Despite finding award ceremonies very stressful, Laurie Metcalf is quite good at winning trophies. She’s up for three Emmy Awards this season — guest actress in a drama for LouisCK.net’s “Horace & Pete,” guest actress in a comedy for CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” and her first lead actress in a comedy series nomination for HBO’s “Getting On” — and was on a hot streak in the 1990s when she took home three consecutive supporting actress in a comedy Emmys for “Roseanne.”
What do you remember about that first win in 1992?
I remember that Roseanne [Barr] was the presenter and obviously it was my first time there. When she called my name, I halfway didn’t believe her. I halfway wondered if my name was really printed on that piece of paper or if someone else’s was. It was, but I wondered, “Can I trust her?”
Did you think the fact that she presented was a clue you would win? Or just coincidence?
You couldn’t get more popular than Roseanne then, but it did cross my mind. It’s much more elaborate these days with the Emmys.
Did you have a speech prepared?
I can’t just speak off the top of my head. I admire people who can do that, but I’m a blithering idiot. You need to cover your ass in case the unforeseen happens. If you are the winner of a bigger category and you go up on the stage to accept it, I feel this weird onus of, “What do you say? How do you properly thank and pay homage to everyone?” When you win an award, there’s this whole labyrinth of people who wrote and directed and produced [your show]. It’s so nonsingular and I guess to be singled out makes me feel self-conscious.
How did you celebrate after?
It was different back then. I just left [the ceremony]. I ended up figuring out a way not to go backstage and I skipped the party and, honest to God, I was back home in my pajamas watching the thing on TV by halfway through the ceremony, which is much more of my comfort zone.
It’s almost hard to believe, but even though Roseanne eventually won an Emmy herself, and John Goodman and Sara Gilbert were nominated, the show was always overlooked in the comedy series category.
The show never got a nomination and it’s a shame because it really was unique for the time. However people looked at the show — whether they liked it or didn’t — it was all so personal for Roseanne. It was her family and her kids and their storylines. She did such an amazing job of placing a show in Middle America and gave us a show about a family who almost can’t make it and the kids aren’t cute all the time. There were real problems and she was always willing to sacrifice a laugh to give the show a weight that she knew that it could carry. It was a real bold move then to do that.