It’s the most glamorous night in television and the cast of Schitt’s Creek, the little Canadian show that could, who are nominated for four Emmys (including Best Comedy Series), are "piled into a hotel room" getting ready together. Annie Murphy, who plays spoiled rich kid Alexis, is squeezed into a bathroom with her on-screen mom and off-screen idol, Catherine O’Hara (who plays Moira Rose). As Murphy and O’Hara "shoot the shit," O’Hara starts to put on her Emmys dress, a black-and-white gown by Toronto's Greta Constantine that would later make it onto all the best-dressed lists.
Ottawa native Murphy is telling me this story the day after the show, on the phone from L.A., and, as each excited sentence spills out of her, it sounds like Murphy still can’t believe it all happened. She’s Cinderella after the ball, and O'Hara is her fairy godmother. Murphy pauses dramatically before she tells me the next tidbit: "I had the great privilege of zipping Catherine O’Hara into her Emmys gown and helping her with her shoes."
"Catherine being Catherine was like, 'Get up. What are you doing down there? You're in a gown. Don't put my shoes on.'" Murphy is now laughing. "I said, 'please let me strap you into your shoes because it couldn't be a greater honour for me.' So, finally, she let me just do it, and then we professed our love for each other and took a selfie in the mirror. It was one of the greatest moments of my life." The scene is one you could almost imagine happening on Schitt’s Creek, except Murphy’s Alexis would never be as gleefully willing to help her mother get dressed, and Moira Rose would never be as humble.
If you’re a fan of the CBC series about a family who loses their fortune and is forced to survive in a small town, Alexis and Moira may feel a bit like family. You were also probably rooting for the show to take home a statue. Schitt’s Creek show would lose almost all of its awards to Fleabag, but as Murphy tells it, the entire cast and crew were, "just so fucking tickled to be there." Here, Murphy takes us behind her big night — from the main show to the star-studded afterparties.
How are you feeling?
A little hungover if we're going to be transparent with each other. I've just been reliving last night all day long.
How was last night?
It was truly, truly bonkers. It was unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I'm still deeply overstimulated. It was sweaty. It was spectacular. My neck is sore from all of the rubbernecking I was doing because all the very famous people that were there. I had a blast.
Tell me about your dress.
It was a little bit reminiscent of a 1980s lounge singer, which I fully leaned into. It's from a designer from Toronto. It's Out Here by Marcus Chaves. It was a very sparkly little number, but not a comfortable or breathable little number. We were all on the carpet, which is basically like a greenhouse with very little ventilation. We all just committed to feeling like melting plastic. All of our faces were running, and hair was just a mess. All the curls were gone. I had sweat dripping down my back to my ankles in these interviews that we were doing, but I felt great. And somehow, all of our colours ended up going together. No one talked about what we were going to wear, but we all had our blues and our reds and our blacks, and it all just looked great.
Take me through the logistics of the red carpet. Do you all arrive together?
We all got into different cars and were separated because the security is just so nuts. You have to drive through this huge route, even though it's literally right next door. The cars are searched, and we go through various levels of security. I fortunately ended up in a car with Dustin [Milligan] because the car that Noah [Reid] ended up in with Rizwan [Manji] got lost somehow, and Noah and Rizwan missed 95% of the whole carpet.
Take me inside the show. Were there nerves? You're surrounded by all of these legends. What’s going on during commercial breaks?
This is where the overstimulation continues, and my need for a chiropractor continues. It’s a 5,000-person venue, so up to the rafters, it’s full of beautifully dressed human beings and speckled every two people with a wonderful talented actor who you've admired for your entire life. So, I was sitting with Noah, Emily [Hampshire] and Dave West Read, who's the head writer of the show, and we had our little nook behind Dan, Sarah [Levy], Eugene and Catherine, which was great because had we been in the front row, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did. Halfway through the show, we snuck out at a commercial break and got a beer and a hot dog and ate it in the lobby in our glittering dresses and suits.
So, you’re eating hot dogs surrounding by the most famous people in the world.
It was very funny. They weren't just selling a normal-sized beer, they were selling basically a double tall can — just insane tall cans of beer. So we’re at our seats trying to sip when the camera wasn't around. It kind of feels like you're not actually there because you're like, "Well, Phoebe Waller-Bridge can't really be this close to me. That can't really be Ted Danson over there. Emilia Clarke can't really be that beautiful in real life." This doesn't make any sense.
Did you have any celeb run-ins that were a highlight of your night?
I have a highlight and a lowlight. When I tried to speak words to Phoebe Waller-Bridge as she walked by me, I just kind of like coughed air in her face trying to say hello. Like nothing really came out of my mouth other than a very awkward noise. And then before the Emmys, I met Amy Poehler, which was a true, true "bucket list, holy shit, what's going on?" highlight of my life.
What did you and Amy talk about?
She watches the show, and Catherine is also one of her idols. So, we gushed about Catherine for a long time. She told me that she liked what I did on the show, which was too crazy. And then I also met Tony Hale, who I've just been comedically in love with since Arrested Development, and he's just sweet and kind and way more normal than any character he plays and is also a big fan of the show. As you can probably tell, I'm still coming down it all.
Eugene was up for Best Actor in a Comedy, Catherine was up for Best Actress in a Comedy. The show was nominated for Best Comedy. Were there nerves? Excitement?
A lot of both. Eugene's an old hat at this, so he had it under control, but I think Dan was a little nervous, a little excited. He was like me in the sense of, "Oh my God, look at all the famous people. What is my life right now?" But I think we all knew that we weren't going to win, so that really took the edge off. As soon as Phoebe [Waller-Bridge] won the first award, I was like, "Okay, this is going to be her year."
So, you weren’t disappointed when the show lost?
Everyone on the show is so in love with Fleabag that it wasn't like, "Ah shit." It was like, "Yes! So well-deserved. This is how it should be going." When Phoebe won, our faces were all genuinely shit-eating grins.
Did you go to any after-parties?
The Governor's Ball was wild. There were Cirque du Soleil performers and people flipping around champagne flutes. It was really quite spectacular. I ran into the guys from Queer Eye, who are all big fans of the show, and everyone had drinks and had fun and did more of the same like, "Oh, shit, look at that over there. Play it cool," while people dressed like disco balls pranced around the room.
You’re gearing up for the final season of Schitt’s Creek. How are you feeling?
To just drop a cliché on you, it's very bittersweet. The harsh reality of the show being over is starting to really sink in. The last five years of my life have been truly the craziest and most wonderful. I couldn't sit down and write a better job for myself, so that's sad. And to know that the characters that we've created are not coming back is sad. Like, I'm not going to be able to be Alexis anymore and we're not going to see Moira anymore. But I think we were lucky that we knew it was going to be six seasons. The show is going to be wrapped up very, very beautifully. I think that's just a really great privilege because not a lot of shows get to do that. And we're all buds now. No one's going anywhere. I'm still going to insist that I let Catherine invite me over to her house back in LA, and we're all going to keep in touch, so it's not the end.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.