Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
You seemed shocked that you won an Emmy. Why?
I've been neutral about this whole thing. I've been nominated a bunch of times ... enough times not to lean toward it, not to hope too much. You're glad to be invited to the party. There were six of us nominated [in this category]. There could have easily been 10 other guys that could have been where we are.
It's a really crowded time to be in television. It's a great time to be in television. So I felt the work stood up to what the other guys were doing, but we're all doing different things, so it's anybody's game, really. I was happy to win, but surprised, because it could have been anybody.
Can you address winning an Emmy at this stage in your career? And are you going to put it next to the AARP award that you mentioned in your acceptance speech?
[I did get from the AARP] a little golden barcalounger. [He says jokingly I use it to hold my meds. I mentioned to my wife that we're going to have to move [the Emmy Award] right next to the [AARP award]. I don't win much. I meant a lot, and I was glad to get it.
My dad told me years ago, "You know, I think you're going to grow into your face. It might happen later for you." He ran a lumber company, so what he know about entertainment? But he was right. I grew into my face.
How are you going to be celebrating tonight?
We're going to party 'til dawn. And then I'm going to get on a plane and go to Atlanta and start shooting "Dumb and Dumber 2." The intellectual freefall from Will McAvoy to Harry Dunne, imagine if you will.
You tweeted that "The Newsroom" has been renewed for a third season. We're still waiting for a formal announcement from HBO. Where do things stand?
We're going to come back. We just don't know when yet. And they're trying to work it out with Aaron [Sorkin, creator/executive producer of "The Newsroom"] and HBO on when they want to air it. I was about to do "Leno," and I said, "What's up? What if it comes up? What do I say?" And they said, "Say you're absolutely coming back; you just don't know when." So that's what I tweeted.
Has your opinion of the news media changed now that you're a fake member of that community?
A fictional member. I've had great respect for these guys, all the major networks, especially when it's breaking news. That's when they earn their money, because they've got to get it right on the fly. And it's not easy to do. They're competing with the Internet. They're competing with Twitter, which is not a source.
They're all struggling to get it right. They're all struggling to tell the good stories, not just Casey Anthony, week after week because of ratings. And they don't always win that battle. Sometimes corporate wins.
So I've had a lot of the major guys say, "Thanks for showing that struggle." They're at least trying to deal with it and they struggle with putting the good stories, the stories they need to know, on the air. I'm glad we're illuminating that.
In the second season [of "The Newsroom"], we screwed up. Other guys who've gone too early and then had to walk it back. It happens. I admire what they're doing, but I admire the tightrope that they're on. No safety net.
How did it feel to be a ficitional newscaster talking about civilians being gassed in Syria when it was happening in real life?
Aaron does such a great job about writing things that are still in the news. I think he'd be the first to say that we got lucky, as far has having something that was going on in Syria that we were also dealing with on the show. He's very good about that. He's very smart about that. It only kind of put more of a spotlight on the show.
The pacing of "The Newsroom" is very fast. Can you talk about that environment and how it's created?
Every two weeks, we get 80 to 85 pages of Sorkin. There are not a lot of scenes where you walk around the corner and gom "Look out!" Cut. You have speeches. You have rat-a-tat-tat of rhythm that has to go with the other two people in the scene.
You have to spend your whole weekend memorizing the whole next week for seventh months, in order to make it look like the 100th performance of the play. That's what we wanted it to feel like, just falling out of our heads, that we're smart people saying smart things on our minds out of our mouths at a very fast pace. That's the trick.
And I tell the cast, "At 6 in the morning, every day, know it, and know what you're going to do with it." There's none of this film-actor thing. I've done it myself, where you kind of walk on, and you're memorizing it as you walk to the set. That doesn't cut it with Aaron. You won't survive.
So they did a very smart thing, which was hiring several New York theater actors: Alison [Pill], Johnny Gallagher, [Thomas] Sadoski, Sam [Waterston], Marcia Gay Harden, Hope [Davis]. We're not intimidated by a lot of words. We can't ad lib. We don't improvise.
Even when we interrupt each other, the hyphen, you go right to that word. It's very precise. We work hard at it to make it as natural and spontaneous and yet still written because there's nothing wrong with that. Paddy Chayefsky was in every scene in "Network." And I love the fact that Aaron Sorkin is in every scene in "The Newsroom."
What is the scariest and best thing that you're looking forward to doing in "Dumb and Dumber 2"?
There are things that we're going to do in "Dumb and Dumber 2" that make the toilet scene look lame — pales in comparison. I can't divulge what, just that they've topped it. And the best thing about it? I get to work with a comedic genius [Jim Carrey].