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Elisabeth Moss (Det. Robin Griffin), Top of the Lake
On the scene in the Jane Campion miniseries in which Robin sidles up to her clueless childhood rapist at a bar and then beats him with a broken bottle:
''He had a blood pack under his shirt so I had to hit it in the right spot to make the blood pack burst and I would get blood all over my hands. My makeup artist was cleaning the blood off my hands in between takes and we found that it kept coming back until we realized that it was my blood and I was bleeding from the broken bottle. I had bruises all over my body from him dragging me out of the bar. We did the scene probably 10 times, more even. I was definitely shaken afterwards. It took me a few minutes to stop shaking from the adrenaline of it all but it was super fun too.''
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Taran Killam (Various), Saturday Night Live
On screaming in Justin Bieber's face during the ''Glice'' sketch:
''I would amp it up a little bit throughout the week, but what was shown on air was definitely at least 30 percent more than what I had been doing in the build-up to it. [Laughs] You want that element of surprise. You want to keep it fresh because it's live, and that's the best part of the show. As much as people are tuning into see what's funny and what's entertaining, they're also, in the back of their minds, kind of secretly hoping that something will go wrong. I think that's why people really get a kick out of it when cast members break or they laugh — you're seeing that we're enjoying it, and it reminds you that this is happening right now, there are no redos, and there are no edits.''
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Maggie Siff (Tara), Sons of Anarchy
On Tara's heartbreaking line as she was led away in handcuffs in the season finale:
''It was a really interesting moment because it wasn't in the script. [Creator] Kurt [Sutter] was directing the episode, which is always a luxury. He's very strict about all of us adhering to the words as they're written on the page, and on the page, I had very little to say. I was just led off in handcuffs. When we started to shoot the scene, I said to Kurt, 'I have to be having a reaction to what's happening.' We just talked about what the various possibilities are. I said, 'I just put my child down to bed. I'm being dragged out of the house, and my children are in the other room. So I think I would go quietly, but I also think that I'd be freaking out.' So we were trying to figure out where it lived, and he told me to say that: 'He's crying.' We didn't know how I would say it, or how it would come out, and then as we were shooting it, it's this surreal I'm being led away in handcuffs, and he's crying, and I can't go to him. It's kind of like a statement of fact. But it was a totally invented moment on the spot.''
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Adam Scott (Ben Wyatt), Parks and Recreation
On a very special episode for Ben and Leslie (Amy Poehler):
''I've said this before, but [the show] is kind of like The Wire of television comedy in that each season is different. There's kind of a different subject that the show is wrapping itself around, and the characters are different every season. It's not a show where everybody goes back to normal and a new episode starts. The characters have actually shifted and grown and changed over the years. I think that's a really wonderful thing and a rare thing for TV comedy. But this year was really special, obviously, for me, because of the wedding. And I just thought it was a really lovely episode — really wonderfully written and directed — and I'll always remember the night that we shot it. It was a really wonderful night and everyone was really moved. It wasn't just a day at work.''
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Hayden Panettiere (Juliette Barnes), Nashville
On filming her season finale monologue beside Juliette's mother's casket:
''That scene was the hardest/easiest scene I think I've ever shot as an actor. The hardest because I literally couldn't keep myself together. When I walked into that room during rehearsal — without even being in my gown, just a regular normal rehearsal — I couldn't breathe and couldn't run through the dialogue. I just immediately welled up. And those words that she says?. She says not everything that she wanted to say, but she finally admits that she was that horrible and sees what she's done and that she is all alone. She's kind of in la la land. It's almost like when somebody finds out that somebody's passed away and they involuntarily laugh because it's such a massive pill to swallow that it's incomprehensible. I'm a New Yorker, so I went through 9/11, and my dad was a lieutenant in the fire department, and I remember when I heard about that and saw that, it's something that just stuns you so much that you don't know what to do with your emotions. And Juliette's just heartbroken and in shock.''
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Matthew Rhys (Philip), The Americans
On the importance of bringing sympathy to Philip:
''You think of a KGB operative, and you think of a cold, hard-line machine. And at its core, in the research I did early on, you realize those operatives who are working as they did were indoctrinated from a very early age. So usually around 18 [years old] they were taken into the Committee, as it's called. So you think, they were taken in as kids when they didn't know who they were, and I think he's gotten to a point in his life where he kind of realizes he's no longer defined by his job because his kids are his priority. And he spent 14 years in an ostensibly arranged marriage and now real feelings are crossing over. I just thought it was important to bring a human element to it?if you think the elements human and universal, then you'll get the audience. The audience will go with you then...''
