Julie Ann Emery Talks Better Call Saul, Masters of Sex and More [Exclusive]
It’s awards season and we can’t wait to see who’s recognized for their outstanding work in TV this year. There’s so much great stuff to choose from and Better Call Saul is one of the shows we’re hoping picks up a few nominations. If you watched Season 1, you’re familiar with the work of Betsy Kettleman’s Julie Ann Emery. She and her husband are accused of embezzling over a million dollars and Saul tries to maneuver them into taking him on as their lawyer. This is Saul, though, so things don’t go exactly as planned.
TV GOODNESS: Iâ€™ve enjoyed quite a few of your roles on TV. I was looking at your credits and youâ€™ve done great stuff. I remember you from Fargo, because I loved season 1 of that show. I also remember seeing you on The Following and Suits and Damages. Youâ€™ve done so many great things.
Julie Ann Emery: “I have. I think Iâ€™ve been especially lucky because people have been willing to cast me in something wildly different from what I just played. Betsy Kettleman was wildly different from Ida Thurman on Fargo. Even early on, 10 years ago I did my first series. In In the Line of Fire I was a hardcore FBI agent and then I was immediately cast as Casey in Hitch, who was just a sweet lovelorn romantic. Iâ€™m really attracted to that, to stretching myself and to stepping into someoneâ€™s shoes thatâ€™s very different from what I just played. Iâ€™ve been lucky Iâ€™ve been able to find that on camera.”
TV GOODNESS: It does seem like youâ€™ve done a lot of varied roles, which is amazing. Actually letâ€™s start with Betsy Kettleman in Better Call Saul. How did you hear about that?
Julie Ann: “My agent sentÂ an audition. Iâ€™m a journeyman actor. So, I get some offers but I donâ€™t get a ton of offers. I generally get whatever auditions come across my desk. I didnâ€™t even need to read it before I said yes. I just saw the words â€˜Breaking Bad spin-off.â€™ I wouldâ€™ve done anything on the show, quite frankly. I wouldâ€™ve said three lines. I think Breaking Bad was some of the best filmmaking weâ€™ve had on television. It was just so wonderfully done.
And I worked with Bob Odenkirk on Fargo. We become friendly and he was such a wonderful guy that I thought working on the show would be a treat. I wouldâ€™ve done anything.
I did not think I was right for it. I didnâ€™t read her like me. I approached the audition, I thought â€˜Gosh, thereâ€™s no way Iâ€™m gonna get this, but maybe Iâ€™ll make it work on me and then maybe Iâ€™ll be good enough that theyâ€™ll bring me in for something else.’ Three weeks later I got a call saying they would like me to come to Albuquerque and play Mrs. Kettleman. I didnâ€™t expect it at all. I hoped that somewhere down the line Iâ€™d work with these wonderful people. I just never dreamed it would be in something as juicy as Betsy Kettleman.”
TV GOODNESS: That role was so great. How did you prepare for it?
Julie Ann: “I do a lot of preparation. I do a lot of character work, backstory work. Iâ€™m always searching for someone I know or someone Iâ€™ve seen that I think is like the character. In Betsyâ€™s case, thankfully I donâ€™t know anyone exactly like that, but the McDonnellâ€™s were being indicted in Virginia while we were shooting. The city of Bell scandal was wrapping up in California. These were examples of politicians who were being indicted, but really, truly felt they did nothing wrong.
So I started scouring the internet for video of people who obviously did something wrong but truly feel they didnâ€™t and also people who seem oddly pleasant on the outside, but you’d watch them and think, â€˜Oh my God. Whoâ€™s buried in your backyard?â€™ I wanted that disconnect for Betsy from what she shows the world and whatâ€™s going on in her head. I wanted there to be a very obvious disconnect for that, so I became obsessed with youtube during our shooting.
Jeremy Shamos and I would send each other videos we thought were right on. It was a very symbiotic process with him and with Vince Gilligan. That doesnâ€™t usually happen on television. Usually you do all your homework on your own and then show it to them and hope it bounces off the other actors and the director in the right way. Bob Odenkirk rehearsed with us a lot outside of set. Jeremy and I spend a lot of time together outside of set, running around Albuquerque and it would always, oddly, turn into some weird Kettleman behavior. Weâ€™d be at the Macaroni Grill or Starbucks and suddenly weâ€™re acting like the Kettlemans. It was a different process than Iâ€™ve ever had before. Iâ€™m very grateful for it.”
