Ask a drama series actress to name the toughest part of her job, and inevitably the conversation turns to motherhood and the pressure of "doing it all." But this year's contenders are candid about much more: nudity, terrible auditions and "inhuman" hours were mentioned by the six women in our Emmy-season kickoff roundtable panel: Claire Danes, 33 (Showtime's Homeland), Mireille Enos, 36 (AMC's The Killing), January Jones, 34 (AMC's Mad Men), Julianna Margulies, 45 (CBS' The Good Wife), Emmy Rossum, 25 (Showtime's Shameless), and Kyra Sedgwick, 46 (TNT's The Closer).
Some excerpts from THR's Drama Actresses Emmy Roundtable:
KYRA SEDWICK AND JANUARY JONES ON THEIR SCARIEST AUDITIONS
Sedgwick: I have a moment that just leaped to mind. I auditioned for Flashdance a million years ago, and my agent told me I was supposed to wear a leotard, heels and no tights. I had such bigger balls back in those days. I thought, "I'm not wearing a leotard. Instead, I'll wear a little miniskirt and high heels." In the middle of my audition, [director] Adrian Lyne's phone rang and he picked it up. I turned to him and said, "You're not going to answer that phone call. I'm auditioning for you."
January Jones: That just reminded me of one of the worst moments in my entire life. It was an audition for Coyote Ugly, my second audition ever. I'd done the reading for the acting part and then Jerry Bruckheimer wanted me to come in and dance … on top of the table. ... They said, "You're going to dance to Prince's 'Kiss.' You're going to pole dance, but there is no pole." And I just turned beet red. It was awful, and he said something like, "Honey, you did a great reading, but you've got no rhythm." I called my agent and said, "I don't want to do this anymore."
Mireille Enos: Is it wrong to admit that having to kiss Brad Pitt was very, very terrifying? It was on World War Z, which I shot last summer and it was the second day of shooting.
JULIANNA MARGULIES ON HER 'INHUMAN' WORKLOAD
Margulies: I started The Good Wife when my son, Kiernan, was 13 months old, so it was easy to cart him around. But now he's 4, so try and be a good parent and also be good at your job; it's constant anxiety. [...] In what we do with episodic work, it's a nonstop train. I mean, there are days when, I was saying this to Kyra before, I had worked until midnight and then I had to go and shoot something else at five in the morning. I looked at my husband and I was like, "This is why Judy Garland was on pills." I can't keep this up. I need a pill! [...] At one point this year, I was in all these court scenes and I hadn't gotten the next script. I looked at the schedule and I was in every single scene. It was 11 o'clock at night and I just e-mailed everyone and I said, "How about we call an insurance day because … this is inhuman." And then Robert was like, "We're going to write you out of this scene and that."
JANUARY JONES ON SINGLE PARENTING AND PLAYING 'FAT BETTY'
Jones: I started this season of Mad Men eight months pregnant, and I finished it with a 5-month-old. It was bizarre. And I was in seven hours of prosthetics every morning, trying to rip off a fake chest piece so I could breastfeed. [...] I loved [the fat suit]. I didn't want to try to hide it, I thought it would become comical and weird. And I also didn't want to have the character become pregnant because it just wouldn't make sense. It was definitely difficult, but I love what he did with the character's story.
THR: Did you see the fat-suit episode before it aired?
Jones: I didn't. I saw it on the air, paused it and went screaming into the other room.(Laughter.) I got used to it. [...] We don't ask Matt [Weiner] for anything. He's extremely good at what he does, and it would be foolish of me to suggest anything. This season, I was lucky to be in four episodes because I was happy that he wrote a storyline for my character where I didn't need to be there every day. I was struggling as a single mom with a new baby; I didn't know what I was doing. He likes to give everyone sort of an arc, and you might not be there. He also likes to mess with the audience a bit. There's only been one time where I've ever questioned anything he's ever done.
EMMY ROSSUM ON HER 'SHAMELESS' NUDE SCENES
Rossum: I thought it suited the character. This is a very low-income family, they have very thin walls, they don't have money for entertainment, and this girl likes to have sex. For me to glamify her would be not realistic. I have a lot of control over what I want to show, when I want to show it and when I don't want to show it.
THR: Are you in a constant negotiation with John Wells about this stuff?
Rossum: Not at all. But originally, when they made the contract it was like, "You will show partial side boob, you will show two cheeks …"
Margulies: Those contracts are always so funny.
Rossum: When I got on set -- I'd never done nudity before -- I was like, "Oh, everyone here is human." Some days you feel like, "Oh, God. I wish we were shooting this last week, I felt so skinny."
JULIANNA MARGULIES ON THE PRESSURES OF BEING A SERIES LEAD
Margulies: As much as I'd like to pretend it's an ensemble, it's not. It's The Good Wife, and if the good wife goes down, there's no show! (Laughter.) My problem is, I'm not a squeaky wheel. I'm a worker; I can wait tables. So I have this idea that I'm one of the crew. But I have to be there two hours before the crew gets there and then work two hours when everyone goes home. [...] So my biggest challenge has been to say, "Guys, guess what? I can't be in the background of so-and-so's scene." That would give me two hours with my kid. Or, how about an hour to sleep, go to the gym. Or learn a line or two. I have to prepare and have a life. Sitting in a court scene for 14 hours without a line … is craziness. So they're going to work on that.