It's primetime, folks! All the top TV shows at Emmys 2107
Sofia Vergara & Ed O’Neill on Modern Family
Sofia Vergara plays Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, a feisty Colombian married to the Pritchett patriarch, and mother to Manny and Joe. Often characterised by her outspoken attitude and considerable temper, accompanied with high-pitched ranting, sometimes switching to her mother-tongue. Not one to hold back when it comes violence, her voice is known to setting off car alarms and causing the nieghbourhood dog into a frenzy. She enjoys the limelight, using her looks and curvaceous body to her advantage. A devout Catholic, she is proud of her Colombian roots and insists on introducing
traditional practices in the household.
She has received four Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for this role. Sofia was born and raised in Barranquilla, Columbia, and was discovered at the beach by a photographer, which led to various modelling jobs. She began her career as the star of a Pepsi commercial, and is known for hosting various Spanish TV shows. A natural blonde, she made a splash with the film, Big Trouble, starring alongside Tim Allen and Rene Russo.
Modern Family has dominated comedy on TV with the supporting award given to veterans Eric Stonestreet and Ty Burrell every year since the series’ 2010 debut. With a major cast boasting of actors such as Julie Bowen, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Ed O’Neill and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the show has racked up a few nods this year as well. That brings its tally to 80 Emmy nominations over the years, 22 of which have turned into wins.
So why do you think Modern Family is such a success?
Sofia Vergara: It is a combination of many things. It is luck, first of all. Also we have a great cast. The casting was amazing. We all like each other. We all have chemistry. The writers are amazing, Chris Lloyd and Steven Levitan, the creators, they know exactly what they want from the show. It’s mainly good luck.
Ed, you won some kind of lottery to be paired with her!
Ed O’Neill: Yeah. Isn't she amazing?
I call her the forces of nature. She's amazing. When I first met her, I heard her at the table reading the first time, and I looked at her and thought, “I know why they hired her.” And I thought, “I just hope she can act a little bit.” And then, two weeks later, I thought, “My god, she’s like a Lucille Ball (the American comedienne) or something.”
What about improvisation?
EON: Sofia doesn’t improvise so much as mispronounce, and sometimes it’s hilarious what comes out of her.
Sofia, what do you think of the jokes about Colombia on the show?
Sofia: I love it. I think it is fantastic. Everybody loves it. Colombians, we don’t get offended because it is not like they are inventing things. It’s not like the writers are inventing things about Colombia. It’s a reality of what Colombia was and what we can do. We have to laugh about it. The country has changed. I don’t get offended at all. I think it is hilarious.
Have you been Columbia or Mexico?
EON: I’ve been to Mexico. Not Columbia. But we are thinking about doing the show in Columbia.
Do you get recognised a lot in the street by the fans? What are their reactions?
SV: Yeah, it is crazy. You know what, I think in person I look a little bit smaller than on the TV. So people just stare and stare like — maybe she is, maybe she is not. The moment I open my mouth, ‘I knew it!’ When I go out with people they are looking at me and it’s like, ‘Mom, don’t talk now. We are going to be here all like an hour more taking pictures and we need to go.’ As long as I don’t speak, I’m safe.
Would you consider moving back to Columbia, maybe in 10 or 20 years?
SV: It’s far from Los Angeles. There’s no direct flight. You have to stop in New York or Miami. And then it’s a nightmare. I love the US. And I love to be able to go to Colombia, and come back — I love it here and there too. But maybe. Maybe when I’m a lot older. Now it wouldn’t be an intelligent move for me – but maybe later. I haven’t thought of it. I try not to plan anything that much in advance, as then you get disappointed. It’s better to get surprised, you know.
Jessica Lange on Feud: Bette & Joan
With 18 nominations under its belt, this is another mini-series worth its salt, featuring the famous and very public feud between iconic yesteryear actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Three Oscar winners — Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Zeta Jones — portray three other Oscar winners — Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland — respectively. A unique take on ageism and misogyny in Hollywood told through the eyes of these two stalwarts as they struggled to hang onto the coat-tails of success.
