Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama
TV is the great democratic art form. The large majority of us have a TV. And it promotes conversation: the water-cooler effect, which has been well-documented. And it gets people talking. If something becomes part of the national conversation like “Homeland” does, I think it’s because it succeeds in being a thriller, a thrill ride, a white-knuckle ride. People like, it turns out, to be made to feel anxious on a Sunday night and get sweaty palms. Who knew? But it gets people’s pulses racing. And in this show in particular, it’s politically resonant, it’s politically current. I think it grounds it in reality, and I think people are responding to it for that reason.
Bryan Cranston from “Breaking Bad” won this Emmy Award for the past four years. How does it feel to break his winning streak?
I’ve just been getting know Bryan in the circus that is the pre-awards merry-go-round. What a sweet, lovely, funny man. I love him already. And I was quite convinced that he’d be walking up again tonight. I’ve also been catching up with “Breaking Bad,” mostly out of politeness. I just figure I should know what my competitors have been doing. But I meant what I said tonight. I don’t think you should judge art. Of course, I’m delighted to be a winner, but I’ve been to lots of awards shows where five guys get nominated, and five guys walk away with a little trophy. And that would really be my preference.
How are you and your “Homeland” co-star Claire Danes going to celebrate your Emmy wins?
[He says jokingly] We’re going to go away to a romantic island together just for the weekend. When [her] baby is ginger [red-haired], you guys are going to have a field day. [He says seriously] No, we’re going to do the craziness that’s out there. We’ll go to the party and hopefully spend time with the people I’ve loved getting to know over the past two years and working with, and just being a bit smug about the fact that we won an Emmy. And being with my wife [Helen McCrory], who just flew in from London yesterday to be here especially.
You’re British, but why do you think you’ve played so many Americans — such as in “Band of Brothers,” “Life” and “Homeland” — and Americans have responded so well to your performances?
I don’t know. I was lucky enough and I think irritating enough to be asked to play a World War II all-American hero and not be an American. People were very forgiving of that and luckily managed to win them over with the performance. And just being part of something that was so brilliant. You just mentioned a show that had a similar effect and continues to have a similar effect that “Homeland” has. I’m unbelievably lucky. It’s the material I’m lucky enough to have, and projects I’m lucky enough to be in. I got lucky.
How has your “Homeland” role impacted you as an actor and how you feel about Americans?
I’ve been coming to America since I was a 6-year-old boy. I had family that lived in Darien, Conn. My godfather and my father’s best friend was a professor at Yale University, so we’ve always been very connected to America. And my view of America hasn’t really changed. I have great friends here. I love being here.
I think there is a particular polarization in your political landscape at the moment, and I think there’s a problem socially between rich and poor. But hey, guess what? That’s the same in my country too. We’re all struggling a little bit at the moment.
I think what’s upsetting and what’s undeniable is 9/11 changed the world. And when people have not been at their best, they’ve behaved badly. And I mean us, I mean the West, I mean the Brits and Americans. But on the whole, we’re doing the best we can after an atrocity that changed the world 10 years ago.
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