This is just an unofficial fan page, we have no connection
to any shows or networks.
Please click here to vote for our site!
Interview with Emily Nelson of "True
This was my first one-on-one
interview, so I was very nervous. It turned out fine, much
to my relief. She was a pleasure to talk to. I really
You can listen to the interview
you prefer audio.
Here is the transcript of our call:
Krista: How are you doing today?
Iím good. I mean, this is going to sound absurd, but
Iím cold even though Iím in Los Angeles. (both laugh) I know
I got no right to say that.
Krista: Well, itís cold and
Is it? Where are you at?
Iím in Alabama.
Oh, boy. Oh yeah.
done nothing but rain for the past three days.
one more time, sorry.
Krista: I said, itís done nothing
but rain for past three days.
Oh man, yeah, weíve had
a lot of rain, too. I mean, we needed it, so nobody is really
complaining. Iím like bailing out the side of the foundation
of my house because thereís so much water.
Right, well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak
with me today.
Ditto! Thank you for talking to me.
Krista: Well, my name is Krista, and Iím with The TV
MegaSite. I have a few questions Iíd like to ask.
Krista: First of all, I saw that you started by making
your way through the Chicago theatre circuit and then moved
to Los Angeles to pursue TV and movie roles. Did you enjoy
working in the theatre circuit, and did you always plan to
continue to pursue TV and movie roles?
I sure did
love it. I grew up right outside Chicago, so I started going
down to Second City when I was fifteen. I started taking classes
there and trying to perform. I got caught up in the Chicago
theatre scene pretty early. I left to go to college and
actually went to New York for four years. I did theatre in New
York for 4 years, and then I came back to Chicago. I had
actually planned to make Chicago a two-year sort of stopping
point, until I moved to Los Angeles because I wanted to kind
of get my ducks in a row to pursue film and television
acting. I knew a lot of people in Los Angeles who were very
talented but couldnít get work. It was very hard to
get into the business. I learned a lot from different people
out here, and so I made sure I was in the union. I had
credits; I had good reviews in the newspaper, so I used
Chicago theatre to do all that. Chicago theatre is some of
the best theatre in the country. People are highly
intelligent. Thereís a great audience year round, even when
thereís a snow storm - itís incredible. But for me, there was
a bit of a glass ceiling back then. Now thereís more
production there, so I think people are making a better
living as actors in Chicago. Yes, so my two years turned into
years because I got a bit seduced by the fantastic theatre
in Chicago. I wasnít quite ready to leave.
Krista: I can
understand that. Well, what are some of the similarities and
differences between theatre and TV/movie roles?
Thatís a really good question. OK, this may, I donít know,
so you tell me if this translates. I also talk about it that
acting is like a sock, in one direction its theatre; you
turn it inside out and now its film and television. The
impulse is the same. The impulse to communicate and connect
as a character, to fight for something, to need something,
thatís all the same. But whatís different is that in theatre
I have time and space. I have the actual space of the
theatre. I have to project my voice out front to connect
with people who are there. I can hear them, they have a sort
of feedback that is happening, but in film and television I
donít have any time. Things move very quickly, you get no
rehearsal almost, 99% of the time. Youíre shooting the
rehearsal. There is no feedback because everybody is very
quiet on set. If youíre doing comedy, you donít know if itís
funny till much later, and itís much more intimate. Now I
have a microphone on, and Iím just talking to the person in
front of me, and now I donít have to use my body or gestures
to communicate. All that effort kind of has to drain out of
my body. I have to come down to a very simple (person to
kind of conversation, and so thatís how Iíd explain the
difference, if that makes sense.
Krista: Ok, that sounds,
I mean, I can kind of see that, especially if youíre on stage
and having to project your voice, and the differences there.
Yeah, and I mean, like, in the theatre, you get the
whole script. You know, you get rehearsal time and you can
collaborate. You spend weeks and weeks rehearsing something,
and some films do that, but most television shows donít.
Television and film are very lonely for most actors. You get
sent part of a script for an audition, you prepare it by
yourself, you have no idea what the people youíre working
with are looking for, you prepare it, you go into an
audition, and you say, "Hello, how are you," maybe thereís a tiny
bit of conversation about what youíre doing, but almost
always, no. You do the audition, you leave, and then you find
out whether or not you got the part. Then you show up for a
table read, which is not a rehearsal. You can get fired at a
table read. Itís a kind of performance, and then you start
filming the show. Sometimes film and television actors like
to rehearse, and sometimes they donít because they want to
keep everything fresh and alive because they donít know how
many takes theyíre going to have to do of something. So,
thereís different approaches. Film and television acting is
very quick and is very singular; and (with) theatre, usually you have
much more space, and much more community. So I think those
are the big differences.
