Hollywood Emmy nominee Jeremy Pope on the scene that made him cry, Ryan Murphy's Midas touch
Emmy nominee Jeremy Pope already knows what it feels like to deliver a big award show acceptance speech. Well, kinda.
The 28-year-old got to deliver a rousing and memorable one at the Oscars that take place in the finale of Ryan Murphy's Hollywood. In the Netflix limited series, he plays screenwriter Archie Coleman, who writes a movie about Peg Entwistle — who jumped to her death in 1932 from the H of the Hollywood sign — directed by Raymond Ainsley (Darren Criss) and starring Jack Castello (David Corenswet) and Camille Washington (Laura Harrier).
"It was a beautiful day when we filmed [the Oscars] because it was our last episode, but it was also one of the first times that everyone in the show was together in the same space," Pope recalls while speaking with Maureen Lee Lenker and EW's The Awardist, above, about his Emmy nomination for his performance. "I got to look out and see Patti [Lupone] and Holland [Taylor] and Dylan [McDermott] and Jim [Parsons].... It was really, really special. The background [actors] were so supportive — it really felt like I won an Oscar."
The speech is a powerful moment that "brought tears to my eyes because I knew how powerful this message was going to be," he says of the climactic moment, which was blocked to look like one 40-minute take. "It was very special to have those words, but I got to say them to the audience, say them to the crowd, but also say them for myself and know that I am enough and to know that there is space for me and that my story is important, my narrative is important. And I knew how important this message was going to be once people saw that because I felt it. I had chills in my body," he says of the scene — and series as a whole — that rewrites history in post-World War II Hollywood to reveal what the entertainment industry might look like if gender, racial, and sexuality biases had been systemically addressed and destroyed years ago. "I really took in that moment of, like, this is what you prayed about, this is what you were manifesting for yourself, and we're going to keep going from here."
Emotions were very different, though, for one of the first scenes he shot for the series — a scene he chose to strip down for The Awardist and pinpoint as a standout for him because of the care Murphy, who directed it, took to get it right. "I was a bit anxious and nervous because there was just a lot of new things that I was experiencing and wanting to show up prepared," says Pope, a double Tony nominee in 2019 (only the sixth person to get two nods in one year) for Choir Boy and Ain't Too Proud. They were two hours into shooting the scene, he explains, where Archie first meets Jack Castello and shares his own story and reason for moving to Hollywood, when Murphy suddenly cut their day short. "You could tell something was off but I didn't really know what it was. And about that third hour, we were starting to do some coverage and close-ups and he came in very politely and was like, 'We're done for today... It's just not working. I need to re-work the scene. I see it differently in my head.'"
No sooner had Pope gotten out of his wardrobe, stripped off his wig and makeup, and was pulling out of the parking lot did a production assistant stop him, saying Murphy had figured it out and wanted to keep going. "He had reworked the scene, reenvisioned it, repositioned us [to sitting at the corner of the bar]," he says, "but really it was just a testament of [Ryan knowing] exactly what he wants and he takes time to articulate that and create that. And I appreciated him... he really protected me and made sure that scene landed. And I think it did."
Watch the video above for more on how that scene became a pivotal point of reference for Pope and Archie, why he loved hanging out with extras, how he and Rock Hudson actor Jake Picking formed their crucial relationship, and more.
Listen to EW’s The Awardist podcast to get the latest Emmys scoop — interviews with Regina King, Ted Danson, Cate Blanchett, and more!
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