everything was hard because there was aging and there were prosthetics and there was body language and singing and dancing and all this stuff. There were so many challenges littered everywhere. But that of course is what I live for. It's what I've worked for, to be given the opportunity to challenge myself. So, I'm very grateful for it, but you just feel like you're standing at the base of a mountain looking up at it every single day, thinking, "How am I gonna get there?"

    The prop or costume piece I wish I could have kept was …

    I just adore the [costume] designer Melissa Toth, with whom I've worked three or four times now. She has such a strong emotional feeling about the clothes, so every single thing that I put on, I was like, "Yup. This is it. This is it. This is it." Like how it felt good to talk like her, the sound felt really fun to play with, the same thing went for the costumes. It felt good to dress like her. These crazy things, like her safari suits. I really liked in episode seven when we had MC Gwen and we had the exploding cane, things that have tricks and a top hat that pops out. And her caftans, her pajamas. I loved her. I miss her. I feel like she’s a friend of mine and it’s been too long since I’ve seen her.

    This series obviously ended with Bob's death and is a limited series, but are there any other showbiz couples that fuel each other creatively and personally that you think would be fascinating to explore?

    I wanna play her again! I became very close to the girls that did my hair and makeup, and I was talking to them this morning. And we were saying, "Oh, we wish we could just do this job again. Like, can we do Gwen post-Bob? Gwen at 65? Her life without him?" She was such a showwoman, and I love that she sort of did these one-woman shows and appearances later in life. She has her complications and her feelings and her blind spots, but there was this inherent goodness in her. Everybody who knew her, when they would talk about her, they'd say that she was just the most generous woman. Gwen did this for me or Gwen held my hand or Gwen bought my bathtub or Gwen rescued this cat. She was a beautiful person to embody. And I would gladly put on a red wig again. I want to do this job for the rest of my life.

  • Robin Wright

    'House of Cards' (Netflix)

    Courtesy of Netflix

    What was it like saying goodbye to House of Cards?

    That was six years of our life together. So that was a long haul. It was such a great working environment, very collaborative, and we laughed so much, all of us together. I'll never forget it, but you're always ready to move on. Bittersweet, I would say it was. We all cried and hugged for hours and hours. We wrapped it up [then] hung out in the Oval Office until one in the morning with a disco ball and drinking champagne. And Michael Kelly and I were covered in blood and we didn't take the blood off.

    Was there anyone from your show who wasn’t recognized with an Emmy nom that you think should have been?

    I’d have to say all the writers who really worked their asses off. This season is a testament to what’s really going on in the administration. It’s amplified a little bit, dramatized a little bit — and Trump kept stealing all our good ideas. We would come up with ideas, and you guys didn’t see it for a year after. So we would write stuff and then Trump would do it six months later and we were like, “Now it’s not going to be original.”

    Who amongst your cast would be best to run for office?

    Claire Underwood! She’s got to be it, right?

    Who would be your VP?

    Well, I would have to say from the character's point of view, I would choose Michael Kelly because he is forever devoted to the family and can keep a secret better than anybody.

    The prop or costume piece I wish I could have kept was …

    I really regret not grabbing her [Claire Underwood’s] shoe collection.

    My favorite line of dialogue from this season was …

    Claire’s direct address — "Just to be clear, it’s not that I haven’t always known you were there. It’s that I have mixed feelings about you. I question your intentions and I’m ambivalent about attention. But don’t take it personally. It’s how I feel about most everybody."