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Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates), Bates Motel
On accepting the role exec producer Carlton Cuse wrote with her in mind:
''I look at characters the way my 4-year-old son Fynn looks at Legos: He doesn't want the Duplo Legos, for 2-year-olds — they're janky. He wants that 2,503-piece collector's item Imperial Shuttle that features the rotating double laser-wing cannons. And for me it's the same thing: Norma Bates is the Imperial Shuttle. She's the most comprehensive spice rack of maternal love and angst and I suppose it's just, it's all those pieces, those billion pieces, to her that I found challenging?. What I was drawn to above all, what I'm always drawn to because I recognize this in myself, is contradictions. And from the first episode, I think what was so exhilarating was that feeling of that pendulum of a trapeze artist swinging this way and that way on all these contradictions. She's impulsive, but she's measured. She's controlling, and she's out-of-control. She's heartbreaking and yet conniving. She's fragile and tenacious.''
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Jimmy Smits (Nero Padilla), Sons of Anarchy
On an oddly romantic moment between ex-addict/OG gangster Nero and Gemma (Katey Sagal):
''Two people who have a lot of baggage, how do they start building a relationship that's kind of fresh and young in a way? But all this other kind of— who's that Peanuts character that's always walking around with the cloud of dirt around him? [Laughs] Like Pig-Pen! You got all this s---, like, swirling around you, which is your past life. And they're trying to find something pure, in a way. So you're sitting in a mausoleum, and you say, 'Why don't we make it like a first date?' [Laughs] And people are looking at you like, What? What are you talking about? Having the freedom to be able to have a voice for that — that's what it's all about.''
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Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Game of Thrones
On Margaery's infamous crossbow tutorial with Joffrey (Jack Gleeson):
''She's completely acting. It's great; you see her thinking on her feet about tactics and how to handle him. And he keeps moving constantly. That's the nature of his monster-like behavior, isn't it, the unpredictability of it. So watching him shape-shift and watching her keep up, if not get ahead of him — that was the first scene that Jack and I had ever played together. So that was a little bit of a crossing over [between] life and art. When I started to shoot the scene, Dan Minahan, the director, said to me, 'You see all these dead animals up on the wall, and I want you to look at that crossbow as if it's an AK-47.' So [Margaery's] immediate reaction is shock and fear. And then [the scene shows] how she swallows and suppresses her fear, and gives the audience an insight into what the dynamic in that relationship is going to be.''
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Corey Stoll (Congressman Peter Russo), House of Cards
On why the character kept popping back into his head months after he'd auditioned:
''He was somebody who had an infinite amount of confidence that he could get himself out of any situation he could get himself into. He could just sort of tell everybody yes and pick up the pieces later. But at the same time, he had this really gaping hole of need right at his center that he was only vaguely aware of. It seems from the pilot that you were going to be able to see that other side of him. Then as the season progressed, what was so great about the role was how encyclopedic it was. You really got to see this character at his strongest and his weakest, at his most articulate and most clumsy. That was really fun because you never knew what you were going to be playing from one moment to the next.''
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Tatiana Maslany (Sarah Manning...and six others), Orphan Black
On the prospect of playing clones:
''I didn't see any further in the future than trying to get the part. I was just so hungry for this challenge and this role. I didn't really think about how it would be received or anything. I kind of assumed it could sort of fall by the wayside because not a lot of stuff that I've done has really had this sort of reach. So I never expected anything like this. And, you know, I think I was aware that it could go totally wrong because it's kind of a [detailed concept], and I'm kind of putting myself out there quite completely. So I was a little nervous about it, but I loved the writing, and I knew the way the show was being shot was full of integrity and artistry. I just felt like it was a very special piece regardless of what people were going to say about it. I was very proud of what we'd done.''
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Jeff Perry (Cyrus Beene), Scandal
On Cyrus's bare-all scene with husband James (Dan Bucatinsky):
''Shonda [Rhimes] has Cyrus go into a reveal of motivation. And it's probably the first time Cyrus has uttered it. 'Do you know what I was meant to be? I wasn't meant to be Chief of Staff, I was meant to be the president. But guess what? I'm not very tall, I'm not very pretty. So this is kind of as far as I can go. And Fitzgerald Grant was kind of my shot. And when you get your shot, you either take it or you lose, and I've lost enough.' I remember writing Shonda about this. I said it was such a gigantic character gift, and an actor gift, because you've created a picture of someone who is a very, very veteran, professional politician, who's sort of wired for only the strategic truth. The ends justify basically any means to the political animal that Cyrus is. Shonda creates the pressure of simultaneous, dichotomous truths of what is amoral strategy meets an idealism and a real belief. And here I have the deepest secret that I hope that no one ever hears about. And the one relationship that I've had in my late 50s of a guy of my generation really scared on so many levels to be fully out of the closet, but also who's never really known how to commit to one person, and I really love this man. And it's kind of like, 'Tell me the truth or lose me.' And I tell him the truth. And he listens. And I don't know what he's going to do. Someone so wired for secrecy and strategy forced to come clean. I thought it was really in the writing. It felt like really exquisite pressure to honor all that stuff that she built about the character.''
