Jonathan Banks reflects on his first Emmy nomination in 1989: 'I was so naive'
"Better Call Saul's" stone-faced hitman Mike Ehrmantraut may be keenly aware of everything going on around him, but the actor who plays him prefers to remain blissfully ignorant -- at least on Emmy day.
"I found out around 3:15 Eastern time," Banks told me of his nomination this morning for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. "I was out on a golf course, I turned my phone off. I make it a point not to know when they're gonna announce awards, right? And that way I'm not stressed out, because I'm human. And I didn't, I didn't realize today was the day. And I got home and I see on my phone -- I turned on my phone and it says 'congratulations' and I went 'Oh!' And I called my manager and he says 'congratulations.' And I said 'for what?' And he said 'the Emmys, you fool!'"
This is Banks' second Emmy nomination for playing Mike but not his second overall -- the veteran actor first received a nod from the TV Academy way back in 1989 for his role on the CBS crime series "Wiseguy."
"I was so naive back then that they called me and woke me up in Vancouver and the press person said 'congratulations!'" he recalled. "And once again, I went, 'for what?' So I haven't changed much, I guess."
But make no mistake: Banks knows how "incredibly fortunate" he is.
"I'm very, very grateful. I just can't help but know how lucky I -- I am one of the lucky ones," he said. "And i don't care how overused that is, it is heartfelt and I truly believe it."
"Better Call Saul's" four nominations today -- the show also received nods for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor (Bob Odenkirk) and Outstanding Writing (Gordon Smith) -- must come as an especially gratifying turn for the show's cast and creators after the initial skepticism that greeted the series when it was first announced. Banks admitted that even he had a brief moment of doubt, but quickly shoved it aside.
"I knew how good these writers were. ...Did I look at it and wonder? I did for a second, and then I thought, you know what? You're gonna do this, you commit to it fully. And it's not gonna do any good to worry about whether it will be the equal or whether it will be a failure. Or a success. It's just...you commit to it. and you know, you know that you're gonna get to do this great character that is still in many ways a mystery. Which I like. I like it when you don't know everything."
The 67th Emmys air September 20 on FOX.