Emmys 2016: What the Nominees Are Saying

10:07 AM 7/14/2016

by THR staff

The nominees tell THR about learning of the news on Thursday morning.

Sarah Paulson Kyle Chandler Tatiana Maslany Split - H 2016
Miller Mobley/Amanda Friedman

The Television Academy announce nominees for the 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards on Thursday morning, again at the forgiving hour of 8:30 PT — not 5:30 a.m., like so many years past.

Black-ish star Anthony Anderson and once-and-future Gilmore Girls actress Lauren Graham have the honors of naming this year's nominees from the Academy's North Hollywood headquarters — and in addition to a repeat of Game of Thrones earning the most nominations, FX's The Americans finally broke through. And, in its first year of eligibility, USA breakout Mr. Robot made a strong showing.

Upon hearing the news on Thursday morning, here's what the nominees are saying.

  • Tatiana Maslany

    Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany celebrated her second nomination for best actress in a drama for her multiple-character role in the BBC America drama in Prague, where she was vacationing with friends. As it was already early evening when the nominations were announced in Prague, Maslany was surrounded by friends who "tackled" the actress when news of her nomination was announced.

    "They were super excited and tackled me to the ground, it was a big wrestle fight," the actress said. To celebrate, Maslany and company will have coffee and cake and cap the night by going to the movies. "We're going to see Central Intelligence and see The Rock kill it."

  • Sarah Paulson

    As per tradition, previous nominee Sarah Paulson did not watch the announcement. "I'm pretty good at convincing myself that it's not happening. I put my earplugs in and my phone is on vibrate," she told THR, adding that she was "dumbfounded" after learning she was a double nominee for the first time. "I did cry," she admitted. "I was on FaceTime with my sister and I started to [cry] with joy." She also reached out to her People v. O.J. Simpson co-star and fellow nominee Sterling K. Brown, who played the Chris Darden to her Marcia Clark. "I sent Sterling a text that was practically unreadable because I was so excited and writing in all caps," she said with a laugh. "Even more than happy for myself, I was over the moon for him."

    Paulson said the nomination for People v. O.J. Simpson was "particularly meaningful" for her. "For me personally, playing this part was and is and probably will be the greatest role," said Paulson, who recalled crying when filming wrapped. "The idea that I wasn't going to play her anymore — it wasn't the wig I was going to miss, it was the human being."

  • Aziz Ansari

    "We were in the writers room today and a lot of people wanted to watch the live feed so I was like, ‘Alright, whatever.’ We turned it on and it ended up being really fun because we got excited for our show but also everyone cheered when The Americans and the People v. OJ got nominated. There was a huge cheer for Courtney B. Vance,” says Ansari, who says they’re almost done writing season two with plans to start shooting in August and roll out in April. “But the win for me really was getting to make this show, which is so personal, and having people respond the way they did when it came out. Yeah, there's someone who could watch an episode of our show like the parents episode and say, ‘this is too weird' or ‘this won’t relate to a mainstream audience,’ but it’s like, ‘You know what? F— you. We got nominated for Emmys. It worked.'"

  • Kyle Chandler

    "I was going to meet my wife on my motorcycle but when I passed the end of the driveway, I realized it was garbage day and I hadn’t pulled the garbage cans out. I had to turn around and go back, and that’s when I felt the cellphone in my pocket buzzing. So I was standing out by the garbage cans when I found out. It was pretty glamorous, I have to tell you. But it’s like Christmas in the middle of the year when these things happen. The best part is that I haven’t seen the crew and cast in awhile, so when something like this happens it feels like everyone on the team is a winner. I’m going to call people and say thank you. And it worked out perfectly [on the heels of the season 3 renewal.] Two great pieces of news in one week. Now I’m probably going to go sit outside of the porch and have a little afternoon scotch and a cigar."

  • Anna Chlumsky

    Veep’s Anna Chlumsky was in the middle of her bi-weekly French class when her nomination for supporting actress in a comedy was announced. Despite it being her fourth nomination in a row for the role of Amy Brookheimer, the actress says her first thought was, “Je suis supris!"