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Sigourney Weaver (Secretary of State Elaine Barrish), Political Animals
On the appeal of the character that lured her to TV:
''I'm not usually offered that kind of lovely, powerful-but-feminine role. It was unlike anything I've been offered before and I really enjoyed it. I loved Elaine, and I admired her. I thought she had been through a hell of a lot. But I loved how the scripts were done so that you would always see her at her best in the Oval Office or somewhere knocking men's heads together, but then she'd go home and be like just the rest of us and overwhelmed by her family and various personal problems and dilemmas and her inability to kind of get over her husband and all this really juicy, human stuff.''
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Adam Driver (Adam), Girls
On his approach to darker sex scenes:
''I think we all attack the sex scenes just as much as we do scenes that aren't sexual, and hopefully that's what people are responding to: that there is storytelling happening in the sex, and sometimes it's good to take risks where the lines are blurry. I know a lot of people just didn't know how to swallow it, and there's so much dialogue about, 'What is the story we're trying to tell?' that we don't need to answer for ourselves. Hopefully we leave it to the viewer to debate. I don't think anyone is trying to do anything for the purpose of offending?. There is just as much dialogue about those scenes as there is about scenes of me and Natalia [Shiri Appleby] walking down the street.''
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Parker Posey (Liz), Louie
On her inspiration for the four-episode arc:
''I was thinking about Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude and that kind of life-affirming moment. When you connect with someone how you act and how you are. And there's an energy. It's a really cool little moment for me to work as this archetype of a free spirit that I thought I'd be playing in films my whole career. I thought I'd have a career playing women in the vein of Ruth Gordon, and we've seen that type almost disappear. All of a sudden I got to bring that kind of natural, optimistic, troubled free spirit to a television show. I'm glad I got to portray it.''
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Freddie Highmore (Norman Bates), Bates Motel
On the significance of episode 7:
''We see for the first time the real splint in personality between him speaking in his own voice and then speaking through his mother's voice, and in turn, her personality. It's a big moment because you realize he isn't actually in control all the time of what he wants to be doing. His mother's influence on him is kind of subconscious, and that's even more dangerous — the fact that she's spoken to him or she's put this influence on him that he himself can't even control. We worked on it a lot. That was one of the key things Vera [Farmiga] and I had to do together as a team because I think we shot the scene where Norman says Norma's lines first. Then we had to work out how Vera was going to be saying it in a way that would be immediately identifiable when Norman did it later on. And come up with the voice that Vera saw as being in Norman's head and he would speak through it, so that was a fun process.''
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Carrie Preston (Elsbeth Tascioni), The Good Wife
On the joys of being a recurring guest star:
''They have to make sure your schedule is free to do them before they'll write them. I knew that they were going to bring me on, and we kept hearing from casting that it was going to be really good. So I was definitely getting talked up waiting for the script. When I read that first script where she was in jail, I thought, 'Wow! This is going to be so much fun to see what it is like when Elsbeth can't go anywhere. This is a person who is incredibly busy. What is it like when she's confined? What happens to her brain?' That was a really exciting prospect. Then when they brought on this Josh Perotti character, and it was being played by Kyle MacLachlan, I just thought, 'What else could they come up with that could be better than that?' I was pretty thrilled to see what Elsbeth was like with the opposite sex. Especially, someone that she's attracted to — although would never say it. The case is more important.''
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Michael Cudlitz (John Cooper), Southland
On his character's fate in the series finale:
''This is Southland, so we don't editorialize. There's not a soundtrack playing behind it telling you what to think. We let grown-up adults watch the show and draw their own conclusions. It was amazing to see all the crazy stuff people thought was happening: 'He did suicide by cop'....'It was an accident'...and then the whole idea of, 'Well, if this is true, there's no way he can still be a cop. Maybe it was a dream. He must've been lying in bed thinking about the baby and thought about all of this.' It was really, really intense.''
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Abigail Spencer (Amantha), Rectify
On her chemistry with costar Aden Young, who plays Amantha's brother Daniel, a freed death row inmate:
''I showed up in Georgia not knowing who was going to play Daniel. Their relationship has to have extreme comfort, extreme awkwardness, inside jokes, and all those things that go into a complicated relationship. As soon as he opened his mouth there was a natural dynamic. Aden has an incredible stillness in his soul, and it makes me feel loud on the inside. We just leaned into it. That scene [in which Daniel's first released from prison and they're driving] we shot on one of the first days and one of the last days. I can tell which takes are which because I see the comfort in our last day of shooting. It's like a beautiful secret.''
