Celebrating her first two Emmy nods, Ann Dowd is ‘pinching myself’

Ann Dowd in "The Handmaid’s Tale."

It’s proving to be a good year for Ann Dowd.

Thursday morning, the actress received not one but two Emmy nominations: supporting actress in a drama series for Hulu’s "The Handmaid’s Tale," and guest actress in a drama series for HBO’s "The Leftovers."

This will be her first time going to the Emmys despite a career that spans 32 years.

Where were you when you got the news?

I was sitting on my bed in North Carolina, where I’m shooting the second season of "Good Behavior." I’m just stunned. I’m pinching myself as we speak.

So you were surprised?

Oh, yes. This morning I knew it was going to be announced, so I cleaned the house and I rearranged the furniture and I changed all the pictures. I’m not even kidding. And I took a little walk around the town house I’m staying in and I said, "Whatever happens, just receive it with grace and know how fortunate you are to be working."

That’s honestly what I was doing. And then I went inside and sat down and was watching Wimbledon. I was watching Venus [Williams] play some wonderful young tennis player and I pretended I was playing tennis and got involved… I was trying to distract myself.

And then at about 11:40 a.m. I just texted my publicist and said, "Has it happened?" And he called me and he said very quietly, "You got both." And I quietly flipped because I was so stunned I could barely talk.

Ann Dowd, right, as Patti Levin in a scene with Amy Brennerman in the HBO series "The Leftovers."

How does it feel to finally be recognized after such a long career in the industry?

The overwhelming feeling is gratitude. Because so many actors deserve to be recognized and so many actors work so hard and don’t know where their next job is. And to have the great fortune of playing roles like Patti [Levin in "The Leftovers"] and Aunt Lydia [in "The Handmaid’s Tale"], there’s a great fortune in that. Really, the strongest feeling is gratitude.

Who was the first person you told?

My husband. He was utterly sweet and lovely and wonderful. My husband and I met in acting school and we’ve been together ever since, so he knows just what the feeling would be like. And the hopes and dreams we have as actors, he and I share that, and so to be able to talk to him about this was quite extraordinary.

Why do you think viewers connect with these two shows, especially right now?

Well, I think for "Handmaid’s," of course, the timeliness, what we’re all facing not just in our country but in the world. How wonderful to put a name and a face and a story to those fears and to remind us to pay attention and to stay awake and alert and to not pretend it’s not happening. "Handmaid’s Tale" offers that opportunity, and that’s a fantastic thing. "Leftovers," to me, is profound in its handling of grief and loss and the nonlinear way that story is told. The power behind it, I don’t know that I’ve ever been more deeply affected by anything than I have been by "Leftovers" and now with "Handmaid’s."

How do you plan on celebrating?

You know, I have no idea. Those lovely feelings are just starting to sink in. I’m walking around again barefoot in my sweet little place and just happy, and that’s celebration right there.

Billy Eichner (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times) Reese Witherspoon, left, and Nicole Kidman of "Big Little Lies." (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

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