Andy Samberg is sitting on a couch in a room on the Universal lot when Sandra Oh walks in with a cup of soup. There’s a perfectly fine chair across from him, but instead, Oh settles on the sofa, throwing her feet up on?his lap, and declaring, “I’m in our dynamic already.” It’s the first time the pair — who are more mutually admiring colleagues than showbiz pals — have been together since signing on to host the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 6 on NBC. Samberg, a longtime member of the NBCUniversal family (the SNL alum’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, dropped by Fox, relaunches on NBC four days later) with a steady track record of hosting gigs, was an obvious choice. Oh was the one packing the shock value, which is exactly what NBC Entertainment co-chairmen George Cheeks and Paul Telegdy and producer Dick Clark Productions (which shares a parent company with THR) were after in the first year of NBC’s new eight-year deal to telecast the Globes, seen in 2018 by 19 million people. With hopes of conjuring a hit one-two punch à la Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the execs recalled Samberg and Oh’s turn at the Emmys. “We thought, ‘What a coup it’d be to get them,’?” says Cheeks. “And then the stars aligned, and we feel like we’ve won the lottery.” Despite being utterly exhausted on this warm mid-December morning — Oh, 47, has just flown in from London, where she shoots BBC America’s Killing Eve (for which she’s up for a best actress Globe), and Samberg, 40, just broke from filming Brooklyn (for which he won a 2014 Globe) — the co-hosts jump into a lively dialogue, edited here for length and clarity, about how to make Hollywood laugh in 2019 and the one thing they won’t do onstage. With a few nudges from THR, they also delved into touchier topics, from the ghosts of social media past to the Trump quotient viewers can expect on the Globes telecast (hint: It’s low). Says Oh, “I’m not interested in that at all.”
ANDY SAMBERG So, why did you say yes to hosting, Sandra? I said yes ’cause you were going to do it.
SANDRA OH I said yes because you were going to do it! Honestly, I said yes even though it was so terrifying to me, really terrifying. I just could not let this opportunity pass me by, the life experience of being this scared of something.
SAMBERG So when you got asked to do this, you were shooting Killing Eve. Were you talking to castmates about it?
OH No, this (puts both hands over her face) is how I was with it. I was actually so scared of it that I didn’t want to say it until it was actually announced. (Laughs.)
SAMBERG I can relate to that, too. If you’ve ever been in our job, you’ve at some point suffered the embarrassment of being like, “I’m on this thing!” And then you get cut out of it. Or you’re like, “I’m about to close the biggest deal!” And then it falls apart, and you’re like, “Noooo, I told my parents!”
OH But, I mean, you’re a pro. How many awards shows have you?hosted?
SAMBERG The MTV Movie Awards, the Spirit Awards and the Emmys. I think that’s it.
OH Three giant awards.
SAMBERG Well … (Laughs.) I enjoyed all those experiences a great deal, but the Globes is a great room for?comedy, so it’s something that I always thought I’d love to do. That said, I am so much happier to be doing it with you than to do it alone. Seth [Meyers] was incredible last year — and it was such a tricky year with everything that was coming to light, and he really threaded the needle well — but the years that are more like how I would dream of doing it were Tina and Amy’s. I like playing off someone else and having there be a looseness to it and the ability to try things that are not necessarily just straight jokes to prompter. That’s why I’m excited to do it with you ’cause you’re such an incredible performer. I’m obsessed with Killing Eve. I hope you win. I’m going to make you a crappy little tinfoil fake Globe, just in case you don’t win, and I’m going to bring it out and give it to you and be like, “You’re always a winner to me.”
OH That would be nice. Hey, what did you learn from hosting the?Emmys?
SAMBERG Well, we had months and months to plan for it, whereas …
OH We have five days! Seriously, we have five days.
SAMBERG But it’s going to be great. The Globes are a different room than the Emmys. It’s a little more intimate, it’s a smaller room, people are looser because they’re eating and drinking.
OH They’re just drinking, they’re not eating. They’re just drinking. I feel like people want to get to the party more quickly at the Globes.