Krista: So how did you get the
role of Margaret on "True Detective," and what drew you to this
Um, I got, it was a regular audition
through my manager and my agent. I was very excited because
Vicki Thomas was the casting director, and if you ever look
up her credits, she is, she has cast an incredible amount
of fantastic actors; so to be included in her roster is
really just a thrill. They did not give us the script. I
only had a very tiny section of one scene for my audition,
so I really didnít know that much about it, but I knew that
Season 1, and then the creative writer is so fantastic and
attracts such great talent. I donít know anybody who doesnít
want to work on this show, so I was very excited, although I
had no idea what I was getting into. And I did like the
character. The character of Margaret... I am drawn to
characters who are very broken but have a shred of hope
Krista: Just to build from that, what has been
your biggest challenge in playing the part of Margaret, and
what has been your favorite moment?
Emily: The biggest
challenge, um, I think the biggest challenge was sort of
not knowing the larger story of how Margaret is involved.
That just required a lot of sort of faith and creating
things in my own imagination to fill in what was happening,
which you always have to do as an actor, but um, honestly,
there wasnít that much challenging about it. And my favorite
moment, gosh, oh, it was so great, hard to pin down. I think
it was working with Carmen (Ejogo, Amelia). Carmen and I had a really great
long scene and she is such a fantastic actress. She is
(inaudible), she invited me to come and rehearse, and so the
two of us had a fantastic rehearsal process before we did
the scene, and I think it really shows in the final work. So
I think working with Carmen was my favorite.
ok, alright, and for those who havenít watched the show yet,
can you tell them a little bit about Season 3 and what to
Sure, Season 3 revolves around the
disappearance of two kids and the community that is
eventually torn apart over this tragedy. It takes place over
the course of three, maybe more, different decades. There are
different timelines happening. The detectives in this case
are played by Stephen Dorff and Mehershala Ali. In it are
questions about memory, about aging, about self protection...
itís such a deeply-layered mystery on so many levels that
itís gonna hold anyoneís attention.
Krista: Ok, What is
it like to work with Mahershala Ali?
best. He is magnanimous. When he comes on set, he takes time
to come over and say hello to everyone heís working with... he
shakes your hand. He gives you all of his focus and
attention, and it just makes you feel ten feet tall. He and I
didnít have any direct lines together, but we have some
pretty powerful looks in the scenes we were in together, and
you know, a lot of times thatís more than anything. And heís
just-- he is just a smooth operator. Watching him work was
just fantastic. Heís really kind.
Krista: Itís always
good when you can work with somebody and have that kind of,
um, that kind of camaraderie with the people youíre working
It is. Everybody that Iíve worked with made
the whole-- made acting easy. I mean, we were on location. The
costumes were fantastic, the set decoration and design was
fantastic. The script flowed, and so there was just, I donít
know, it just wasnít that difficult to be able to step into
this world and kind of let it grow around us.
Right. And for the other cast members, do you get along well
with them, and do you ever hang out with
them off set?
(Laugh) We did
get along very well, but no, I donít hang out. I worked with
Mamie Gummer (Lucy) and Scoot (McNairy, Tom). I saw them at the premiere, which
was a really fun, to get together again... but no, I donít even
think Scoot lives in town, and Mamieís about to have a baby,
so sheís been pretty busy.
Krista: I can imagine. What
actor or actress would you most like to work with that you
havenít been able to work with yet?
Krista: Yeah, I think, I think that would be a good one,
Krista: That sounds likeÖ
Iíve got a long list. Donít get me wrong, but she
teeters there at the top.
Krista: Right, I can
understand that. What are your plans once "True Detective"
wraps up? Do you have anything else in the works you can
tell us about?
Um, not at the moment, that I think--
I donít think I can announce anything just yet, but you
know, Iím an actor. Iím auditioning all the time; actors are
constantly out of work, so Iím forever looking for the next
project. Even when I have one going on, Iím looking for the
next one. Itís just a constant job interview, one after
Krista: Yeah, I can imagine. I guess that would
get pretty stressful sometimes, having to interview for jobs
and all that kind of stuff... but at the same time, I know
itís got to be rewarding too.
