Going into Sunday’s ceremony, few in the industry would have predicted “The Night Manager” would wind up leading all TV winners, with three trophies.
But the AMC-BBC co-production pulled off upset victories in limited series/movie acting categories for star Tom Hiddleston and supporting players Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman. The surprise strength is in keeping with “Night Manager’s” unconventional path to airing on screens around the world.
The thriller based on the John Le Carre novel revolves around a former British soldier (Hiddleston) who becomes the manager of a luxury hotel in Cairo but winds up drawn into the shadowy world of underground arms dealers.
Hiddleston told reporters backstage that he spent a day and night working as manager of London’s high-end Rosewood Hotel to get a feel for his character. He learned that the hospitality business isn’t that far removed from the work of a thespian.
“It’s all theater,” he said. “Everything is immaculately managed to make the guest feel welcome. If you’re doing it well, they don’t see the work — which is very like acting.”
Laurie emphasized his appreciation for the work of director Susanne Bier, who helmed all six hours of the miniseries and earned an Emmy last September. Colman was working and not able to attend.
“Night Manager” was independently financed by the Ink Factory, the production company run by Le Carre’s sons, Simon Cornwell and Stephen Cornwell. They shopped it to TV buyers around the globe, financing the sizable production through pre-sales. Now the Ink Factory is enjoying the returns from after-market licensing and home video sales as it owns the show outright. And there is chatter about a sequel.
Hiddleston said subject matter of the illegal arms trade hit home for him recently when he was on a United Nations-sponsored trip to the South Sudan, where a brutal civil war has ravaged a generation.
“There are far too many arms going into the South Sudan,” he said. During that trip, he ran into a group of physicians working for the humanitarian org Doctors Without Borders, who told him they had just binge-watched “Night Manager.”
“The idea that I could provide any kind of entertainment for people working in that situation,” Hiddleston said wonderingly, bowing his head.