"Someone asked me the other day, 'Are you super-nervous?' And I'm really not right now," says the former
"I've been to the Emmys before, though I've never been individually nominated. But I'm really just going to enjoy myself. I'm excited to see friends," adds the co-star of the
Last weekend, Charles flew out to Los Angeles from New York, where he lives, to do an Emmy roundtable discussion with other first-time nominees. While he was connecting and re-connecting with new and old acting colleagues, he says, the awards show experience came into focus.
"I got to see friends like
"And that's really what it's about. In this business, there's so much built around competition that I have a kind of mixed feeling about any kind of awards show, to be honest with you," Charles adds. "That doesn't mean that I'm not really flattered and touched [by the nomination]. Look, I'm going out there [to Los Angeles], so I don't want to sound like a hypocrite. But it's just that I want to embrace it as a celebration for all the people whose work has been recognized, all the creative people, as opposed to who's going to win or not win."
The best-supporting-actor category in which he is nominated is filled with friends, according to Charles. His relationship with two of the other nominees goes back more than 20 years, when they were starting out and appeared in the made-for-TV move "Murder in Mississippi," a compelling and socially conscious 1990 production about Mississippi in the summer of 1964. The film revisits the death of three civil rights workers — Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner.
That major role in the civil rights docu-drama came for Charles only two years after his 1988 debut in
In addition to his current role in "The Good Wife," which is generally considered the one network drama worthy of comparison to such cable productions as "
"He's always been pretty selective in what he wanted to do," said Stan Charles, the actor's uncle and publisher of Baltimore's "The PressBox," "Quality has always meant something to him, and that's why I'm so happy that he's finally at this point in his career where he's been able to match quality with hitting a mass audience in something that's smartly written and presented."
After more than two decades of hard and selective work, Charles acknowledges that "it feels very nice to have somebody decide for whatever reason that your name is in the hat this year. Whoever decides that, I'm happy that they did."
In addition to "just enjoying" the nomination and "soaking up" the fellowship of his acting colleagues, whom Charles describes as his "allies," the Baltimore native had something else to celebrate this Emmy week: Thursday was his birthday, and it was a big one.
"Yeah, I'm 40 now, but try not to highlight that too much in the article, would you?" he said jokingly. "Don't kick a man when he's down. You can say it's my birthday, but let's leave the 40 out a little bit, you know what I mean?"
But Charles is all seriousness again when he's asked if the nomination has changed his life in any significant way.
"I don't think anyone is treating me any differently or anything," he says after giving it some thought. "These kinds of things just help grease the wheel a little bit, that's all. They just WD40 things along so that they move a little smoother, and it maybe helps someone put a face to a name a little more easily."