Yeah, well, you
know, I think itís like a new normal. I think, like, if you
had to jump in and just do it, and it is stressful
sometimes, but I think actors are funny because if we donít
have auditions, then weíre REALLY stressed. And if we do
have a lot of auditions, itís difficult, but we do our best
to get it done and hope that the work weíre putting in is,
you know, of high quality; and the truth is, itís a
subjective industry. Somebody might like your take one day
and not like it the next day. Like, you know, at the level
Iím at, everybody is talented. Itís just a matter of what
kind of story theyíre telling, or what strikes the producers
or the directors any which way, any particular day. So you
just do your work, cross your fingers, hope for the best,
and hope that the audience connects to what youíre doing.
But actors donít have a ton of control (laugh) of our
careers. (Inaudible) that goes on.
Krista: Right. Well,
I just have a couple more questions. What was your favorite
role youíve played so far?
Um, I did an episode
of "Cold Case" years ago that was written by Liz Garcia, and I
played a character named Martha Potts. She was a cold case,
and in the course of that hour, it was like, her life began,
and her life ended, all at once. It was almost like an opera.
She just went through so many crazy things. She killed some
people, she got killed.... like, all this crazy stuff happened.
She falls in love, she turns to a life of crime, she gets
out of a life of crime, (uh, spoiler alert, uh, so, maybe cut
that part out, donít print everything that happens in the
episode -- lauughs). It was just really exciting to live such a
full life in just one episode of television, it doesnít
happen that often.
Krista: Yeah, thatís one thing that
is amazing to me sometimes in television shows -- how they
can show so much that happens all in one episode.
Yeah, it is. Itís really amazing.
Krista: Well, the last
question I have is: when youíre not on set, what do you like
to do in your spare time?
Uh, well, Iím also an
acting teacher, and I have a studio where I teach private
students at in Los Angeles. I have two siberian huskies who
take up a lot of my time, and Iím thoroughly obsessed with
them. They have their own Instagram, of course, um, side-hobby these days. I spend a lot of time at the dog park
because they require a ton of exercise. I love to garden. I
volunteer for different things. I swear, I always feel like
these are the kind of questions (that) as soon as I hang up the
phone, Iím like, ďWait, no, I do this and this.Ē What do I
do? I donít know, I sell skin care (products); I do just a thousand
different things. I live in Los Angeles, I get to go outside
a lot, I get to go hiking (which is great). I love libraries;
I canít get enough of the library.
Krista: I can
understand that. I love to read.
Do you? Me, too...
I just canít get enough, and oddly enough, I do like to hang
out at cemeteries which people think Iím crazy. Cemeteries
in LA are the only... Iím from the Midwest, as you mentioned,
and cemeteries are the only place that has, you know, lawns...
itís quiet there. You can have a quiet afternoon among big
trees and it feels like the Midwest, you know?
Yeah, and what kinds of books do you like to read?
Oooh, I like to read... non-fiction. I like to read about
physics. I love books about witches. I donít know why, but
Iíll read pretty much any book you bring me about a witch. I
love fiction. I just finished reading "Lincoln in the Bardo,"
which I was late getting to, but boy, was that a good book.
Have you read that?
Krista: I havenít.
check it out. It is unlike anything Iíve ever read. You know,
I like to kind of keep my ears peeled, like, if someone
recommends a book. I have, like, a local bookstore thatís an
independent chain, and theyíre really great.... and you can
wander around and say, "Hey what should I read?" and they
always turn me on to something I would not have found
Krista: Sometimes those can be the best ones.
Right. Thatís what I think.
Krista: I also
love that you love dogs. I have a poodle.
do? A standard poodle, a big one?
Krista: No, heís
actually... on his papers, heís registered as a toy, but he is a
little bit bigger than a toy. He weighs about 16 pounds, so
heís more like the size of a miniature.
so cute. What color is he?
Krista: Heís cream.
Ohhh. Oh, my goodness, thatís so cute. One of my best friends
has a brown standard poodle. And he is just such a good dog.
Heís all about the ball, though, man. That dog could chase a
ball 24/7 given the opportunity.
Krista: Well, mine, he
is pretty laid back. Heís actually cream, but his dad was
red, and his mom was black.
Krista: So he
has the tint of red from his mom, but he also has some black
hairs in there, if you look really close.
interesting. My dogs are sisters, too, and their dad was
red/white, and their mom was all white, and theyíve come out--
they were, like, light gray and white, when they were puppies,
but now theyíre getting a lot more gray, and their fur is--
particularly one of them -- her fur is black-tipped, so when
you rub your hand through her fur, itís white underneath... but
just the tips are black. Itís so pretty.
