Nathan Lane Is Ready to Make Even More History After the 2022 Emmy Nominations
Amidst a flurry of record-breaking Emmys mornings for the likes of Zendaya (youngest producing nominee) and Quinta Brunson (first Black woman with three comedy nods in the same year), Tony-winner Nathan Lane became the most-nominated performer in the history of the comedy-guest-actor category.
That’s all thanks to his role as scheming deli maestro Teddy Dimas on Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building, which earned 17 nominations, including Lane’s sixth nod for guest actor in a comedy. “I just started receiving some texts today, and I was just thrilled and delighted,” Lane tells Vanity Fair of learning the news.
The 66-year-old’s recognition—alongside actors including Bill Hader, Jerrod Carmichael, and Sam Richardson—is especially meaningful given his character’s sinister side. “It was kind of a big surprise, because when I was asked to do the show,” he says, “I had imagined it was just going to be comedy—and to get to work with Marty [Short] and Steve [Martin] would be lovely. And then, the character turned out to be a much darker one than I had imagined. I was asked to learn ASL for certain scenes because I had a deaf son, and it was far more complicated and challenging. It was really exciting to work on.”
Lane is nominated for his work in OMITB’s standout seventh episode, “The Boy from 6B,” which heavily features ASL. If Lane’s jubilation about his nomination is tempered, it’s by the omission of his costar in that episode. “The only disappointing thing about this is that James Caverly’s name was not among the nominees, the young actor who played my son,” Lane tells me. “Because I just think he’s such an extraordinary young actor and did such a beautiful job.” Caverly would have been the first deaf actor ever honored in the category. “I think of this nomination as for the both of us,” Lane says of his scene partner, “since so much of what I had to do was about that particular relationship in the show.”
Teddy and Caverly’s Theo reenter Only Murders in the second season’s fourth episode, which dropped on Hulu today. What begins as a confrontational scene—between Teddy, now strapped with an ankle monitor and confined to house arrest in the Arconia, and Short’s character—morphs into something more scandalous. “As the season goes on, there’s a big surprise that happens between my character and Marty’s,” Lane teases.
Given that the show was just recently renewed for a third season, it’s unclear if Lane returns, although he appears to be on board. “Look, it’s always a pleasure to be there,” he says. “It’s such a happy place, and that all stems from Steve and Marty and Selena [Gomez]. And John Hoffman, the showrunner, he’s such an upbeat and supportive gentleman. And you feel like you can cry or do anything, and he’s a real cheerleader.” Lane will reprise his role as snobbish social climber Ward McAllister when HBO’s The Gilded Age returns. “The second season of The Gilded Age is certainly very juicy,” he says. “Many twists and turns.”
Lane’s previous nominations come from episodes of Modern Family, Mad About You, and Frasier—plus one in the drama-guest-actor lineup for The Good Wife. Does Lane find himself reflecting on any of these building blocks in his road to Emmy history? “Well, I haven’t,” he says with a laugh. “It sounds a little like Norma Desmond.” Lane then breaks into an impression of the diva: “Max, Max, run the Modern Family episodes again. I want to see my work as Pepper Saltzman!”
Despite his many nominations, Lane has yet to win. The actor concedes that “it’s a thrill just to be invited to the party and be in the conversation” given the breadth of worthy TV shows. Still, he has to be itching to give an acceptance speech, right? “Seven nominations for the Primetime Emmy, which is…you hope it doesn’t turn into Susan Lucci,” Lane quips.