Emmys: Dylan McDermott on How Ryan Murphy "Reinvented" Him With 'Hollywood'

Earning a nod for supporting actor for his work on the Netflix show, McDermott reflects on the 21-year gap between his nominations.
Netflix/Photofest
Dylan McDermott in 'Hollywood'

It's been 21 years since Dylan McDermott received his last Emmy nomination, for lead actor in The Practice.

"It's unbelievable, it's been so long. It's been 20-something years since my last nomination," says McDermott on Tuesday morning, trying to swallow his last bite of cereal as he starts his phone interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "It's much sweeter this time around, I have to say."

This year, he earned a supporting actor nod for his work on Ryan Murphy's Hollywood, playing Ernie, the owner of a gas station/brothel that hires aspiring actors, writers and other young men looking to make it in Hollywood. His character, too, once had dreams of becoming a star.

McDermott didn't watch the nominations announcement Tuesday, but got a call from his agent, who shared the good news with him.

Why do you say this nomination is so much sweeter?

I wouldn't be here without Ryan Murphy. Ryan Murphy reinvented me. That was his goal. When he gave me this role he said, "I want to reinvent you as an actor," and he did. All the credit goes to Ryan. He saw me in this role, he believed in me, and I wouldn't be here without him.

What would you say you'll take from this experience when it comes to your work in the future?

I fell in love with Ernie. I really fell in love with this guy. I wanted to be Ernie more than I wanted to be Dylan. And, there were times when I was done with work, and I was sitting in my trailer, and I didn't want to leave. I still wanted to be him. So, sometimes that happens where he just took over and I just fell in love with him. His optimism really, really, really stayed with me. There was a certain optimism that Ernie had that really just permeated Dylan. I just love that guy, I love everything about him. I even had underwear made, the clothes, the hair, the mustache — I mean, the whole thing was just, I was in heaven.

The Emmys are going to be a little different this year. We don't know exactly what it's going to look like, but if you have to make your Emmy appearance from your home, what is that going to look like for you?

It's already been thought out, by the way. It's going to be in the living room, of course, and it's going to be Tom Ford, head to toe. All the lighting is done. I got everything done already. I'm actually ready for that tonight, I could do it tonight.

What's the best part of not having to worry about doing a red carpet this year?

The thing about not having to do that I suppose, no travel time. And, there's definitely a lot less pressure of the camera being on you the whole time. And so, whatever it is, I'm just happy to be here, by the way, no matter what it looks like. If I'm in a Zoom box or I'm at the Kodak Theatre, it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that celebrating the fact that I got a nomination and a lot of people on the show got nominations. There's a lot of television shows, a lot of great actors. So, anytime you get to be singled out and recognized is always a great time.

Speaking of great shows, what other shows have you been watching during this stay-at-home time?

My daughter and I, because it's always hard to find a show for a 14-year-old girl and a 58-year-old man, so we have really enjoyed The Umbrella Academy. We've been watching it together.

And since shooting has been halted, what do you find you miss the most about being on set?

Really the only answer is craft services.

I don't think that's ever coming back, either, not in the way it was before.

I really should have savored my last snack because that was it. No more M&M's or pretzels. None of it, it's all gone.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.