I know, Iím obsessed.
Krista: How old are yours?
Um, theyíre just 11 months.
Krista: Aw, so
theyíre still puppies.
They are. I mean, Iím
thinking theyíre full grown... Iím hoping theyíre full grown.
I mean, theyíre stronger than I am at this point. We go to
the dog park, and theyíre like, good on the walk, 90% of the
time, and then every now and then, they decide to go bananas,
and Iím like, getting dragged down the street, you know? So
weíre working on it.
Krista: Yeah, yeah. Well, mine just
turned-- Well, he will be 9 this year.
thatís so great. 9... awesome years. I love it!
Yeah, weíve had him since he was almost a year old.
Yeah, well because as an actor I moved around so much,
and my hours were always so crazy, that I just couldnít get a
dog, you know? And so now Iím a little more settled here in
California, and if I leave for a job, my boyfriend can take
care of the dog... but it took me a long time to get settled
enough to be able to have big dogs, you know.
Iím glad you finally got to get one 'cause they sure are a
lot of company.
Right, like, I canít believe I went
this long. It is amazing the amount of love that comes from
them. Like, Iíll just stand in my living room sometimes and
listen to the giggles. To hear my mom giggle is the cutest
thing. Itís just like, they make everybody laugh and smile,
and sometimes I think, "How quiet the house would be if they
Krista: Mmmhmm. I can relate to that.
Krista: Well, thank you so much for talking
with me today. Itís been a pleasure to speak with you. I
hope you have a good rest of your day, and I look forward to
watching the rest of "True Detective."
Thank you so
much. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I really
Krista: Youíre very welcome. And thank
you so much.
Ok, have a great day Krista.
Krista: You too, bye.
An acting chameleon,
"Superstore," "Glow," and MADE OF HONOR), stars as
the ominous, working class neighbor 'Margaret' opposite
Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (MOONLIGHT) in the
8-episdoe third season of HBO's critically acclaimed
anthology crime drama "True Detective," (airs on
Sunday's at 9:00pm on HBO) created by Nic
Pizzolatto. Season three marks Pizzolatto's directorial
debut and takes place in
the Ozarks over three separate time periods, as
partner detectives 'Wayne Hays' (Mahershala Ali) and
'Roland West' (Stephen Dorff) investigate a macabre
crime involving two missing children, a brother and
sister named Will and Julie Purcell.
HBO's "True Detective" Trailer:
Nelson is seemingly everywhere
and then some right now. In 2018 alone, she starred
alongside William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum in Showtime's
"Shameless," opposite Alison Brie in the Emmy-nominated
Netflix series "Glow," and NBC's critically acclaimed
comedy "Superstore" starring America Ferrera. Prior to
"True Detective," Nelson was
best known for her scene stealing performance opposite
Patrick Dempsey as one of Hannah's (Michelle Monaghan)
bridesmaids 'Hilary' in the romantic comedy MADE OF
HONOR directed by Paul Weiland.
Born in Massachusetts, Nelson
became a performer at an early age and graduated with a
B.F.A. from the prestigious drama department of Carnegie
Mellon University. After graduation,
Nelson made her way through the professional
Chicago theater circuit before moving to Los Angeles,
where she immediately began booking prominent
guest-starring roles on major television series
including "Superstore," "Cold Case," "Without a Trace,"
"Boston Legal," "The Mentalist," "Bones," and "Code
Black," to name a few. Emily's stage credits include
leading roles in plays such as Cooking with Elvis,
Home Free! and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man
in the Moon Marigolds, to name a few.
When she's not busy in front of the camera,
Nelson teaches and mentors other
emerging artists with The David Kagan Studio,
International Academy of Film and Television, Young
Storytellers, Urban Anthropology Project, Creative Youth
Community Learning Experience, The Shanti Foundation for
Peace, Society for the Education of the Arts, The
National Shakespeare Company, Actor's Creative
Experience, Strike Anywhere! Improvisation, The Florida
Studio Theatre and The Island Players. She
now owns and operates her own acting studio, ACEN.
Back to the Main Articles
Back to the Main Primetime TV Page
We need more episode guide recap writers, article
writers, MS FrontPage and Web Expression users, graphics designers, and more, so
please email us
if you can help out! More volunteers always
Page updated 2/22/19