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Hugh Jackman received his fifth Emmy nomination Tuesday, and his first for anything outside a performance during an awards show (he was nominated three times for his work at the Tony Awards — and won once — and once for his work at the Oscars). This year, his nomination comes for his performance in Bad Education, HBO’s TV movie, in which he stars as a school superintendent who steals millions of dollars from the the school district. The film, which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival and was broadcast on HBO in April, also stars Allison Janney.
Jackman spoke to The Hollywood Reporter soon after the nominations were announced Tuesday to talk a bit more about his work on the film, the other nominee he reached out to and what he misses most about being on set.
Where were you this morning when the nominations were announced?
I’m in East Hampton. I’m sitting still at our breakfast table. Unfortunately, waking up my daughter because I was too loud when the news came in. But feeling very blessed and humble — I’m grateful to be part of a film that you love doing that people seem to respond to and then you get a nomination. It’s just all icing on the cake. It meant a lot.
What about this performance do you feel like you’re most proud of?
It was something that I hadn’t done before. I was scared of it, which is always a good sign for me. Generally what I’m most scared of generally brings out the best in me. When I watch the film, I think it’s an important story to tell, a cautionary tale. I think we showed a lot of, maybe more dimension of the story and of the characters than people may have expected, or people knew about it. In that way, and in terms of the performance, if I can be critical of myself or objective, which is typical. I find it hard to watch my own stuff. I’ve been doing this for 25 years now and I feel a little more spontaneous and fearless in the work in front of the camera.
Were there any other nominees or shows that have really left an impression on you?
Well, I just wrote an email actually to Paul Mescal, who I noticed got nominated, about a week ago having seen the first six or seven episodes of Normal People. I’m a big Lenny Abrahamson fan, so I watched it and I was just blown away by that. I just thought his performance was extraordinarily layered and bold. I always remember that Billy Wilder quote when he talked about William Holden and why he cast him in Sunset Boulevard. He said, “Well, he has the courage not to act.” I wrote that to Paul because I think he exhibits that at such a young age.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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