You didn’t know an awful lot about Joan Crawford before you took on this role.
Jessica Lange: Feud wasn’t something that I started preparing months ahead of time, I just arrived on set and dove right in. I said, “I don’t know who Joan Crawford is.” Once I started researching her, she became fascinating to me as there are so many facets to her that I think people don’t really see, because she’s always very guarded. I’d hear people say that she never walked into a room without saying, “Hello, I’m Joan Crawford.” But that was her life’s investment, and she cherished it and she guarded it like a mother bear.
At what age do you think things start to change for Hollywood stars?
JL: I think it’s towards your mid- to late-40s. But then what happens is, somebody like Tommy Lee Jones or Jack Nicholson or whoever you’ve made your career playing opposite, suddenly they’re cast with people who are 10 or 15 or 20 years younger.
That imbalance is extraordinary.
JL: It’s pretty crazy, isn’t it?
It’s a reflection of what happens to women in life. Hollywood magnifies it.
JL: No. I think Hollywood is just a microcosm of a much greater issue. Also, the difficulty for Joan,
who was known as a great beauty, is that beauty in this culture is equated with youth. You’re not
considered beautiful if you are 50 or older, and you hear comments about how beautiful a woman must have been when she was younger.
But that’s only with women. We don’t have that problem with men.
JL: No. Because we live in a white patriarchy. It’s always in their favour. Always.
That’s extraordinary, as she had such an appetite...
JL: Yes. She was very sexual and what I read about her was that her sexuality was not demure, it was not coy. It was direct. From accounts I read, if she wanted to have sex with somebody she did, she was not shy about it. She took her clothes off and sometimes she would even come to the door naked. Some of the stories about her are wild. They’re great. I loved it.
Feud: Bette & Joan premieres on October 5 at 10 pm on Star World
This is Us
A poignant family drama that’s not scared of delving into the intricacies of complex familial ties, This is Us makes for a good dose of introspection and asks daunting questions that we struggle with in our daily lives. With 10 sparkling nominations in its kitty, this heart-tugging show boasts of an ensemble cast of Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Justin Hartley, Sterling K Brown and Chrissy Metz.
It’s rare to see adoption portrayed on TV and even rarer to see the reaching out to the biological parent. Tell us a little about playing out that storyline and finding that connection as actors.
Sterling K Brown: For me it's interesting because I lost my father when I was 10 years old, so I’ve gone a long time without him, and that void of having things going well in your life — I have two children. Randall has two children. He’s been happily married for quite some time, but there’s still that absence of, “If my dad was here to share this with his grand-children, to see this moment of my son saying this phrase or whatnot.” That's something I feel in my soul, which helped me connect to Randall. That I get a chance to explore it through the course of this first season of the show — that I’m looking forward to.
Ron Cephas Jones: For me, it was about the fact that it wasn’t cliché and also the fact that I’m a father who is playing a father, touching base with those kinds of feelings, and the journey that this character is about to take — I’m really excited, because it could go so many different ways socially, medically, and just making connection generationally. That’s what I’m really excited about, that I get an opportunity to play a character that’s not just cliché, but has some depth, and be able to extend the storyline in so many different ways.
Milo and Mandy, you guys have so many high emotional moments to work out fast in the course
of the pilot. How did you make that work?
Milo Ventimiglia: It was one of those things that just naturally fit. It’s an odd thing to play the intimacy of a couple that has been through their ups and their downs in an immediate moment of being on camera. Sometimes you’re saying, “Hi, how nice to meet you.” But it was a very natural thing.
Mandy Moore: We met during the audition process. We had a callback together, and I felt immediately, like, “Okay.” I mean, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. As actors, it’s our job to dig a little deeper and find that intimacy, and to try and make that connection. But then sometimes it’s just sort of right there on the surface.
