While Sunday’s BAFTA TV Awards spurned one of this year’s strongest Emmy contenders, “The Crown,” it celebrated two of last year’s top nominees, “The Night Manager” and “The People vs. O.J. Simpson.” Representing the latter, which won Best International Program, was Cuba Gooding Jr. who played the fallen football star in the Emmy-winning limited series.
Backstage, I asked him if winning awards still brings the same level of excitement it did when he won the Oscar two decades ago for “Jerry Maguire.” “Yes,” came his smiling response. “It is everything. I box, I’ve been boxing for 25 years and whenever you finish a bout of three rounds, especially if you got hurt, and then somebody says ‘you won, that was amazing’ – you almost want to cry because you’re like ‘I survived.’”
The actor compared this notion of winning a boxing match to winning an award: “You go through this rollercoaster of anger, then fear, then whatever. That’s what an awards show is like. You walk into the carpet and people say ‘congratulations, good luck’ and then it’s either ‘oh, you lost’ or ‘you won, well done.’ All of your emotions are on your fingertips – thats how I feel every time I walk on to that stage.”
While this American import was only eligible for that one BAFTA, “The Night Manager” was expected to be a strong contender across the board as it had been at the Emmys. However, it was snubbed save for a lone bid for supporting actor Tom Hollander. He prevailed against two of the featured players on “The Crown” — Jared Harris (King George VI) and John Lithgow (Winston Churchill) — as well as Daniel Mays from the red-hot police drama “Line of Duty.”
I asked the actor, who has appeared in a wide range of projects from “Pirates of the Caribbean” to “Gosford Park” to “Pride and Prejudice,” how highly “The Night Manager” ranked on his filmography. “They are all very special when you do me – this one has just become very visible. There are things that I’m very attached to that I’ve done in the past – I did a little film about Dylan Thomas a few years ago [“A Poet in New York”]. That was probably the most fulfilling part that I’ve done on screen.”
He continued to explain that “The Night Manager’s” popularity ensures it sticks out amongst other things on his CV: “This was, yes, very visible and glamorous and, socially, very happy as well – I had a really fun time making it. And then it was received rapturously by the audience – all that is amazing and it’s just gone on and on, which is unusual. But you do tend to love the job you’re doing or the one you’ve just done. They are all brilliant, really.”
Hollander considered each question carefully and was quite a serious man, in fact – certainly much more than Michael McIntyre who won Best Entertainment Performance for “Michael McIntyre’s Big Show,. He treated the press room as a mini auditorium for his stand up routine, conjuring laughs from the assembled members of the press with ease. I asked him about his favorite aspect of this freewheeling variety series: “There were so many unexpected things on this show, that was really fun. It’s fun for me to be in a show where it’s not all about me – it’s about, you know, suddenly this guy in a sink has stolen the whole show. That was tremendous fun.”
McIntyre continued to bobble his way through questions, his answers littered with anecdotes and musings; all of which hilarious. But the funniest moment of the night, in the press room at least, came from Ant & Dec, who won two awards tonight; the first for Best Live Event for “The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration” and the second for “Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway” for Best Entertainment Programme. While speaking about the latter with their producers, Ant pointed that Dec was the only one without a beard. “Did you miss the memo about beards, Dec?” he said. “No, she’s in the audience,” came the response.
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on July 13. Read more entertainment news and join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums.