Another year, another set of Emmy nominees! Join Wonderwall.com as we take a look at 20 fun or surprising facts you might not know (but should!) about some of our favorite 2020 Emmy nominees… starting with Zendaya. This year, the 23-year-old star received her first Emmy nomination: She's up for best actress in a drama for her performance as Rue Bennett on HBO's "Euphoria." It turns out it was meant to be, as the drama's creator, Sam Levinson, wanted the former Disney Channel star in the role long before she was cast. "Sam told me that I was on his vision board for Rue, which I thought was crazy," the "Spider Man" franchise star told Entertainment Weekly in 2019. "I was like, 'I don't believe you. What in my career have I done to prove that I can do this?' … I just really enjoyed … being able to take it there and finally prove, I think not only to people but to myself, that I can do it." Keep reading for more…
We love the Fab Five! Netflix's "Queer Eye" is up for multiple Emmys, and stars Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness are collectively nominated for best reality or competition program host. A particularly surprising fact, though? Antoni, the show's food and drink expert (and avocado aficionado), doesn't come from a culinary background. "Food was always something I loved, but I didn't go to school for it," he told Into The Gloss in 2019. "I actually studied psychology — I wanted to be an actor, and my parents really wanted me to go into medicine, so that was the happy medium." After graduating from college, Antoni moved to New York City to pursue acting. It was there he connected with a "Queer Eye" alum. "I was a waiter for a very long time, and then was a personal assistant for for Ted Allen, the original food and wine guy on 'Queer Eye [for the Straight Guy].' Even when I worked for Ted, food wasn't something I fantasized about pursuing — I'm not classically trained, and it was never part of the master plan."
For any "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" fan, it's hard to forget the iconic "Peeno Noir" music video performed by the one and only Tituss Burgess, who's nominated for best supporting actor in a limited series or movie for his work on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend." Turns out, that popular music video inspired a business endeavor — Tituss created his own brand of pinot noir wine! Pinot By Tituss was made available in March 2016.
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For her work as Mia Warren on Hulu's "Little Fires Everywhere," Kerry Washington earned an Emmy nomination for best actress in a limited series or TV movie. To prepare to play the single mother and bohemian artist, the "Scandal" star actually took art classes. She studied photography at the School of Light in Downtown Los Angeles and even shadowed artists including Alexandra Hedison and Lorna Simpson.
Mark Ruffalo earned an Emmy nod for best actor in a limited series or TV movie for his portrayal of twin brothers Dominick and Thomas Birdsey on HBO's "I Know This Much Is True," which focuses on the strained relationship between the siblings, one of whom is schizophrenic. According to Mark, he was able to relate to them namely because he had a brother of his own, Scott, who was murdered in 2008. "I knew the depth of a relationship between two brothers — me and my brother were what they call 'Italian twins,'" he told GQ. "We were barely a year apart. Family and siblings were always being pounded into us: 'Your blood is thicker than water, don't let that person come between us, your friends are temporary, your family is forever.'"
Apple TV+'s hit series "The Morning Show" received five acting Emmy nods including best actress in a drama for Jennifer Aniston, best actor in a drama for Steve Carell and best supporting actor in a drama for Mark Duplass. According to executive producer Reese Witherspoon, the idea for the series was modified in the wake of the #MeToo movement. "When we started, the show was just a book, and nothing had happened with Harvey Weinstein or Les Moonves yet," Reese told Harper's Bazaar in 2019. "The Roger Ailes scandal had happened the year before. Then, in October 2017, all those stories started to break about the way women in media were treated. We decided we needed to start from square one and redevelop everything with more of a slant about the truth coming out in media and people being held accountable for their behavior." Reese went on to explain how integrating the stories of real women who endured abuse was an emotional experience. "I can't even imagine what it must have been like to be the spouse or the child of one of these people who was exposed. With the men, we ask, Where is the contrition? How are they supposed to behave? We deal with all of these questions as the season goes on."
While he's known for his phenomenal dramatic performances, Adam Driver is also skilled in comedy. The "Marriage Story" best actor Oscar nominee earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actor in a comedy for his work on the Jan. 25, 2020, episode of "Saturday Night Live." That wasn't Adam's first time hosting the late-night laughs showcase — he's done it twice prior! But Adam was praised for his most recent "SNL" stint, with many critics saying it was his best turn at hosting yet.
Netflix's dark comedy series "Dead to Me" earned Emmy nods for the acting work of its two leads, Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, and a best comedy nod. The actresses grew incredibly close while filming the series, and after they'd film a scene, the cameras would continue to roll to let the pair improvise! "They did some incredible improv which was just right, spur of the moment. They just kept going, we didn't yell cut and some of those moments are my favorite moments of the show," said "Dead to Me" creator Liz Feldman during an interview with BUILD by Yahoo!
"Killing Eve" star Sandra Oh — who earned her third best actress in a drama Emmy nomination for her work on the show in 2020 — didn't at first realize she was being considered for the lead titular role when she was reading the script. During an interview with Vulture via HuffPost in 2018, the former "Grey's Anatomy" star recalled a conversation with her agent, Nancy Gates, regarding the part. "I was quickly scrolling down the script, and I can't really tell you what I was looking for. So I'm like, 'So, Nancy, I don't understand, what's the part?'" said Sandra. "And Nancy goes, 'Sweetheart, it's Eve, it's Eve.' In that moment, I did not assume the offer was for Eve. I think about that moment a lot. Of just going, how deep have I internalized this? [So] many years of being seen [a certain way], it deeply, deeply, deeply affects us. It's like, how does racism define your work?" While chatting with Vanity Fair, Sandra also shared how she felt brainwashed by the industry to feel unfit as a central character. "Young Asian people who come up to me have a certain vibration, and I receive it, and I understand it, and I feel emotional just talking about it," she said. "I'm here for you. And I'll continue doing everything I can to fill something that I know you need right now, that we don't yet have as a community."
Fans can't get enough of "Normal People" star Paul Mescal, which is why we weren't surprised to hear that the Irish actor received an Emmy nomination for best actor in a limited series or TV movie for his performance on the Hulu hit. Paul, who plays Connell, was the first lead to be cast, though the process of finding his co-star was a bit lengthier. When he finally met Daisy Edgar-Jones for the first time, he knew she was the right fit for Marianne. "When Daisy walked into the room for the chemistry read, I immediately thought: 'That's who I imagined Marianne to look like," he told The Guardian in 2020.
"Insecure," one of HBO's most celebrated shows, received eight Emmy nominations this year! A particular aspect of the series that has long been praised? Its stellar soundtrack, which often features Black artists on the rise. Fun fact: Earlier on the series, Solange Knowles, who was introduced to Issa Rae by Melina Matsoukas, served as the show's music consultant.
The sci-fi horror series "Stranger Things" earned an Emmy nomination for best drama. Famously set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the '80s, the show's third season, which hit Netflix in 2019, featured a mall that looked straight out of the decade. It turns out that these scenes were filmed at an actual shopping center — Gwinnett Place Mall in Atlanta — that was built in 1984, a year before the third season takes place! "You'd be shocked at the number of malls, particularly derelict malls, in the area," production designer Chris Trujillo told the Los Angeles Times. "It's a massive mall that's slowly been collapsing on itself for probably the 30 years it's existed." He went on, "You could see the echoes of what had been an incredibly '80s showpiece mall atrium."
Veteran actress Holland Taylor received a nomination for best supporting actress in a limited series or movie for her performance as Ellen Kincaid on Netflix's "Hollywood." Set in the 1940s, the show also highlights the stunning fashion of the decade — and while some characters' styles were inspired by icons like James Dean and Marlon Brando, the inspiration for Holland's character was derived from her own mother! Yup, turns out Miss Ellen Kincaid's costumes were inspired by photographs of Holland's mother, Virgina.
Kieran Culkin, who's nominated for best supporting actor in a drama for his work as Roman Roy on "Succession," was initially supposed to read for a different character. "The way that this came to be is the script was sent to me to read for the character of Greg (played by Nicholas Braun)," Kieran told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018. "I didn't feel like I clicked with that character, but I liked the script enough to continue reading." He was particularly drawn to Roman. "There was something that clicked with me and this character that's something I still don't understand, and probably don't want to understand, considering the kind of guy he is."
It's no surprise that "Schitt's Creek," which aired its final episode in April 2020, earned several Emmy nods this year including best actor in a comedy for Eugene Levy and best supporting actor in a comedy for Dan Levy, his son and co-creator. When asked on "Watch What Happens Live" what his favorite episode of the series was, Eugene cited the one where Patrick (Noah Reid) comes out to his parents. That season 5 episode, which is entitled "Meet the Parents," was written by Dan, who also earned an Emmy nod for best writing for a comedy series for the series finale ep titled "Happy Ending."
How we love Dev Patel! The beloved British actor earned an Emmy nomination for his work on an episode of the Amazon Video anthology series "Modern Love." The romantic comedy series isn't fictionalized either — each episode is based on stories from the popular column of the same name that's in The New York Times! In the episode entitled "When Cupid Is a Prying Journalist," which is based on a 2015 essay, Dev plays Joshua, a dating app creator who's still in love with his ex-girlfriend.
"The Good Place" star D'Arcy Carden, who plays Janet — a corporeal Siri or Alexa — received an Emmy nod for best supporting actress in a comedy for her work on the NBC series. Among all the actresses who auditioned, creator Michael Schur said D'Arcy brought something special to the character — she humanized her. "She made the robotic language that I had written for the dummy scene seem like a real person was doing it," he told Vanity Fair in 2018. "She found this weird humanity inside this robotic scene."
Ron Cephas Jones earned his second Emmy nod in 2020 for his work as Randall Pearson's biological father, William, on "This Is Us." As for what drew Ron to the role? "I think how they wrote an African American character was even more special, in the layers. He wasn't one-dimensional," he told Deadline in 2017. "I was very attracted to that and very honored to be able to give some light to this character. I felt he was very close to characters that August Wilson wrote. I felt like he was like James Baldwin, or Bayard Rustin, or Billy Strayhorn, especially in lieu of the fact that you find out he has a gay lover."
While she'll always be Renata Klein to us, Laura Dern — who received an Emmy nod for best supporting actress in a drama for her work on "Big Little Lies" — identifies more with another member of the Monterey Five. "I probably was Jane," she told Vulture in 2019. Rest assured — Laura still loves her character! "If we ever did it again, and it gets in me even a little bit more, I'm becoming Renata. Because I so agree with her on so many fronts. I think we all need Renata in us somewhere."
Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Tony McNamara — who earned an Oscar nod in 2019 for writing "The Favourite" — can now add Primetime Emmy Award nominee to his list of accomplishments! Tony, who earned a best comedy series writing nod for his work on the Hulu period show "The Great," revealed his intentions for the dramedy about Russia's longest serving female ruler, Catherine the Great: He didn't want the show to be like a history lesson. "Catherine was a great leader who took over running Russia," said Tony, as reported by Creative Screenwriting. "We wanted to make a contemporary comedy-drama about her life."