Emmys: 5 Nominated Directors Open Up About Their Shows

10:44 AM 8/17/2018

by THR staff

The directors behind five nominated series, including 'Stranger Things' and 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,' address tackling high expectations from audience members and delivering impactful moments for the screen.

Courtesy of Amazon Studios; Courtesy of Netflix

For directors, each TV project comes with its own set of challenges, and for the nominated filmmakers for this year's Emmys, those obstacles were met with conviction.

With the Emmy Awards just around the corner, five Emmy-nominated directors open up about living up to their shows' existing momentum, pleasing dedicated fans of the series, the most impactful moments onscreen and fighting for their creative visions. Also, Big Bang Theory's director breaks down his surprise reaction after learning about his slightly delayed Emmy nomination.


  • Shawn Levy

    'Stranger Things'

    Courtesy of Netflix

    Few streaming shows have returned for a second season with as much fanfare as Stranger Things. Though Netflix famously keeps audience figures under wraps, the first season became a cultural phenomenon after it landed in July 2016, earning late-night spoofs as well as five Emmys and making social media stars out of its actors (even one whose character died in 
the third episode). And the second season built on its predecessor's momentum. One analytics firm named Stranger Things 2 the most popular show in the country, while the series' six Emmy nominations have helped make Netflix this year's most-nominated outlet.

    THR spoke with executive producer and director Shawn Levy about how his team delivered on high expectations for the show and his favorite moment from its sophomore season.

    Read Levy's full interview here

  • Alan Taylor and Jeremy Podesw

    'Game of Thrones'

    Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO

    Don't call it a comeback: After being ineligible to compete at the 2017 Emmy Awards due to its seventh season's later-than-usual summer debut, HBO's Game of Thrones again finds itself in the thick of awards season with 22 nominations ­— the most for any single show at the 2018 Emmys. The pricey HBO fantasy drama, which will wrap in 2019, covered 
a ton of ground in its seventh season, from reuniting many of the Stark siblings to staging massive, bloody battles (fire-breathing dragons included) and one budding romance that has some, um, incest issues.

    Creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss eschew most awards press, so directors Alan Taylor and Jeremy Podeswa, both nominated for their work this season, spoke to THR about some of its most impactful moments.

    Read Taylor and Podeswa's full interview here.  

  • Amy Sherman-Palladino

    'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel'

    Courtesy of Amazon Studios

    After it premiered in November, 
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel swiftly became a critical darling thanks to its quick-witted protagonist Midge (Rachel Brosnahan), 
a 1950s housewife who pursues 
a career in stand-up after her husband abruptly leaves her. The show scooped up Golden Globes for comedy series and lead actress in January, and Amazon — which originally ordered two seasons from Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino (who executive produces and writes with her husband, Dan Palladino) — renewed it for a third in May.

    Now deep into writing and shooting their sophomore season, which includes some Midge misadventures in Paris, the pair spoke to THR about finding the perfect lead actress, what to expect in season two and who they hope to run into on Emmy night.

    Read Sherman-Palladino's full interview here. 

  • Ramin Bahrani

    'Fahrenheit 451'

    Ray Bradbury's 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 is set in a distant future where all books are verboten and troops of firemen keep the peace by burning literature on sight. Writer-director Ramin Bahrani's 2018 HBO film rebooted this grim allegory with Michael B. Jordan cast as Guy Montag, a fireman who slowly begins to question the system, and Michael Shannon as the ironfisted Captain Beatty, who struggles to keep his young protege in line.

    Adapting a beloved classic comes with its own unique set of challenges, including the danger of angering fans of the book. Bahrani made several changes, such as setting his adaptation in an alternate version of the 2018 present, rather than Bradbury's distant future. There are no flying cars, high-tech houses or other similar sci-fi tropes. There is, however, Yuxie, an omnipresent Alexa-like virtual assistant that monitors all.

    Read Bahrani's full interview here. 

  • Judd Apatow

    'Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling'

    Larry Watson/HBO

    The past few years, I have taken a break from writing fictional comedic films and have focused more on making documentaries. After co-directing two films with Michael Bonfiglio — one about Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden for ESPN's 30 for 30 
and another about the band The Avett Brothers called May It Last — I spent the past two years directing a film about my friend and mentor Garry Shandling for HBO.

    These are the pros and cons of directing documentaries as opposed to comedies.

  • Mark Cendrowski

    'Big Bang Theory'

    Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

    The Big Bang Theory 
helmer Mark Cendrowski received his first-ever Emmy nomination in the most unusual way: Seven hours after the nominations were announced, the TV Academy revealed he'd been left off the list because a new rule requiring that at least one multicamera director be included in the comedy category was overlooked. "It wasn't my plan to do it that way!" Cendrowski jokes.