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Bill Hader on His Emmy Nomination and What Stefon Would Tell Him to Wear

Bill Hader. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty

This morning, Bill Hader, who departed Saturday Night Live in May, became the first male cast member to score a second Emmy nomination for acting work done on the show — but he’s not bragging or anything. When we spoke to the 35-year-old father of two this morning, shortly after the announcements were made, he’d just woken up and seemed as humble as ever. Here’s what Hader had to say about his Emmy-night reaction face, getting into Spotify thanks to his upcoming nineties-set movie The To Do List, and what Stefon would want him to wear to the ceremony.

Congratulations! Or maybe you’re jaded about being nominated for an Emmy at this point?
Ha, no. Not at all. It’s kind of cool. It’s insanely flattering. But when they called me, I was like, Huh? I wasn’t even thinking about it. I went to the ESPYs last night, hung out at Jon Hamm’s after-party, then got really exhausted and went home. I thought, Oh, I can sleep in! And then they called me at five-thirty in the morning and said, “You’ve been nominated for an Emmy.” I was like, “Huh? What happened?”

Did you do the Home Alone face?
No, it was more like a “Hello? Oh, okay … ” face. And then my publicist said, “We’re going to call you back. You’re going to do some press in 30 minutes.” So I went and made coffee and then I was just alone in my house because everyone was asleep. I was like, What do I do with this information? Do I wake everyone up? Do I just sit here?

Was it different last year?
Well, last year I was in New York, so I didn’t get the phone call waking me up in the morning because we were already up. I was trying to deal with something with one of my kids and all these SNL writers starting texting me.

You’ve said that you figured out your Al Pacino impression by watching his 2004 acceptance speech for Angels in America. Is that your favorite Emmy moment?
Yeah. That helped me so much. I had to learn impressions for the show and I watched him do that, and I was like, Yeah, I’ll just do that. That moment helped me because so many people — and I was one of them — think you have to get impressions off of the movies. But watching him on the Emmys, I was like, Oh, right, don’t watch them in movies — watch them in interviews and in acceptance speeches. You’ll pick up more of the tics and stuff that way because they’re not playing a character, they’re just being themselves. You can pick up on little things. I mean, my Pacino impression’s not subtle at all, but you can find little subtle cues that way.
You’re also in The To Do List, which is set in the nineties. Do you ever get nostalgic about that decade?
Yeah, but I’m so late for everything. I know all these people who are so into tech stuff. And I don’t know anything. I was with a friend two days ago and we were talking about buying music and he was like, “You’re on Spotify, right?” And I was like, “What’s Spotify?” So I went on Spotify and I’m going, “Jeez, this is fantastic.” So now I’m playing, like, Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. I’m like, “Yes! Bakesale! I don’t own this album! I’m going to listen to it on Spotify!” I’m sure Lou Barlow loves hearing that. And it did make me nostalgic for that time. I love that music.

You still have most of your music on CDs, don’t you?
Yeah. But actually, once you have kids, there’s like no place to put all that stuff. And I’m more like a movie buff anyway. I collect movies. So I have all those in binders. I don’t have the DVDs out. I put them in binders.

Like binders full of women?
No, not binders full of women. Binders full of DVDs, because when Maggie [Carey, who wrote and directed The To Do List] and I got married and moved in together, she was like, “The DVDs out make me feel like I’m living in a dorm room.” And I was like, “Okay, honey!”

She has said that Eddie Vedder was her first crush. When you’re sitting around at home, how often does she ask you to do your impression of him?
Not so much around the house. But she loved it when I did it on SNL. When Pearl Jam played SNL, Eddie brought me into his dressing room and gave me a shirt of his and said, “Next time you play me on the show, wear this.” It was so awesome and cool, and she was there for that and I thought she was going to faint. She got to meet her crush. But it’s funny, I did the impression for Eddie and he goes, “Yeah, I don’t make that face.” And I say, “You totally make that face.” And he goes, “No, I don’t make that face.” And I go, “Yeah, yes you do!”

What’s your plan for the reaction shot of nominees faces this year?.
I don’t know what I’m going to do. All my practicing is about how you lose, though. I don’t remember what I did last year. I think last year I did the nod-clap.

Nice. The nod-clap is a really tough one to pull off.
It was a very honest reaction last year. I was like, “All right!” because I like Eric [Stonestreet]. And also, we were first up. You sit down and there’s all this build-up to the ceremony and then you’re the first category and it’s like [relief/deflation sound].

If you win, you can just recycle the speech you wrote last year, right?
I did not write a speech last year. I won’t write a speech. If I ever did win something, it would be one of those mumbly rambly things that I’ll have to cut myself off. I’ll bring my own music up to cut myself off. I’ll have a little beat box and I’ll play it and then I’ll cut myself off and then leave.

What would Stefon advise you to wear to the ceremony?
He’d probably want me to wear, just, trash. He’d just want me to put a bunch of trash on my body and walk down the carpet. But he probably wouldn’t understand the Emmys. You’d probably have to explain to him what was happening.

Bill Hader on Stefon’s Emmy-Night Fashion Sense