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‘All the Way’ Director Jay Roach Remembers First Emmy Wins For ‘Recount’

Jay Roach may be known for blockbuster comedies such as “Meet the Parents” and the “Austin Powers” franchise, but he also makes an immense impact during TV’s annual awards season. He already has two Emmys for directing HBO political dramas “Recount” (in 2008) and “Game Change” (in 2012) and another pair for producing the telepic champs. It’s another election year, and Roach is once again on the ballot for directing a HBO political drama: the LBJ biopic “All the Way.” ARYA ROSHANIAN

What stands out about that first Emmy win?
I remember being unbelievably nervous. I’m always a little panicky when it comes to public speaking. But what I remember most is that Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart were the presenters, and made a joke about eating prunes and it made me laugh so hard. They’re two of my biggest heroes, I didn’t believe it. I also remember that I wanted to make sure that I could articulate the intense gratitude without being boring. Sydney Pollack in particular — he backed me in making the movie. You’re just so overwhelmed by gratitude.

Do you remember anyone unexpected congratulating you?
One of the most memorable things was when Steven Spielberg came up to me, because I wasn’t expecting him to pay attention to me. It meant a lot that he had come up to me and had specific comments to say.

You’ve won four Emmys. Did you ever think you’d win one, let alone four?
[Laughs.] No, because the kinds of films I’ve been drawn to recently are political in nature. They could be perceived as somewhat dry from the outside. When I won my first award, I was so astonished. My next thought was, “I wonder if I could make more of these movies.”

All the Way” star Bryan Cranston won for “Breaking Bad” that same year. Did you know him at the time?
No, I met him that year. It was a lucky time to be within the award circuit. I met him for the first time at an Emmy function. In a way, being invited to that party was a blessing.

Does an optimistic political movie like “All the Way” have a special appeal to Emmy voters in this election year?
I’m not sure. Again, I’m always hopeful that these films get attention. I like watching political films, documentaries and narrative films because to me, it is therapeutic — you get anxious in an election year, and it keeps the political conversation going. One can only hope that it spurs interest, but I feel Cranston will receive attention this year.

Any advice for first-time winners?
These moments are so rare. Just take the time to breathe, look around and soak it up. For me, it is incredibly difficult to feel entitled, and I had a hard time soaking it up. Feel and appreciate the moment.

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