It's always thrilling when a deserving actor has their work acknowledged with an Emmy nomination, but when Merritt Wever's name was announced as one of 2012's five Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy nominees, I felt Zoey-levels of frenetic jubilation because she's long been one of the most underrated actors on television and that kind of uniquely exhilarating talent tends to be celebrated by online devotees (like me!) but ignored by organizations like The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
But, in the end, there was no denying the hilarious, intimate and sterling performance Wever has been serving on Showtime's Nurse Jackie. Emmy night was doubly sweet for Wever as her good friend (and Tiny Furniture boss), Lena Dunham, also scored several nominations for Girls.
I recently caught up with Wever to talk about the sensational season four (now on DVD), what fans can expect from season five and how she learned to stop letting Girls criticism get her down.
ETonline: There was so much I loved about season four -- especially Zoey living at Jackie's house. Looking back, what did you enjoy?
Merritt Wever: I thought it was a really strong season for us. I think there was a lot of energy and things rolled along faster. Living with Jackie was Zoey's dream come true, but you might be a little disappointed in season five because Zoey moves out pretty early on this season. But I loved having the opportunity to be in the house. It was another way to, unintentionally, invade her space.
ETonline: I thought the season also did a great job of reinforcing how much the staff of All Saints loves Jackie. What do you, as an actor, take away from a moment like the slow clap?
Wever: That this is a dysfunctional family but they really care about each other. I mean, it was awful when Akalitus and Eddie got fired. I hated that scene when they're sitting beneath the statue looking at their severance checks -- it was just so sad. Much like actors, [hospital workers] put in these crazy hours and see their co-workers more than their families most times. Accepting that support is an important part of struggling to stay sober -- more so than Jackie probably wants to deal with or admit. I don't think she wants to admit that to herself because it's unpleasant, but it's something she's really going to have to accept in the upcoming season.
ETonline: What else can you say about season five?
Wever: We return a couple of months later, there are a few new doctors on the floor and Dr. O'Hara decides she needs to live in London to be with her family, so right away Jackie loses her best friend and biggest ally in the hospital. There's a lot of transitions right in the beginning of the season -- especially for Jackie.
ETonline: What about for Zoey -- where do we find her in season five?
Wever: It's a much different season and I'm worried people may not like Zoey this year. I don't know, I don't think she's all that different, but I'm not sure how people are going to respond. Zoey is recommitted to her career this year, although after four years, it's not so much about her finding her way in the hospital any more. She's no longer a newbie, which is hard for me because I had trouble progressing the character when so much of her identity has been about being the fresh-faced new person. That was something I contended with this year. Zoey doesn't date, but she does have a casual encounter, which is very un-Zoey, but something that would happen to a girl in NYC.
ETonline: Speaking of, what's your take on Lena's vision of young NYC life in Girls?
Wever: I love Girls. I love it. I think Lena is crazy-talented and I love that she's on the air right now with this exciting show. Sometimes the conversations that get sparked are really annoying, but I love her.
ETonline: You mean like after the Patrick Wilson episode?
ETonline: Is it tough to have that kind of second-hand experience with her work?
Wever: In the beginning I would read things are feel strangely overprotective of her. But I quickly realized that girl can hold her f*cking own. She's smart and capable and I don't need to worry about Lena. She's got a great family, great friends and she's doing it right. I get annoyed sometimes about the stuff around her that she has nothing to do with, but I'm glad for many, many reasons that Girls is on the air.
ETonline: Was it surreal to both find yourselves as first-time Emmy nominees this past September.
Wever: It was nice to be recognized when you weren't expecting it. It was really nice having her nominated too. I went with a friend of mine who is a writer on Nurse Jackie, so to be able to have a moment of personal life amid all the business stuff was really refreshing because the business stuff can make events like that not easy to enjoy. If you can bring a small part of you to events like that, it's very useful. I was relieved when I realized we were sitting near one another. It made me feel a little more normal.
Nurse Jackie: The Complete Fourth Season is now available on DVD, and season five premieres April 14 at 9 p.m. on Showtime.