TV GOODNESS: It sounds pretty amazing.
Julie Ann: “Yeah. The Kettlemans are a very specific headspace. Itâ€™s not an easy headspace to drop and pick up. We did Episode 1 and then we were off for an episode. Then we did Episode 3 and 4 and we were off for 2 episodes, so it was something very challenging to step back into every episode and to really feel like I had her.”
TV GOODNESS: Tell me about your favorite or your most challenging scene or something that really stuck with you during that shoot.
Julie Ann: “The most challenging scene, the juiciest scene as an actor, was probably the scene in 107 in the house when we discover our moneyâ€™s gone. When we shot that, every take was a full take from beginning to end and that scene was very, very long. That scene starts out in a very pleasant place and then goes to panic and then goes to rage and then just ugly crying, so that range of emotion â€” you donâ€™t want to carry that where its gonna end with you at the beginning of the scene, so I found that scene almost terrifying when I read it. Itâ€™s one of those scenes you look at as an actor and go, â€˜Yesâ€™ and then you go â€˜Fuck, I have to pull the off.â€™
I set her up as someone who absolutely would not be deterred over up and down. She speaks her world and sticks to it more than any character Iâ€™ve ever played. Then looking at that and going, â€˜Oh my God. How does a woman like this actually break down?,â€™ was something I spent a lot of time exploring and that I worried about a lot.
I think my favorite scene that was the most fun was a scene from that same episode in the diner at Loyolaâ€™s with Bob where weâ€™re trying to convince him that heâ€™s our lawyer whether he thinks he is or not. It was so fun to play. Bob has obviously proved that he has great dramatic chops on the show, but heâ€™s such a brilliant comedic actor. It was so fun to frustrate him to that degree.”
TV GOODNESS: I also wanted to ask you about an upcoming project, Masters of Sex. I love that show so Iâ€™m really excited youâ€™re going to be on it. Can you tell me anything about your character and what youâ€™re going to be doing?
Julie Ann: “Iâ€™m not gonna tell you a lot because thereâ€™s a great reveal with my character that I donâ€™t want to spoil for anybody and I hate spoilers. I try to stay away from Twitter on Sunday nights when Game of Thrones is on or Walking Dead. I hate that as a fan of other things, so I can say my character has an incredibly unusual relationship on Masters of Sex, especially for the time period. I got to work with some of the people Iâ€™ve admired for a long, long, long time and that was really a thrill. Adam Arkin directed one of the episodes. He was quite wonderful, a really brilliant director and obviously a brilliant actor, but it was a pleasure to be on that set. It was great.”
TV GOODNESS: Youâ€™ve got a knack for working on projects where youâ€™re not allowed to say much.
Julie Ann: “Better Call Saul, I shot the entire season before I was allowed to tell anyone, aside from my husband, that I was even in it. I told all my friends I had to go to Albuquerque for work. Theyâ€™re like, â€˜What are you doing?’ I was like, â€˜I canâ€™t tell you. But itâ€™s great.â€™ I understand it because of the world that we live in now with the internet, but I have done a lot of stuff lately thatâ€™s very clamped down on talking about it before it airs.”
TV GOODNESS: I get that. Itâ€™s a joy to discover it and not know too much about it before you watch it.
Julie Ann: “I like to make my own discoveries and choices. I donâ€™t like to be so influenced by everyone elseâ€™s thoughts on it. I think weâ€™re losing that on television and Iâ€™m glad to see shows hit back. Iâ€™m a huge fan of various things and I canâ€™t stand for it to be spoiled for me. So, I totally get it. You rob people of the ability to take the ride. So, I think weâ€™re probably gonna see more and more of this. But Iâ€™ve had a year of where Iâ€™m not allowed to talk about things.”
TV GOODNESS: Thereâ€™s so much good TV on right now. Itâ€™s so hard to fit it all in. If you could pick any show to star on, to guest star on, to be a part of, what would it be and why?
