In celebration of another year of incredible television, W Magazine released their fourth annual TV Portfolio featuring 12 actors, photographed by Quil Lemons, who portray some of the most beloved, reviled, feared, and hilarious characters on television this year.
This year’s portfolio features many Emmy nominees including Meghann Fahy (The White Lotus), Matthew Macfadyen (Succession), Sheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott Elementary), Dominique Fishback (Swarm), Camila Morrone (Daisy Jones & The Six), Keri Russell (The Diplomat), Young Mazino (Beef), as well as some of the year’s biggest TV stars such as Salma Hayek (Black Mirror), Kerry Washington (UnPrisoned), Cara Delevingne (Only Murders in the Building, American Horror Story), Elle Fanning (The Great) and Tom Pelphrey (Love & Death).
On her fear of horror movies: “…I was afraid of the monsters that I had seen going to the makeup trailer. I knew it was prosthetics, but they would still freak me out. I was freaked out by my own mask when I turned into a monster and I saw [myself] in the mirror. And now I’m on Black Mirror.”
On how she’s always trying to quit Hollywood: “I have spent a lifetime trying to not be an actor. I am always quitting this business, and then right when I decide that I’m done is when something extraordinary comes across my desk. I was really, really done with this business right before I read the script for Ray. I was really, really done with this business right before I read the script for The Last King of Scotland. I was entirely done with this business before reading the script for Scandal. This is what happens again and again.”
Recalling the last person who made her feel starstruck: “Meeting Taylor Swift was…I couldn’t have been more starstruck. I almost threw up before meeting her. I saw her from across the room, and I just started crying involuntarily. I was so embarrassed. I was like, I cannot say hello to her with tears in my eyes. I have to pretend to be seminormal, but I don’t think I fooled her. She put her arm around me, and she was like, you’re fine. She watched [The White Lotus], which was insane. That was a true highlight for me.”
On which TV/movie characters she had crushes on: “… Jessica Rabbit, [but] I was confused. Because I really fancied Simba from The Lion King. And then, Nala is equally attractive. It was hard to differentiate. When I was younger I was like, I don’t know… I used to fancy John Smith from Pocahontas. And then I fancied Pocahontas. Not fancied, but, I had these things where I was like, wow, they made me feel funny inside.”
On the movie that makes him cry: “I’ve cried a lot watching Pixar films, to the disgust of my kids. Like in Ratatouille, when Peter O’Toole’s character, the critic Anton Ego, does that speech, I’m in bits. And the kids are all like, ‘Daddy’s gone again.’”
Sheryl Lee Ralph
On how she became part of Abbott Elementary: “…My daughter and I were crossing the campus of CBS Studios, and she was like, “Oh, that’s Quinta Brunson. You’ve got to meet her.” [Quinta] had just sold her first show. A few years later, she and I did A Black Lady Sketch Show together, and I was like, this wonderful young human being. Two or three years later, I get a call and she says, “Miss Ralph, I’ve got a brand-new show, and you are going to be perfect for it.” She was right.”
On being able to leave her Swarm character behind after filming each day: “The one scene that was hard to shake was the finale with her girlfriend. That kill was different. It was with her bare hands. It was personal to her. I was crying a lot after that. I spoke to the therapist on set about my feelings, just wondering, am I representing something bad? When I got home, I was so exhausted that I couldn’t even keep my eyes open. I felt like my spirit was fighting something all day just to keep me intact.”
Recalling her first kiss: “In a park in Santa Monica. I kissed a boy solely because we shared the same birthday. A bunch of us texted about meeting in this rocky area. Everyone got in a circle around us and they were like, ‘Do it, do it, do it.’ It was the least romantic first kiss ever. But then I was like, ‘I’ve kissed a boy, and I liked it.’”
On her go to karaoke song: “We did karaoke on the set of The Great for Halloween. We did Alanis Morissette. I used to sing ‘No One,’ by Alicia Keys, but that’s an obnoxious choice because it’s a strong power ballad. My sister and I, we sing ‘Before He Cheats,’ by Carrie Underwood. I love country music.”
On the first time he brough girlfriend Kaley Cuoco home to meet his family: “…when I first brought Kaley to New Jersey to meet my family and friends, my mom’s partner—who apparently was a Big Bang Theory fan—was there, and he kept calling her Penny. I had no clue what was going on. So I pulled Kaley aside, like, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what’s happening. Why does he keep calling you Penny?” She’s like, “That’s my character in The Big Bang Theory.” I was completely unaware. I’ve watched a few episodes with her since, and, obviously, she’s fantastic.”
The thing she managed to save from her experience as a Mousketeer: “My sanity, my dignity. Not everyone got out alive.”
On his favorite things to watch as a kid: “… I wasn’t allowed to watch anything that was deemed inappropriate or immoral, which was a lot. But I found a way. I would wait for my parents to leave the house, and I would watch all the things I wasn’t allowed to watch. I would raid my dad’s VCR cabinets, and I loved to watch True Lies with Jamie Lee Curtis. That one particular scene when she’s dancing, that was great.”
[Photo Credit: Quil Lemons for W Magazine]
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