SAMBERG A lot of people get to the party at the Globes. Which is nice. It makes for a looser atmosphere. My hope is that you have so much goodwill that we’re just going to skate by. And I will be your lapdog.
OH Oh, no. Help. What’s it going to be like?
SAMBERG It’s going to be great. I think people are ready and could use a little smile. Everyone is depressed, and maybe that’s as good a reason as any that everyone could use a little time to laugh and celebrate. Not to ignore anything, but we spend so much time every day wallowing in a lot of things that are happening in?our world that are really depressing, and with good reason — that stuff needs to be paid attention to — but there’s also power to being positive and celebratory in the tougher times as well.
OH Yeah, and the job of being a host, it’s really to be there to support all the nominees and those who take that platform to say whatever they want. I don’t really think that [getting political] is for the hosts necessarily. You make it an open and safe place for whoever wants to use that platform to speak.
SAMBERG The most memorable moments from the last two years of the Globes have been the DeMille speeches, Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey.
OH Oh, so good. So good, so good. Those two women really understand the power of that platform and took it and opened up a lot. That’s who deserves that kind of award, not only for the work that they’ve done but how they display themselves and their character.
SAMBERG They rose to the occasion, for sure — not that they had very high to rise.
OH They’re already at the top.
SAMBERG I don’t necessarily think people look at us and think, “Oh,?they’re going to come in and just, like …”
OH Roast people?
SAMBERG Yeah, or go hard into detailed politics stuff.
OH No, I don’t think I could do that. I don’t think it’s shallow?to 1) have fun and 2) be honestly celebratory. Just the fact that I’m fucking up there is crazy-pants in a great way. And I’m not interested in [talking about Trump] at all. What I’m interested in is pointing to actual real change. I want to?focus on that ’cause people can pooh-pooh Hollywood all they want — and there is a lot to pooh-pooh, sure — but we also make culture. How many gazillions of people have seen Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians? That changes things. Just speaking for my own community, people cried a lot in [Crazy Rich Asians], and it’s not only because it’s a great story and a classic romantic comedy — it is because seeing yourself reflected onscreen?is really emotional when you don’t even know that you’re carrying so much grief of never being seen.
SAMBERG It’s become so fucking undeniable that it’s this wonderful wave. It does feel like it’s crashing forward, hopefully in this way where you’re like, “Oh, man, this actually feels different in a really good way.”
OH And it’s OK for it to wax and wane. Change is really, really slow. Time will tell. But if the writers and the helmers are interested in moving the cultural story along, the audience will come with you. So, in the spirit of change, Andy, what’s a trend you can’t wait to be over?
SAMBERG Racism. (Laughs.) That would be a nice trend to get rid of.
OH I second that. That is a fucking loooong-ass trend, and I sure can’t wait for that to be over.
SAMBERG I can’t wait for somebody to be like, “Racism is out for fall.”
OH “It was sooo ugly. So ugly and very heavy. It’s out.” How is the role of SNL in the culture different now from when you were on it?
SAMBERG There is no way I’m going to answer that! Screw you! Great question. From what I can?glean being outside it now, it’s more under a microscope and more scrutinized than ever. When we were there, it was sort of the beginning of places doing recaps and ranking the sketches and talking about the inner politics. But it also has changed because everyone is on social media now, so you know about everyone’s personal lives. And their relationship with politics has always been very linked. It wasn’t something that I, with the digital shorts and stuff, was really participating in very much, but W. Bush and Palin were happening at that time. And now it’s obvious that’s what everyone is talking about, and because SNL is this establishment that’s known for it, people really put a lot of pressure on them to be the ones that have the take.
OH And the correct take, which is a tremendous amount of pressure.
SAMBERG It’s really hard to find ways to laugh about those things right now. It is a charged environment. People are mad. And to be a comedy writer, in your 20s often, up in those offices with all these pictures of all these people from the past on the wall that you’re trying to live up to in these times, there is an enormous amount of pressure on everyone working there right now, and I definitely feel for them. I think they’re doing a great job and still cranking out really funny stuff. Social media wasn’t as big of a thing when I was on the show — I remember Twitter started while we were there because Ashton Kutcher was hosting and he was a huge …
OH Twitter person.