Julie Ann: “Game of Thrones. Iâ€™ll never be on Game of Thrones because Iâ€™m American and I think Peter Dinklage is the end of Americans on Game of Thrones. I mean, heâ€™s wonderful and itâ€™s filled with a lot of brilliant British actors, as it should be, but those George R.R. Martin books are like crack for me. I would finish one and have to go get the next one immediately. I couldnâ€™t stand to be away from them. I was reading them at 3 oâ€™clock in the morning. I thought they were amazing. I think the show is amazing. Theyâ€™re done an amazing job of translating something incredibly vast and boiling it down for television. I think itâ€™s gorgeously shot. I think itâ€™s really beautiful.”
TV GOODNESS: I agree. I like that show a lot.
Julie Ann: “I love it and I also think they found a good and interesting place for women in the time period. Thereâ€™s so much period work in movies and television that leaves out women. Itâ€™s not like they werenâ€™t always half the population. I think Game of Thrones does a really good job of being a great show that includes the female storyline.”
TV GOODNESS: Youâ€™re also a bit of s Star Wars fan, right?
Julie Ann: “Iâ€™m a huge Star Wars fan. Iâ€™m a total geek.”
TV GOODNESS: And youâ€™ve gone to some of the Cons, right?
Julie Ann: “I went to my first one. I went to Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim.”
TV GOODNESS: How was that?
Julie Ann: “I was like an overstimulated child the entire day. I had the best time. I think itâ€™s a really good time to be a fan. Weâ€™re catering to fans and people are able to find like-minded folks online in a really fun and good way. Itâ€™s part of the reason I love Twitter. I have my own things Iâ€™m a a fan of that I follow and follow along with and that I love to read about. I think the internet is serving a really nice purpose that way.”
Edited for space and content.
All 10 episodes of Better Call Saul are available on iTunes and Amazon now. Season 3 of Masters of Sex premieres Sunday, July 12th at 10/9c on Showtime.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
John Griffin and Harold Perrineau Talk From on EPIX Season 1 Finale
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] How are we doing, #FROMily? In case you missed it this morning, the very good news is that that cliffhanger will be followed by a second season, which was gifted this morning ahead of the linear broadcast of the finale. I always legitimately appreciate when we…
Elizabeth Saunders Talks EPIX’s From
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the things that makes EPIX’s From such a fun ride is the abundance of Canadian cast members. Elizabeth Saunders, who plays Donna, is a favorite from her turn on the third season of Mary Kills People, which US audiences still have not been able…
Corteon Moore Talks From “Broken Windows, Open Doors”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight’s episode of From had us all in our feels as we learned through flashbacks about the Sophie’s Choice Boyd had to make to save his son, and back in the present as Boyd said his piece with Ellis before heading into the woods with…
Pegah Ghafoori Talks From “All Good Things…”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode] Tonight on From, Fatima’s anniversary celebration turned into a Colony House of horrors when a misguided Kevin let his monster bae in and she promptly killed him and left the window open for her crew. While the party devolved into terror and sent everyone running,…
Shaun Majumder Talks From “Book 74”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight on EPIX’s From, Father Khatri made a bold move, kidnapping Sara instead of turning her in, and then recognizing her as a vessel for some big messages. That startling realization speaks to him on multiple levels–as a man of faith, a man trapped in…
Avery Konrad Talks About Sara’s Struggle in From “Silhouettes”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Over the course of the season so far on From, we’ve witnessed Sara’s battle against the voices telling her to to do terrible things, and tonight we saw her unravel further, threatening the Matthews and lashing out in a moment of terror with horrifying results….
Hannah Cheramy Talks From “Choosing Day”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight, on EPIX’s From, the Matthews participate in the show’s version of the sorting hat, choosing where to call home–the town or Colony House. At the end of the episode, Julie makes the decision to split from her family and instead settle in with Fatima…
Ricky He Talks From “The Way Things Are Now”
[Warning: Spoilers for episode 102 of EPIX’s From.] Epix’s new series From is two episodes in and it’s already laying the groundwork for a seriously spooky season. Tonight’s episode demonstrated the careful balance of relief and horror that the show hits, with our characters’ worst fears realized, just not when…
Catching Up with Ted Lasso and Previewing Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] The not so dirty little secret about how I approach a new series is that I sometimes make a call based on the headspace I’m in at the time. It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a show after the first season and then binge…
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…