    "This is the one year I didn’t know the day the announcements were coming out — they’re always more fun when you don’t know. I kept hearing the phone going off. The first time you’re like, whatever, and then it kept going off and of course I saw that it wasn’t a normal call. I was really surprised! There was something about the number three: Three nominations is great and I’m very lucky to even be considered so for this year, I really wasn’t expecting it. I’m going to have figure out the numerology for the number four! I'm so stoked for [first-time nominee] Matt [Walsh]! Tony [Hale], of course, but he’s got some already. You always wish your whole cast could run the gamut and there’d be enough for everyone, but I'm so stoked for Matt and Peter MacNicol — I couldn’t get enough of him and I’m thrilled people felt the same — and Martin Mull [who both earned guest actor nominations], what an incredible individual. Julia [Louis–Dreyfus] said we got 17 nominations? We’re like Hamilton! My husband and I already had a date night planned for tonight, so this will have to be the occasion. I’m super pregnant right now so champagne is going to have to wait, but we’ll celebrate with great food!”

  • David Schwimmer

    David Schwimmer was on vacation in Maine and without internet access Thursday when he got a call from his agent with news of his second career Emmy nomination for his supporting role in FX's American Crime Story: People v. O.J. Simpson. It's been 22 years since Schwimmer's first nomination — for NBC's Friends — and to hear the actor tell it, this one is even "more meaningful."

    "At the time, there was so much positive press about Friends and we were all riding that wave. This I didn't expect. ... It's even more meaningful that it's 22 years later and so much has happened in those 22 years — being part of this industry and being recognized in a meaningful way — I didn't appreciate it at the time, being such a younger man," he said of the surprise that came when he was playing bocce ball with his daughter.

    As for his stiff competition in the category where he faces co-stars John Travolta and Sterling K. Brown, Schwimmer said his bet is on the latter. "John has had a long and incredible career but I like that this is Sterling's real breakout performance," he said. "My bet is on Sterling." His celebration plans? Schwimmer was busy cooking chili and cornbread and hoped to enjoy the meal (and beer) with family by the dock later.

  • Derek Waters

    "Nominated for an Emmy?! Speechless. A big Thank you to the Academy. Drunk History was a one time idea. The fact that this show has come as far as it has is beyond me. I'm so grateful to my crew, all my friends who trusted us to film them while they're intoxicated. And a little thanks to alcohol for bringing out the truth. This gives me hope that there will be more history in the future."

  • Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos

    The documentarians heard they were nominated from their publicist. Ten seconds later, Netflix informed them the project had received not one but six nominations. "We started screaming and our dog started barking," Ricciardi told THR with a laugh. "Part of what feels so wonderful about this is the recognition of the dedication and hard work that our entire team put into it." Demos added: "This was a long, long, long process for everyone involved."

    So what's next? Talk of a sequel or season two of some sort started immediately after the project dropped on Netflix in December. "We've been exploring the idea, the prospect of doing additional episodes for a number of months now and its something that we take seriously and very interested in doing. We're going to keep exploring that option for sure," Demos said. "We're definitely talking to our subjects and people on the ground and following the events and as soon as it's official, we'll let people know."

  • Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski

    “I know we had an impact because I just got a congratulatory email from my high school drama teacher,” says Karaszewski, who adds: "I’m very happy that Scott and I got nominated in the writing category, but it gives us an incredible thrill that the other members of our writing team are up there, too, all three of our directors, our entire editing team and so many members of the cast. Scott and I are new to TV, this is the first show that we’ve ever created, and to be embraced by the community this way is really wonderful. Usually you do years and years of work and then it gets released into a big wall of gaping indifference, so to have this freaky combination of popularity and critical acclaim is just so rare in this business and it is such a treat.” Asked about plans to celebrate today, Alexander chimed in with a sigh: “The plan now is to go to the office and work on the [Patty Hearst] script that we’re past deadline on.”

  • Julian Fellowes

    "I wasn’t in any sense confident that we would be nominated in our sixth [and final] year but I’m thrilled," said the creator of the drama, which received ten nominations in its final season. "I got a text from our producer Gareth Neame, which said: '10 nominations. Hurrah.' So hurrah indeed, I say. I’ll send a message or talk to Maggie Smith because I’m delighted that she got nominated again in the last season."

    Overall, the series has received 69 nominations over its six-year run. "Now I’d love to do a [Downton] movie. I don’t need to be persuaded at all."