SAMBERG Yeah, everyone who is mad at Twitter: Remember, Ashton Kutcher started it. (Laughs.) We did a sketch that ended up getting cut, but it was about Twitter ’cause that was the new thing, Twitter, that Ashton Kutcher is known for. And now it’s such a given that everyone is on it all the time. Pete [Davidson] is hilarious, and the times I’ve interacted with him, he is such a sweet guy. But he’s going through some personal stuff, and there’s no way to live privately now. It’s got to make it harder.
OH We should just all leave him?alone. I’m serious. Let’s give people space, let’s give people privacy, let’s give them the ability to fail.
SAMBERG I’ve been mostly off Twitter my whole life, but I think everyone who is paying attention to any of this [controversy over old tweets from such figures as James Gunn, who was fired from Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, and Kevin Hart, who stepped down as Oscars host] is probably like, “God, I hope I never said something that was …” ‘Cause people change. Especially if you’re in comedy, especially when you’re young in comedy.
OH You don’t want to pre-censor your own self before you discover what you really want to say. But when you put things out there, you’re also responsible for them.
SAMBERG Without a doubt. But a lot of people have told jokes that you think are edgy and funny at the time, and then when they’re exposed in the broad daylight of the world and to people who are actually going through their lives and their own experiences that you really have no idea about, it’s not excusable. You just say you’re sorry. Have you received any advice about hosting this show?
OH No, I haven’t had time. It’s tricky when you’re in the midst of filming. I just finished season two of Killing Eve, and I know you’re in the middle of Brooklyn. But the past several hosts have all been from some sort of late-night, SNL world — and this is completely new to me and thrilling and … intimidating is not the right word, that’s too big of a word. But it’s like, how do you guys play? How do you guys do this? I don’t know the rules of it, and there’s a lot of freedom in that.
SAMBERG The first few conversations we’ve had were so exciting to me because your ideas have all been in a direction the average comedy writer or myself wouldn’t go, and I’m like, “Ooooh, what a cool, new perspective on this.” That’s going to make it way more exciting and way more crackly. Or we’re just going to totally tank it. (Laughs.) I got really good advice from people in this lucky SNL-y position I’m in of being friendly with people who’ve done these shows in the past. The piece of advice that everyone gives is, don’t try and do elaborate stuff too late in the show.
OH Mmm, so we have to cut the whole robot number.
SAMBERG Oh yeah, the robot musical number that we were going to do right before best picture?is announced at the very end? (Laughs.) Sandra, ask me the one thing I won’t do onstage.
OH OK, Andy, what’s the one thing you won’t do onstage?
(Sandra gets up, walks out of the room, then comes back in shaking her head.)
OH You fucking turd.
SAMBERG Mama raised me right. (Laughs.) That’s all I’m saying. Look, I think you don’t know [when the line is crossed] until you’re being asked to do it. For me anyway, there’s a Spidey-sense tingling feeling of like, “No, this is wrong, this doesn’t feel right.” We’ll get our Venn diagram of that correct so that we’re only doing stuff we want to be doing.
OH Yeah, and because this is so new to me and it’s, like, my one shot, I don’t care! (Laughs.)
SAMBERG I mean, we probably don’t want to get naked.
OH Well …
SAMBERG Sorry, didn’t mean to speak for you.
OH I have no problem with that.
SAMBERG In life, sure. But onstage at the Golden Globes?
OH I would get naked.
SAMBERG If you felt like it was appropriate.
OH Yeah, absolutely. If it’s for the right reasons, if it’s in my character, I would get naked.
OH Of course not. (Laughs.) But it felt pretty good just to go that far.
SAMBERG It felt good hearing you say it. And honestly, you were so convincing, I was like, “Shit, maybe I would too. If Sandra’s down.” You have that power. I was about to come out naked and you’re all, “I was kidding!” I’m like, “You’re such a good actor, you fooled me.” (Laughter.)
