“This is crazy,” Nicholas Braun said less than an hour into his experience taking part in the largely remotely produced 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards. “This is actually happening.”
There are a lot of feelings to contend with when you’re a first-time nominee and a cast member on one of TV’s most talked-about shows, “HBO’s “Succession,” which has captured the zeitgeist with a Murdoch-inspired tale of a family’s battle for control of a global media empire.
Braun was nominated for best supporting actor in a drama for his performance as Greg Hirsch (a.k.a. Cousin Greg), the gawky and savvy peripheral family member of the Roy media dynasty at the center of the HBO drama. The show was up for awards in multiple major categories.
In an ordinary year, it would be an exhilarating night that might include run-ins with TV’s biggest stars in the lobby of the Staples Center or near-trips on long trains of expensive gowns on a crowded red carpet. But in these pandemic days, Braun was one of 100-plus nominees remotely “attending” the awards show via a live feed.
The 32-year-old actor beamed into the ceremony from his apartment on New York’s Lower East Side, where he’s been quarantining since July (following a brief stint with a friend in Los Angeles). He spent much of the night parked on his plush L-shaped gray couch, joined by his mother, Elizabeth Lyle, who flew in from her home in Mexico; his father, Craig Braun, who lives in Midtown; as well as his brother and his brother’s girlfriend, who crossed the river from Bushwick, Brooklyn.
“We watched the feed as they opened the show, and the first cutaway was to me and I was like, wait, what the f— is going on right now?” Braun told The Times during a commercial break from the virtual festivities. “There was a lot of shots from last year, and I couldn’t really hear because there’s a lot of noise in my place right now. I was like, are they actually going to do Zoom stuff right now? Or did they just take old clips and make it work? It was kind of a weird moment to see myself from last year.”
The night wasn’t without glitches; this is 2020, after all. Before the big show, Braun had his parents join him for a pre-show “red carpet” interview on ABC — only for his feed to lose sound.
“Succession” actor and 2020 Emmy nominee Nicholas Braun in New York City.
(From Nicholas Braun)
“There was no response,” Braun said. “I thought maybe they were not down with me being with my family. Like, is there some COVID protocol that I violated? But then the sound was back.”
Looking as sleek as Cousin Greg on the night he was bopping his head to the rapping delights of Kendall Roy at that tribute dinner in Season 2, Braun was among the nominees who opted for an air of elegance at his DIY satellite ceremony — forgoing loungewear or pajamas for more formal attire.
Styled by Michael Fisher, the actor wore a navy tuxedo by Paul Smith that really came to life with a matching pair of navy Crocs bedazzled with embellishments and the word “Antibodies,” the name of his recent COVID-19-inspired song. Braun dressed for a cause. The outfit will be up for auction at Chic-Relief.com — organized in conjunction with RAD (Red Carpet Advocacy) — to raise funds and awareness for Michelle Obama’s voter registration organization, When We All Vote.
“I always just wanted to wear a tux,” Braun said. “I just wanted to dress up. It’s kind of funny to wear it inside my house.”
And those Crocs?
“I was like, am I really going to wear some Crocs to the Emmys?” he said. “But honestly, once I popped them on, it just [felt] very right with this tux. The Crocs are in full effect. Socks plus Crocs. Hopefully my feet won’t get too sweaty.” Braun tried to get in a game of tennis with his mom Sunday morning but was thwarted by a long wait.
The night’s takeout dinner did not include Cousin Greg’s favorite, Cajun chicken linguini from California Pizza Kitchen. (A lost opportunity, if you ask us.) Instead, Braun and his family ordered in a spread of Israeli food from Shoo Shoo in Nolita — they dug into baba ghanoush during “Schitt’s Creek’s” winning streak early into the show show. Braun’s brother, Christopher, also gifted the actor with a bottle of Veuve champagne — “We gotta crack that before the night is over,” he said.
Nicholas Braun’s mother, Elizabeth Lyle left, his father,Craig Braun, brother Christopher and Christopher’s girlfriend, Courtney Spitznagel.
It’s a night he says he won’t soon forget. The actor, whose other credits include “Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “How to Be Single,” knew it was unlikely a traditional ceremony would take place in light of the current health crisis. But he had wondered what form the awards might take.
“I thought maybe they’ll have a stage in New York and people would be sitting far away from each other, or something,” Braun said. “Then I thought, oh, maybe there’s gonna be a small camera crew inside the house and then are they going to film me for three hours straight and at any moment, they might catch me doing something weird. It seemed like a very surveillance heavy, baby monitor sort of version of this.”
Instead, nominees were set up with professional camera units, which included a high-tech camera, a ring light, a boom mike and other equipment on a wheeled cart. Braun’s system was delivered Saturday, followed by a chat with producers over Zoom about how to operate the attachments and when to be camera ready.
“I [could] change the lighting, I [could] change the size of the frame, I [could] put the camera where I want to,” he says. “It’s pretty wild times, but I’m glad to be a part of a year that’s very special and kind of bizarre as well.”
Nicholas Braun, from left; his mom, Elizabeth Lyle; dad, Craig Braun; and brother, Christopher Brain, with his girlfriend, Courtney Spitznagel, at their satellite Emmys gathering.
He’s less certain whether Cousin Greg — a.k.a. Greg the Egg, a.k.a. Greg, the Water Bottle Punching Bag — would have been able to fully appreciate the dizzying night.
“He would have been really unsure of what to wear, and would probably change his tux a bunch of times, and maybe he’d spill something on his tux because he has a shaky hand,” Braun said. “He’d try to clean it but would make the spill worse. Then he probably also be calling Tom and Logan — and giving them a lot of positive feedback.” Braun himself did FaceTime with costar Sarah Snook, who plays Siobhan “Shiv” Roy on the series, early in the ceremony.
Braun ultimately did not win in his category — a cutaway showed him graciously watching as “The Morning Show’s” Billy Crudup giving his winning speech. But there was still much to celebrate. “Succession” took the prize for best drama — its first in the category.
“Holllly s—,” Braun said by phone moments after the win. “What a crazy night. I’m just so psyched for our show right now. I’ve been watching the Emmys for so long and you see these shows, like ‘Mad Men,’ be the best drama. It just looks kind of impossible. Like, how would you ever land on a show that gets seen as the best show? To be on one is just the coolest thing. I loved Jesse [Armstrong]'s speech. To see Jeremy [Strong, his costar] get a win ... it’s really affirming for this thing that we’ve been doing.”
And he’d like more than anything to get back to making it: “I’ll do the whole season in a face shield, I don’t care,” Braun said.
He hopped off to join a celebratory Zoom call with the cast and crew of “Succession.” After that, he was going to meet up with Strong and possibly fellow costar Kieran Culkin, at a nearby bar to “pour some champagne” on Strong’s Emmy. “We will ‘cheers’ through the air; we will not be touching glasses!”
He added: “It’s such a crazy life event to go through this way. I had my family here, and it was a lot of hugs and tears from my mom throughout the night.”
A memorable night inside and out.