Season 2 of This is Us premieres on September 30 at 9 pm on Star World
Anna Chlumsky, Matt Walsh & Timothy Simons on Veep
Anna Chlumsky plays Amy Brook-heimer in Veep, for which she received five consecutive nods for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. On the show, Anna has the enviable role of Chief of Staff. Matthew Walsh, who plays Mike McLintock, the inept press secretary, has received two nods for Outstanding Supporting Actor. While Timothy Simons, as Jonah Ryan, has gone from White House staffer to political blogger to campaign adviser in the comedy series. A political satire that takes on an incompetent president and her lousy staff as they try to ward through Washington politics, the show has 59 nominations and 12 awards in all. This year, the show has garnered 17 nods at the Emmys.
Where do we find your characters as Season Six opens?
Anna: At the end of Season Five, Amy’s in love with Buddy. And she is looking forward to having the real life that she always saw in Big Red commercials — those sexy chewing gum ads.
It was like, kiss a little longer. [Singing] Stay close a little longer.
Matt: Freshness with Big Red
Timothy: I love broke Mike. Broke Mike with the boat. Trying to sell the boat on eBay.
Anna: Did I tell you I did a CBS pilot once, about three freshman Congresswomen who had to share a house? It was called House Rules. That was two seasons before Veep .
Was it fun to delve into the inner workings of Congress?
Timothy: Yeah, it was fun, doing the research on it. I was not a great high school student, so my knowledge about the government was not great, and I have personally learned a lot about how this whole thing works and gets put together. Especially with Congress, which is the more maligned group. The feeling is that it’s kind of special to be a senator, but honestly, I feel like any a** can get elected to Congress. It was fun to delve into that a little bit, and to see how the character responds to having a little bit of power — that was really fun.
Matt, is there a sense of relief for you not being in his old job, while the person in the real job in the real world is probably more comedic and ridiculous than anybody ever could write?
Matt: Mike was a bumbling press secretary who pushed the boundaries of reality, but there were things that they would write, and we would say, no, I don’t know, that seems too far-fetched. And then, lo and behold, day one, (former White House Press Secretary) Sean Spicer steps up and he’s worse than Mike McClintock, and, everyone’s always saying that now. Every day on Twitter, I get ten people commenting: Is this Mike McClintock? No, it’s not. It is worse. Which is really hard to believe, but it’s true. And it’s so unwittingly prescient. We write something intentionally stupid or intentionally funny, and then it becomes reality.
Anna: We actually conjured them. I don’t know if anybody realises that we are wizards. We are Wiccan, and we spend a lot of our hiatuses working on our pentagrams.
Veep airs from Monday-Friday at 8 pm on Star World
David E Kelley on Big Little Lies
Based on Liane Moriarty’s novel, Big Little Lies scored an astounding 16 nominations this year.
A dark dramedy, the gripping seven-episode mini-series explores society’s myths of perfection and the contradictions that exist beneath the idealised facade of marriage, sex, parenting and friendship. TV writer-producer David E Kelley, known for creating shows such as Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Public and Boston Legal, speaks about the star-studded affair, which includes Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.
How difficult, or not, was it to adapt this for TV?
David E Kelley The book had a great architecture, both with character and plot — the characters were well-formed, the story was very gripping and that’s the reason I responded to it. I loved the people and I loved the plot. So I tried to be faithful to it, though we do have some twists and turns. I think people who have read the book should still want to come and visit the series, because we zig in a couple places where the book zags, while still being pretty faithful to the material. Which is what we wanted to be, because we were great fans of the book.
There were some really complicated themes within the book, we were mindful to try and mine those themes in a serious way. Part of the fun of the book is the musings and digressions of the Greek chorus characters and the characters themselves, but you can’t put all that in, even if you wanted to. Sometimes, on the screen, if you do seek to put that in, you’re going to undermine the severity of those themes that you want to mine. We probably thinned some of that and stayed true to the more primal goings-on that were happening with these characters.
Writing a show with five female leads is rare.
DEK They’re my favourite characters. All of these characters spoke to me. They did in the book
too — I found them very relatable and interesting,
I wanted to know more about them.
Big Little Lies premieres on September 25 at 10 pm on Star World