OH Have you ever said no to an idea that didn’t feel true to you?
SAMBERG I generally am not into getting, like, super mean. There are times where I’ll be like, “Wow, that’s a funny joke, but it’s very much at someone’s expense and it’s not worth it.” There?are certain people where you can give them the business and everyone’s just like, “Yeah, that’s a fair hit.” And it also depends who’s saying the joke. I think people were generally pretty down with Amy and Tina doing their Clooney or James Cameron jokes — and they were also just really funny. I don’t know that necessarily anyone wants to hear me say that joke. But will we be?enlisting the help of any of our famous friends to join us onstage for bits?
OH Are we allowed to do that? I have no famous friends.
SAMBERG Ask people to come do bits? Yeah! You can ask literally anyone. They don’t have to say yes. Like, who’s someone who you think is the most untouchable, so famous, they would never do it? Meryl Streep?
OH Do you think she’d want to do a bit?
SAMBERG No, but she would?definitely be sent the email, minimum. That’s the power we wield, to bother Meryl Streep with an email. We’re in the catbird seat. We have the power to get polite passes from anyone in town.
OH Meryl? “No.” OK, great, thanks.
SAMBERG “No, but, oh, thank them.” (Laughs.) So fill in the blank: The evening will have gone off the rails if …
OH If you don’t show up.
SAMBERG I was going to say if Ted Danson barfs in a tuba, but if you don’t show up, that is way, way, way worse for me and for the show. What will it take for you to consider the night a success?
OH If I don’t pass out, if I can hit all the moments and if I can just stay true and relaxed.
SAMBERG And enjoy it. Maybe we should work it into the script at?some point. Put “Take time to relax and enjoy the moment” on the prompter.
OH Soft knees. I’m always going to tell you that now.
SAMBERG ‘Cause you know my feet hurt a lot because I lock my knees when I’m standing and doing long scenes. It’s apparently a thing.
OH Soft knees, soft sphincter.
SAMBERG Is that true?
OH Yeah, you gotta get it alll loose, right? ‘Cause then you get things flowing. It’s happening right now. You just need to shake it.
SAMBERG Well, we’ve got our pull quote: Soft knees, soft sphincter. (Laughs.) Oookay, no one’s gonna watch. But I don’t care, I’m doin’ it for me.
OH What are you most nervous about?
SAMBERG Well, the prompter went down on Jimmy [Fallon, who hosted in 2017], so probably that.
OH That’s a nightmare.
SAMBERG I mean, I am planning on committing the whole show to memory, that’s kind of standard for me. You don’t have to, but I’m going to …
OH You’ll be off book. You can do whatever you want, you schooled professional.
SAMBERG Just kidding. I won’t be. I really, really won’t be. If the prompter went down, it’d be bad. What are you most excited about for the show? Do you have a particular thing you’re looking forward to? Finishing?
OH I mean, I just want to shake Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hand.
SAMBERG That’s done.
SAMBERG Yes. He’s nominated, so he’ll be there. He’s the nicest guy. Notoriously. He’s a huge Brooklyn Nine-Nine fan and helped save our show. He tweeted a ton, to the point where he came to our upfronts party in New York when we got saved and was like, “We did it!” (Laughs.)
OH I can’t wait to see Mary Poppins, too.
SAMBERG I know, I’m excited to see it. I’m a Blunt-head. OK, what else do you want to talk about, Sandra? Have we learned anything surprising about each other so far?
OH That we’re co-dependent.
SAMBERG That we’re soul mates. (Laughs.)
OH We’re soul mates. We’re fuckin’ co-dependent soul mates.
Catch THR and the HFPA’s Golden Globes Aftershow, hosted by Adrianna Costa and Chris Gardner, exclusively on Twitter — with winner interviews, awards highlights and analysis (plus behind-the-scenes footage from this cover shoot), live at 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET @THR.
This story appears in the Jan. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.