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David Harewood (CIA Director David Estes), Homeland
On Estes' relationship with Carrie (Claire Danes):
''I played every scene as if I was still in love with her?. It wasn't supposed to be written that way but, you know, if somebody breaks your marriage up — and I mentioned to Claire, during the pilot I even mentioned it to [exec producer] Alex [Gansa], that Estes seemed to me to be the type of guy who would tell his wife. I don't think she found out. He's such a square guy, that I just thought to myself: she must have just blown his mind. I mean the sex must have been insane. So I think he just thought 'This is it. I'm in love,' went to his wife and said 'Look, I'm in love. I'm gonna leave you.' And Claire agreed with that's what freaked her out and she then ran away. And I think if somebody hurts you like that it's in your heart. So for me every time I got together with Carrie I was trying to bury my emotions. ? they were just underneath the surface. Right at the end [of the porch scene] where she kind of kicks off — it's been almost like a lovers' tiff — I kind of go, 'Listen don't think this is you getting your job back.' We have this very kind of measured, kind of diplomatic fencing match and then it all just kind of explodes at the end again into that lovers' tiff. It's a shame we didn't get to explore it a bit more. But I certainly played every scene as if I was still really crazy about her.''
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Sarah Burns (Krista), Enlightened
On pregnant assistant Krista's confrontation with Amy (Laura Dern) at the hospital:
''There's always a moment between Krista and Amy where Krista has to kind of brace for the impact and think about how she's going to deal with this. It's this very uncomfortable and forced congeniality. In that moment, Amy comes in, and she really wants to see her friend, and she gives her this pillow. At this point they haven't spoken in a while, they've been ignoring each other. And now there's this pillow. This weird pillow?. Even though it's just a scene, there's this arc of emotions. Amy just keeps going and Krista kind of throws herself at her mercy. She's begging her, saying: 'Please, I just want to protect my baby. I don't want to get upset.' And then Amy just dives right back. It's just so baffling. Finally Krista kind of says, 'Nope, I cannot do this.' And then she's immediately stricken and guilty. But I just love it. What a wonderful gift to give to an actor.''
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Nathan Lane (Clarke Hayden), The Good Wife
On the backstory he created for the number-crunching trustee:
''Initially, it's obvious that he can't get emotionally involved and become too friendly with people because of the nature of his job. And it's interesting what he says and what he doesn't say. He can also be manipulative at times. I think just psychologically he's trying to figure out what's really going on with the other people. Eventually, there was something he said in an episode to Rita Wilson's character where he said, 'Why can't people just say what they mean?' It was sort of a revealing moment he has with her. I just decided for myself that he had done some bad things in the past. He sort of abandoned his first love, which, ironically, was the law. He never took the bar. He was really good with numbers, so he got into accounting. I think he rose at some corporation. I think he was asked to do things he probably thought were not quite legal. I think he became very successful and the things he did were never caught. He never had to go to jail; he was never punished. But I always felt that it was some sort of karmic punishment in that the more successful and the more wealthy he became, the further away he grew from his family. He had a wife who left him. He had a son who got involved with drugs and died of an overdose. These are things just for myself. The reason I found that the only person he kind of warmed to over the long haul was Matt Czuchry's character [Cary] was because he sort of reminded him of his son.''
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Monica Potter (Kristina Braverman), Parenthood
On Kristina's breast cancer battle resonating with teary-eyed viewers:
''I felt like so many people identified with her because she is the quintessential mom on TV right now in this day and age. And I felt like everybody identified with her because of all the different emotions she was going through. She was still wanting to take care of her family and make sure they were okay, and you saw that struggle unfold. She still wanted to be sexy for her husband and still wanted to feel like a woman and still wanted to go out with the girls. She still wanted all these things to be normal, but clearly they weren't because of the disease. It was that sort of internal struggle with herself that I thought was interesting. She was battling with herself and then putting on a front for everyone else — even her mom. That's one of the episodes I remember thinking, 'Gosh, you don't know too much about her parents, but her mom's not there.' She didn't come to visit, and that affected her. So I wrote a little backstory about who her mom was and what her mom went through and her childhood. So you do a lot of that background work and it brings more things to light within Kristina's own struggle.''
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James Wolk (Douglas Hammond), Political Animals
On the scene in which Douglas reveals to his mother (Sigourney Weaver) that he leaked her intentions to run for president to the press:
''It was amazing to be inside Douglas's skin and be able to say something to his mom that he always wanted to say. We see him in this pressure cooker throughout the whole series with huge expectations put upon him by his own mother, and he obviously goes through great lengths to try and prevent her from running again, and it all comes to a head in this scene. He's able to be honest and straightforward. It was a great scene to play. [Sigourney's] immense. She's just such a powerful actress. To just kind of be opposite of her and be able to open up, acting with her felt very seamless. There was no wrong turn you could make. We were just ping-ponging it back and forth, and to do that with her was really a joy.''