Comedian, television auteur, and Entertainment Weekly coverboy Louis C.K. earned seven Emmy nominations yesterday. His multi-hyphenate work on FX’s much-praised Louie earned him Best Actor, Best Writing, and Best Directing nominations. He also earned four nominations for his comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theater. EW got on the phone with C.K. to talk about his nominations, the other nominees that excited him, and what’s in store for the third season of Louie.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, congratulations. I’ve seen some reports that say you broke the record for most individual Emmy nominations in a single year.
LOUIS C.K.: That’s weird. Breaking records is not something you expect to be doing. That’s like a sports thing, it’s not usually a comedy and writing thing. I love that David Lynch had the record before me [for Twin Peaks]. I love him. He’s like an idol of mine.
You were nominated for directing the Afghanistan episode “Ducklings,” which had the most ambitious production of the episodes you made last year. Is it nice to see that work nominated?
Very much so. I loved that episode. For me the directing is the nomination I’m happiest about, because it reflects the whole company. You can’t direct without a good crew. We had a lot of fun doing that one.
For your Best Actor Emmy nomination, do you know which episode you’ll be submitting to the voters?
I sort of sent it out to committee, to everyone at FX. I’m the least capable of figuring stuff like that out. I don’t even remember last season very well, to be honest with you. It’s hard to keep it all in my head.
Are there any other nominations you were excited to see?
I’m really happy for Lena Dunham. Her show’s definitely very unique and really good. I love Parks & Rec and all my friends on that show. I was really happy that Amy [Poehler], who’s my friend, got writing and acting. That’s great.
Girls comes from a distinctive single sensibility, with Lena Dunham both in front and behind the camera. You really paved the way for that with your show. Do you think that Louie might be influencing the level of creative involvement that people will have in TV shows in the future?
Before me there was Larry David, who was very much a single-voice TV show guy. It’s just another approach. A lot of TV is put together by teams, by writing staffs and several different directors. It’s a great, very smart way to make television. It’s worked for however long TV’s been around. The idea of just one person making a show this way is kind of cool. It’s another tool in TV’s arsenal. Lena’s definitely an example of that, and Larry David before us. I don’t know who else, really. That’s about it, now.
Your show is such a small production, with a relatively small viewership. Does it feel good to get this much attention from the Emmys?
It’s nice, because it has a positive effect. I’m very grateful to FX, and for them, an Emmy is a piece of gold. It’s a positive thing for them. I wanted them to have as many as I could muster. That’s why I gave them the special. I figured we had a good shot to be nominated, because I’ve been nominated in categories for specials before. In that way, it makes me happy. It rewards the people who gave me this show, and of course the people who work for me. I just want to keep the thing going. And the Emmys are blood, you know? They’re sustenance.
Would you ever host the Emmys, if they came calling?
[Laughs] No. I’m certain I am not good at that. That’s not my thing. For me to be a sneak-on nominee on the Emmys, and to maybe win one of the more obscure categories I’ve been nominated for, that’s about all the involvement I should be having.
Even with all these nominations, Louie didn’t ultimately get the best comedy nomination. You sound absolutely incensed about that.
Oh, boy, I can’t even…I’m going to…I think HBO is cheating. No, I couldn’t care less. I’m upset for the other people who work for me. I would like to share this. These are all my Emmys. I would like to share this with the people who work for me. So I’m sad about that. But I don’t feel like it’s unfair.
If you win all seven of your nominations, you can just cross out your name on the award and hand them out.
If I win enough, they become just swag gifts! Like a baseball cap.
You’re still in the midst of season 3. Is there anything coming up that was as difficult or as different as “Ducklings” was last year?
FX gave us an extra couple hundred grand for “Ducklings.” This season, we asked for that again, but we decided to spread it out over a few episodes. The 10th, 11th, and 12th episodes of this season are a three-part story. There’s a lot going on in that story, and the tone is unlike other stories I’ve told. It’s got some really fabulous guest-stars. It’s kind of a big change for the show, in terms of the stuff that goes on. It’s really the jewel of the season. Those three episodes are gonna be mostly, I think, what folks remember about this season.
Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich
Read more on EW.com:
This Week’s Cover: Inside the Mind of Louis C.K.
Louis C.K. selling tour tickets directly to fans
The ‘Louie’ TCA panel, featuring Louis C.K.: 10 things we learned
Best of 2011 (Behind the Scenes): Louis C.K. on “Duckling”