"Game of Thrones" brought in a dragon-sized haul of Emmy nominations on Thursday morning, leading the race with 24 nods and bringing HBO to a cumulative total of 126 — the most for any network this year.
"Thrones" breezed past its previous record of 19 nominations, with its tally including recognition in the categories of Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Peter Dinklage), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey), Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Diana Rigg), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (David Nutter, Jeremy Podeswa) and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (David Benioff & D.B. Weiss).
Naturally, stars Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) and Headey (Cersei Lannister) were thrilled for their own nominations in the Supporting Actress category, but equally jubilant that the other was recognized.
"It feels bloody amazing. I wholeheartedly believe that she deserves it much, much more than I do," Clarke said of Headey. "She's one of the finest actors ever, and I've grown up on the show admiring her and going to her for advice, so it's really bloody amazing, because she puts her heart out there, and every season... she gives it so much. It's brilliant. I want everyone on 'Game of Thrones' to be nominated for something."
"Two for one, 'Game of Thrones'!" Headey enthused. "It's great, it's gonna be great to be up there with Emilia — to finally have two of us in a category, two women, it's very cool. I need to talk to her about that; I need to call her and say well done."
Headey received the news of her nomination after a sleepless night — but her insomnia had nothing to do with nerves: "My new baby's been awake all night, so I feel like she may have known something I didn't," she quipped.
Clarke, meanwhile, found herself in a very unlikely location when she got the call: "I was in the doctor's waiting room — the girls' doctor's waiting room," she revealed with a laugh. "Being like, 'oh, good... I just have to continue this phone call with everyone giving me loads of congratulations and getting stared at by everybody else in the waiting room to shut the hell up.' So it was absolutely brilliant, hilarious, couldn't have happened in a better place."
The two also reflected on the show's dominance in an increasingly competitive awards race, and its enduring popularity after five seasons.
"It's wonderfully mad, because you do something like this and certain people will love it, but it seems to attract a diverse, huge group of people," Headey noted. "Our writers, David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] and Bryan [Cogman], they're all so amazing, so I'm desperately hoping they get recognized for their skills. We've got an incredible crew and it's pretty intense, the work that those boys and girls do every year."
"It feels surreal as all hell," Clarke said. "It's so funny because [the show] has such gravitas that I'm only beginning to comprehend, and it has this cultural footprint, but when you film it, you're just with your mates and your family, basically — these people I've been with for six years now. Every season, the scripts come in and it never feels like the same character, it always feels so new and exciting. They screw us over royally as actors because every other script I read in comparison to those scripts are rubbish — we're spoiled for life. So I feel insanely lucky and privileged, and I want so much for David and Dan to get the writing win. I want that more than anything, because those boys work harder than anyone... it's so wonderful to see the impact the show has because when you really get to the nuts and bolts how many people are involved and what they do and how hard they work, it really is mind-boggling ... it's just so wonderful to see that it's recognized."
As revealed at Comic-Con this past weekend, the cast has already received scripts for season six, and both Headey and Clarke were effusive in their praise of what's ahead.
"Every year you go 'What?! Whaaaat!?' and having read these, it's the same feeling again... there's a lot to be very excited about," Headey teased.
"I'm looking forward to absolutely every part of it, it's like go-go-go from episode one," Clarke said. "You know how sometimes it's like, 'we're just going to remind you and warm you up: remember this and remember that and I bet you forgot his name...' sort of thing? [This season] it's literally like 'oh yeah, no chance to catch up, here you go, we're just gonna hit you with it every episode, with something more mental than the last.'"
She added, "I'm like a kid having a sugar high — I can't handle how sick these scripts are. We actually got the next load in as well and they're really good. You know that David and Dan are really happy with a script when in the stage directions they just add their own commentary like 'yeah, right, bitches, sixth season!' There's a lot of that."
"Game of Thrones" returns to HBO in 2016. The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will air Sept. 20 on Fox.
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