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Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson opens up about ‘State of the Union’

Esteemed actress Patricia Clarkson chatted about her latest Emmy nomination for her acting work in “State of the Union.”

Brendan Gleeson and Patricia Clarkson in 'State of the Union'
Brendan Gleeson and Patricia Clarkson in 'State of the Union.' Photo Credit: Laura Radford, Sundance TV
Brendan Gleeson and Patricia Clarkson in 'State of the Union.' Photo Credit: Laura Radford, Sundance TV

Esteemed actress Patricia Clarkson chatted about her latest Emmy nomination for her acting work in “State of the Union.”

Track and field legend Wilma Rudolph once said: “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” Patricia Clarkson is such an inspirational woman and actress.

‘State of the Union’

Clarkson is nominated for playing Ellen in the 2022 Emmy for “Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series” for playing Ellen in “State of the Union.” “I loved Ellen’s simplicity and her honesty, and the beautiful love of her husband that she genuinely has,” she said.

“I love that the show is not about their children, it was about her and her husband and their troubles. I really loved playing Ellen, it brought me to some new places as an actor,” she said.

“Ellen is a very formidable woman and I love that,” she added.

She acknowledged that receiving the Emmy nomination for this role was “nice.” “The Creative Arts Emmys are very near and dear to my heart, that’s where I won my two Emmys for ‘Six Feet Under.’ I am excited and win or lose, I want to keep working. I am proud that Brendan and I got this acknowledgment for ourselves, but almost more so for our glorious producers who were stunning on this show. Our recognition is really their recognition too,” she said.

“This Emmy nomination is very special to me. I loved this project so deeply, and I am thrilled,” she exclaimed.

The short-form series “State of the Union” was created by Nick Hornby, and directed by acclaimed director Stephen Frears. It premiered on February 14th on SundanceTV.

Her gifted acting partner, Brendan Gleeson, who plays Scott, is also up for the Emmy for “Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series.” “Brendan is such a dreamboat. He is a consummate actor,” she said. “With Brendan, you see that we have this life. We came at it openly, loose, and exhausted. I loved his sense of truth, he is a very emotional actor. He is very giving, truthful, and kind.”

On being a part of “State of the Union,” she said, “It demanded the highest quality of everything for me. It involves all of the greats in our industry. It’s directed by Stephen Fears, written by Nick Hornby, and it stars Brendan Gleeson and this wonderful emerging actor Esco Jouley. It was this very high powerful moment in my career to suddenly be in a room with Nick, Stephen, and Brendan and it was glorious but tough.”

“Those 10-minute scenes were very intense,” she admitted. “It was one of the hardest jobs that I’ve ever had yet I want to be challenged at 62. I want to do things that do not come easy and do things that demand the best of me. I loved every minute of it, I really did. When you have glorious words the world is right.”

“Do not let Nick Hornby down,” she told prospective viewers and fans about “State of the Union.” “Give Nick’s gorgeous words a proper chance. Don’t fail Nick Hornby.”

In the past, Clarkson has won two Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series” for her acting work in the 2000’s TV series “Six Feet Under.” She is also an Oscar nominee for “Best Supporting Actress” for “Pieces of April.” “The Oscar nod for ‘Pieces of April’ felt divine and perfect,” she said. “My family was beside themselves — they were living vicariously through me.”

Advice for hopefuls

For young and aspiring actors, Clarkson underscored, “Give good auditions, that’s what saved me at the beginning of my career. Auditions are essential, they are your calling card. Now, auditions are slowly coming back.”

“Always make sure that your talent is present,” she added.

Career-defining moments

On her career-defining moments, she said, “If you were to talk to any crew member or background actor on any show I’ve ever worked on, they would have nice things to say about me, and I think that defines me on who I am in this industry. We must have respect for everybody on a set whether they are sitting in a folding chair or background of a scene, they are vital and essential.”

“The defining moments are the kindness that I have shown on a set,” she added.

On the title of the current chapter of her life, Clarkson said with a sweet laugh, “Stop, I want to get off.”

Dream acting partners

Her dream acting partners to someday work with on a film or acting project include Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Zendaya, Tom Holland, and the “stunning” Kate McKinnon. “There are remarkable young actors in our world right now that I am excited about and hopefully, I will work with them someday,” she said.

“We have way too many talented people in our industry,” she added. “I am fortunate to have worked already with remarkable people.”

Her favorite motto to live by is “Rise Above.” “As hard as that is sometimes, you need to rise above,” she explained. “I got this advice from my mother, that’s the motto I live by.”

Alternate career choice

If she were not in the acting and entertainment world, she noted that she would be a “journalist.” “I am obsessed with journalists and the lives that they live, and the integrity that they bring to their news and their reporting,” she said.

“If I had different DNA I would hope to have been a journalist,” she added.


On her definition of success, she said, “Success is never about a part or an award. Success for me is finding the people that I love as people and friends and also want to work with. It’s all one community in my life.”

“Success is having the beautiful people in your life that are great actors and directors, but they are also the people that I hang out with on the weekend because I love them as people whether I am working with them or not. I have a glorious life that way, and beautiful friends that are a godsend to me,” she explained.

To learn more about Oscar-nominated actress Patricia Clarkson, check out her IMDb page.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 18,000 original articles over the past 16 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a six-time consecutive "Best of Long Island" winner, and in the past three years, he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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