Julia Louis-Dreyfus Recalls Her First Emmys: "I Had to Go Pump During the Commercial Break"

9:00 AM 9/15/2017

by Bryn Elise Sandberg

The 'Veep' star and eight-time winner, who had given birth a few weeks before the show, remembers being "in an absolute panic" as veterans Kristen Wiig and Dick Wolf also dish on their most unforgettable moments from past years.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus' first win (for 'Seinfeld') in ’96; she's now up for a record ninth.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus' first win (for 'Seinfeld') in ’96; she's now up for a record ninth.
ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus

    22 nominations; 8 wins

    Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

    The first time I was nominated, which was for Seinfeld [in 1992, for comedy supporting actress], I had given birth to a baby a few weeks prior — let's just say the dress was a tight fit. As the limo was out there waiting to take us to the thing and I was getting zipped into my dress, the whole thing gave way. And we had to improvise and figure out a way to sew me into it, so the whole night I was in an absolute panic about this thing splitting, which it didn't. Plus, I was breastfeeding, so I had to go pump during the commercial break. So I wouldn't say it was the most glamorous night of my life — and I lost. So it was just golden.

  • Dick Wolf

    14 nominations; 2 wins

    Dick Wolf with team 'Law & Order' in 1997; his last nomination was in 2010, for 'American Masters.'
    Dick Wolf with team 'Law & Order' in 1997; his last nomination was in 2010, for 'American Masters.'
    A.P. Photo/Kevork Djansezian

    I thought our chances were slim to none [for a drama series win for Law & Order in 1997], since we'd been nominated for the past six years and not won. After six years, you really don't prepare remarks. I was stunned, it was like I didn't hear them call us. When I got up there, I walked out and the entire first row was filled with the faces of recognizable producers and actors who owed their entire careers to [former NBC Entertainment president] Brandon Tartikoff, as did I. He had passed about a month before, and I got choked up because I wouldn't have been there and nobody in the front row would have been there lest it be for him. All of NBC, programming, marketing, everybody wanted the show dead after the first few weeks. It was too smart for the room. And Brandon said, "I don't care, it's a really good show, we need it on." So he was the first person I thanked. I didn't forget anybody — at least I didn't hear that I had forgotten anybody — and that's the main purpose of those speeches. Twenty years later, it's still one of the best nights of my life.

  • Kristen Wiig

    7 nominations; 0 wins

    Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images

    My first time [in 2009], Tina Fey and Jon Hamm were presenting my category [comedy guest actress]. He was like, "And the Emmy goes to — Kristen ..." and I had this look on my face, like, "Oh, my God!" Then it was, "Chenoweth," and I tried to change my face. I made so many faces in, like, 15 seconds: "Aw, eee, ohh, ehh!" I didn't know what to do because they keep the cameras on you while the person is giving the speech, and your lip does that shake thing when you smile for a long time. Oh, my God, it's like, "Get me to the party!"

  • Marshall Herskovitz


    Marshall Herskovitz
    Marshall Herskovitz
    Getty Images

    The assumption was that [Steven] Bochco was going to win for L.A. Law because Bochco always won. It seemed like a foregone conclusion to us. The episode that Paul Haggis and I won best writing for was very much the story of my own father's death. The fact that we won for that was so moving for me. That was plenty. By the time we got to the final award, we had zero expectations. Ed [Zwick] and I were just utterly flummoxed up there. I didn’t have prepared remarks. We had never discussed it. When Ed came out and said, "If they were giving an award for the most annoying show on television, we'd probably win that, too," I just laughed because I knew it was true.

  • Henry Winkler

    'Happy Days'

    Henry Winkler
    Henry Winkler
    Neilson Barnard/FilmMagic/Getty Images

    I was there last year for a sad occasion — [to remember Happy Days creator] Garry Marshall. I remember after I left the stage, you walk up these stairs in another building to take a picture, and standing in front of me is John Oliver and I said, "I don't know what to say to you, I have to give you a hug." This very tall Englishman said, "OK," and gave me a hug. When we were done, I was walking down the stairs out of the building and there was [Orphan Black star] Tatiana Maslany, whom I had been tweeting about and never met. The year before, I tweeted that she was robbed and should have at least been nominated. And all the sudden I stop and she looks at me and introduces herself. I said, "I have to give you a hug." After it was over, as I was going back to my car to go home, [Empire star] Terrence Howard stopped me and said, "I have to give you a hug," because he loved [NBC's] Better Late Than Never [in which Winkler is among the hosts]. It was a night of three extraordinary hugs and it was what I needed — and they were from people I watched and enjoy.

  • David Crane


    David Crane
    David Crane
    Getty Images

    Every year that Friends was nominated, I would sit there, anxiously waiting for our category to come up. And every year, when the winner was announced, there was a moment where time would slow down, and I could only hear the first two letters of the show’s name, that seductive “F” and “R.” Those two letters seemed to draw out for an eternity, filled with hope. “Fffffrrrrr… .” But they always ended with “… asier!” It got to the point, when Friends finally won in its eighth season, and they announced “Ffffrrrr… ,” I didn’t even let myself get excited. I assumed there’s no way it could be us. Even though Frasier wasn’t even nominated that year. I just know if Episodes is nominated again, we’ll probably lose to something called “EpiPen!”


  • Aaron Sorkin

    'The West Wing'

    Getty Images

    The moment I remember most was Allison Janney winning for what would turn out to be the first time of a lot after that. She was the first Emmy that the show won. We went to the Emmys that year — it was the end of our first season — and honestly, it was an honor just to be nominated. We just assumed that The Sopranos would win everything, especially because this was the second year for The Sopranos and the year before The Practice had won the Emmy for best drama. When they called Allison’s name, I leapt out of my seat. I was just so happy. And that was followed by Richard Schiff, and that was followed by Tommy Schlamme. And then we won best drama. When the show was over, I walked backstage and Nancy O’Dell said, “Aaron, The West Wing just broke the record for Emmys won in a single night. Did you know that?”