  • Kit Harington

    "It is a serious understatement to say that I am somewhat stunned," the actor said in a statement. "For my work on Game of Thrones to be recognized in this way is an emotional moment for me. I could not be more humbled."

  • Ryan Murphy

    “Working on The People V. O.J. Simpson has been a career highlight and its own reward, but I am especially moved by the recognition for everyone who devoted their hearts and souls to this project—from our brilliant cast to our amazing writers and directors to the extraordinary producers. We are all incredibly grateful. It’s a happy day.”

  • Maisie Williams

    "I am so grateful to be a part of Game of Thrones, so to be nominated for an Emmy is beyond words, but I would like to say thank you to George for creating such an amazing character and to Dan, David and everyone associated with the show who bring Arya to life."

  • Gareth Neame

    The period drama went out with a bang on Thursday, both literally and figuratively. Neame and his team celebrated the nominations for the sixth and final season by opening a bottle of Dom Perignon -- with a sword. "It kind of exploded across the office and soaked my upholstery," Neame told THR. "It’s a nice feeling of completeness." However, Neame was quick to point out that Downton may still return as a movie, as reported earlier this year. "We're starting to make provisional plans, but there's nothing very definite," he said. A big obstacle, Neame acknowledged, is getting the large ensemble back together. "In principal, everyone would be up for doing it," Neame said of the cast. "Hopefully it will happen.”

  • Constance Zimmer

    Zimmer, in the south of France with her family, had zero bars on her cell phone and shoddy wifi when the nominations were announced — though she was well-aware that they were coming. "My husband said, 'Nobody's calling you, so you probably didn't get a nomination,'" she told THR. "We have to find the list first! I finally saw it on Twitter, and I freaked out but I wouldn't believe it because I hadn't even talked to my agents! They got a little mad that they couldn't even get to me until 20 minutes after it came out."

    "We were all just hoping that the show was going to get something," added Zimmer. "The fact that we got two nominations, with Marti [Noxon] and Sarah [Gertrude Shapiro] for writing, it's beyond. I'm so excited for the show."

    As for how her alter ego, caustic and ruthless reality TV producer Quinn King, would handle an Emmy nomination, Zimmer said this: "I think Quinn would have popped a bottle of champagne and drank it herself. She wouldn't return any calls or reply to any texts. There'd be some sort of "I told you so, period" email that went out to everybody at the network."

  • Rami Malek

    “I couldn’t be more honored to receive this nomination. To be included among of list of actors whose work I’ve admired for years is truly humbling. I’m so grateful for the brilliant Sam Esmail who brought Elliot to life and has allowed me to play a role one could only dream of. Thank you to the cast, crew, USA Network and Universal Cable Productions. And, of course, to the Academy.”

  • Lena Headey

    "[I'm] totally overwhelmed. Thrilled for the show receiving so many nominations. Wahoo!" 

  • Sam Esmail

    “The entire team at Mr. Robot is thrilled with our nominations this morning. Today is officially shoot day 80 for season two and we couldn’t be happier to hear the news from set. We are humbled and honored to be in the company of such innovative, groundbreaking storytelling. On behalf of the cast and crew who continue to work tirelessly to make this show, as well as USA Network and Universal Cable Productions, thank you to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.”

  • Will Forte

    "I was talking to my family this morning and the Fortes are all very excited. It was my first time I've ever [watching the live stream.] I thought it was on super early in the morning and so when nobody texted me, I just figured I didn't get nominated. But then I went to the website and it ended up being really great. My agent, he called me up right after they announced it so we had a chat — but then I went for a run because I have this weight loss bet with my buddy. It's getting down to crunch time. My buddy and I really needed motivation so we said that if we don't reach a certain goal, we each have to donate $1,000 to the Trump campaign. So it's very important that I lose this weight. We just needed something that would for sure fire us up to do it, and that really has lit the fire under both of us. I have the advantage of having really fattened up last season so it's easier to lose that weight when you're grossly obese … But it was a really good run, I'll tell you that. A lot of good energy. It's been a great morning. And we're starting production in a couple weeks so we'll be spending a lot of time in the writers room banging our head against the wall trying to figure out what we're doing. But it'll be fun to be in there and hang out with the people who are the biggest part of getting me into this position to be nominated."

