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Ask Emily Mortimer

Emily Mortimer

Currently starring as a fictionalized version of herself in Doll & Em, Emily is known for playing MacKenzie McHale on The Newsroom. Recently she stopped in to answer fan questions on her life and work.

The Live Q&A has ended.

  • What can we look forward to the rest of the season?

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    Emily Mortimer

    You can look forward to more Evan and Olivia being hilarious. More Ewan and Mikhail being extremely handsome and brilliant. A long scene featuring extensive use of the word 'cunt', a visit from Virginia Woolf and in the last episode they will get to see something of the crazy play Doll and Em wrote.

  • Because the characters are loosely based on yourselves, do you and Dolly Wells find that people assume you are exactly like the characters?

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    Emily Mortimer

    I think people are a little freaked out by seeing us together on the street or in our local coffee shop or something. They probably think we are as demented as our characters on the show. And sometimes we kind of are.

  • You have primarily been an actress thus far; what prompted you to write? Have you always been a writer? (Loved Season 1! I hope the both of you continue to collaborate and create.)

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    Emily Mortimer

    Yes in a way I always have been a writer. My father was a comic writer in England and so was Dolly's father. They were friends and that's how we first met when we were kids. I used to put on plays on the stairs for my mum and dad to watch when i was growing up. They were mostly terribly boring. I acted out washing detergent commercials for them and once I wrote a very long play which was copied verbatim from a 10 part TV costume drama involving lots of horse riding, set in Edwardian England. I re-enacted all 10 episodes for them in one sitting and played all the parts - even the horses. My poor long suffering parents!

  • How has preparing for your Doll & Em role differed from that of your Newsroom one?

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    Emily Mortimer

    It was much easier preparing for Doll and Em as I really didn't have to learn any lines because Dolly and I had written them all. They were already kind of in my head. On the Newsroom I was always terrified of forgetting my lines. There were so many words to learn. I would always walk very carefully from my trailer to the Newsroom set, for fear of making any sudden head movements and the words falling out of my ears...!

  • How did you come to work on this project. Any others coming up?

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    Emily Mortimer

    We have known we wanted to write something together for an embarrassingly long time. We have had four kids between us in the time it took us to come up with Doll and Em! But admittedly a lot of that time was taken up with gossiping in coffee shops and not doing any writing at all. Once we actually had the central idea for the first season ( ie 'what happens when you make your childhood best friend your personal assistant?') it all went very quickly. It was less than a year between having that idea and our show being aired on the television. Yes, we are just starting on another project. Something very different. A British novel written in 1916 which we are adapting into a movie and setting in the present day in America.

  • What is the most rewarding part of working with your best friend?

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    Emily Mortimer

    Working with my best friend has been rewarding in every way. She's made me better at my job. I don't want to let her down. I want it to be good so she's not disappointed. Also I'm braver when Dolly's around. Less scared to ask for what I want and not give in. I have more courage to be daring in my writing and performing because she's there encouraging me to be my silliest, bravest self. And not judging me if it's lame. I hope I do the same for her too.

  • What do you think is the most important part of maintaining a good female friendship?

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    Emily Mortimer

    The most important part of maintaining a close friendship is just to recognize how much you love and need that person. Then you don't screw up because you know how much you can't afford to.

  • How do you feel about the amount of female-focused shows coming out and being part of such a show considering how much Hollywood and the world in general is predominately male?

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    Emily Mortimer

    We never set out to make a political statement with our show or consciously to redress a balance in male / female based TV shows... But we were very pleased when we were told that we had passed the Bechdel test.
    Apparently the Bechdel test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other at any point about something other than a man. It seems only about half of all films and TV shows pass. The test is named after American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, and her 80's comic strip 'Dykes to Watch Out For' (great title).

  • Any other guest stars we can anticipate looking forward?

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    Emily Mortimer

    The other guest stars are Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ewan MacGregor, Alessandro Nivola, Harvey Weinstein and all of Dolly and my kids as well as Dolly's husband Mischa Richter, both of our mothers, my mother in law and our dog. Oh and the wonderful J Mascis.

  • Love seeing Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood on Doll & Em. Did you choose them and, if so, how did you go about it?

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    Emily Mortimer

    Yes we chose them both and they are brilliant in the show and totally make the second season. My husband, the actor Alessandro Nivola who also produced the show, is responsible for ensnaring them both. He knew Evan already because they were going to be in a movie together at one point. He just called her up and sprung it on her.
    And he chased Olivia Wilde on his moped to a bar in Brooklyn where he accosted her and begged her to be in it.
    It's thanks to Sandro's determination, charm and powers of persuasion that we have those two incredible ladies in the show.