  • Michael Kelly

    “I’m freaking over the moon, man," Kelly told THR with a laugh. After spending several weeks vacationing with his family at the beach, Kelly says he forgot that nominations were coming. "I got a text saying, 'Best of luck, thinking of you today.” And I was like, ‘'Oh shit, the nominations are today,'" he said. "I pulled out the computer to look and then my phone was blowing up just, text, text, text, text, text and my agent Allison [Levy] called and was like, 'Yay!' And I was like, 'Are you shitting me? I can’t believe it!' It was such a wonderful wonderful surprise. I left messages for both of [Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright]. I spoke with Paul Sparks this morning."

    And as for his celebration plans? Kelly will reunite with former showrunner Beau Willimon, “I called Beau to thank say. That guy is a genius and has become a dear friend of mine. I love the man to death. And I’m going to Washington D.C. because Jeff Beal, our composer, is having this really special night at the Kennedy Center tonight where the symphony orchestra is going to play the score to House of Cards and Beau Willimon and several cast members and I are all going. So I’ll get to celebrate with those guys tonight and immediately drive back to the beach in the morning and celebrate with my wife and kids." However, Kelly is also hard at work on House of Cards' fifth season – the first without Willimon. "It felt so good to be back, man," he said. "When you’re on a show as long as I’ve been on this one, thankfully, and to get to love going to work everyday after this long is wonderful."

  • Matthew Rhys

    “In Russia, FOURTH time is apparently the charm. That and if you throw enough Borscht, something sticks. Failing that, do what I did and send Liev Schreiber to visit Emmy voters with a baseball bat.”

  • Ellie Kemper

    “I am so lucky to be able to work with the most brilliant cast and crew in television, and I am honored to be included in this group of exceptional women. I am in debt not only to the Television Academy, Netflix, and Universal, but also to Tina Fey and Robert Carlock for creating this show in the first place. And by the way, with this nomination, I've already won....a complimentary round-trip flight to Los Angeles, plus accommodations!”

  • Arthur Smith and Kent Weed

    "American Ninja Warrior is an addictive energy drink for prime-time TV — larger-than-life characters, can’t-miss moments, and stories that transcend the screen. Kent and I are extremely proud of what our show has accomplished thus far — it would have not been possible without our amazing production and technical crew, our awesome Ninjas, and dedicated partners at both NBC and Esquire."

  • Thomas Middleditch

    "It feels pretty strange. To be truthful, I was kind of sleeping [when the nominations came out.] I was just sleeping in — although that has now been obliterated this morning. Actually, I had just gotten up because one of my dogs had peed in the bed. So I was actually cleaning urine out of my sheets when I checked my messages. And then I saw there were enough missed calls and messages that I was like, 'Oh no, did someone die?' I really thought something terrible had happened. But it was a pleasant surprise that it was a bunch of congrats."

  • Tituss Burgess

    “I was sitting at my piano working on a new musical the moment I heard the news. In that moment, surrounded by so much love, I felt truly humbled to be a part of such an amazing show. Thank you to the Academy, and thank you to the wonderful family and team that is Ellie, Jane, Carol, Robert, and Tina.”

  • David Mandel

    Mandel, who watched the announcement live on TV, says it took some time before he realized that Veep had earned 17 nominations. "They announced Julia [Louis-Dreyfus] and the show and all of a sudden it ended. I was like, 'Wait a second, there are a lot of other categories!'" he told THR. "It took me too much time to find them on the Emmys website and I started scrolling through to find traces of Veep. Every time I saw a nomination, I was just so happy for the person: Tony [Hale] and Matt [Walsh], too! Anna [Chlumsky]! Then it started to hit our sound mixers and editors, but there was no running tally."

    The showrunner, who also picked up noms for best writing and best directing for a comedy, says he immediately called Louis-Dreyfus, who is vacationing in Spain. "It was fun talking to her as we were seeing it," he says. "I got to tell Julia that [first-time nominee] Matt got one. Somewhere in there, I saw it was 17 and it was like, 'Oh my god!'"

    He added, "I cannot tell a lie, there was a little bit of champagne in the writers room today, but we did work. My wife took the kids to camp this morning, I watched the announcement and then left. I’m not sure she has any idea that this has happened — that’ll ground me one way or the other."