Before ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ Annie Murphy nearly quit acting. Now she’s an Emmy nominee

Actress Annie Murphy from "Schitt's Creek"
Actress Annie Murphy from “Schitt’s Creek” photographed using the Huji photo app. Murphy has been nominated for an Emmy.
(Antoine Yared)

Before she was cast as Alexis Rose in “Schitt’s Creek,” the little sitcom that could, Annie Murphy, finding little success, was on the verge of giving up.

“I had a big snotty cry in the Pacific Ocean that I was 100% sure that acting wasn’t for me, and the next day I got the audition for ‘Schitt’s Creek,’” she said Tuesday morning over the phone from Toronto, “and it changed my life in so many incredible ways.”

Now, six years later, she has an Emmy nomination (for supporting actress in a comedy series), as do the other members of her TV kin — Catherine O’Hara as Moira Rose and co-creators Eugene Levy and Dan Levy as Johnny and David Rose, a suddenly poor rich family forced into close quarters in a small-town motel — alongside various and sundry behind-the-camera artists.

“I could not be more grateful to be part of a show that was so positively received,” Murphy said, “and that also celebrated love, inclusivity and acceptance — very, very important things everyone needs right now.”

‘Schitt’s Creek’ star and comedy veteran Catherine O’Hara finds the subtleties in the seemingly outrageous Moira Rose. That deserves an Emmy.


How are you this morning?

It’s been a pretty good morning. I got up early, there were pancakes, there was bacon, there was coffee, and then there was the nomination. So, yeah, it’s been a lovely day so far.

Did you have any premonitions? Did you feel lucky?

I was feeling lucky for Eugene and Catherine, and I’m so, so, so glad that they got their nominations. But also it’s just, this being our last season and having writing and directing and hair and makeup and costumes and everyone recognized all across the board, is so incredible, because it’s such a wonderful group of very, very, very talented people, and I’m just so chuffed that everyone is getting the recognition that they deserve.

Alexis had quite an emotional final season. Were there any scenes that stood out for you?

Oh, yeah, there were lots of emotional scenes this year. The breakup scene with [boyfriend] Ted and Alexis stood out, also because Dustin Milligan, who plays Ted, it was one of his very last days on the set — so that was a kind of a goodbye to our characters and a goodbye to working together at the same time. And then the very last scene we shot, saying goodbye to Johnny and Moira, was my very last scene and Dan’s very last scene of the whole series, so I feel like you can see a lot of Dan Levy and Annie Murphy having a therapeutic cry and not so much Alexis and David Rose. But tears came. Let’s just say they were character tears.

Annie Murphy fusses with Dan Levy before Schitt's Creek Live at the theatre at the Ace Hotel.
Actors Annie Murphy and Dan Levy pose for a photograph backstage before Schitt’s Creek Live at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel on Sept. 23, 2018 in Los Angeles.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

Now that it’s been a year since you wrapped, what’s your emotional state?

[Laughs] It’s a hard-hitting question. I am sending vibes to Dan every other day to write another season or do a movie. I miss everyone so much, and it kind of comes in waves — I’m fine for a few weeks and then I realize I don’t have the show to go back to, where I’d be seeing all those faces all together again. But I had six of the best years of my life shooting that show, and have created so many friendships with so many really incredible people. So I said goodbye to the characters, but not the people behind them. I feel really lucky about that.

Can you remember the moment when you first felt at home on the show?

Honestly, I was so, so nervous to start because I realized, like, the night before [that] I would have to be acting with my comedy idols. But after the first few takes of the first scene the four of us shot together, it was when Catherine O’Hara was like, “OK, how about we try it like this?” and it was so obvious that it was a collaborative, fun, exciting togetherness that was happening. And that kind of set the tone for the next six years.

The 2020 Emmy nominations are being announced Tuesday morning by host Leslie Jones, alongside presenters Laverne Cox, Josh Gad and Tatiana Maslany.

How do you feel about where the series took Alexis?

I am so grateful to the writers for writing such a beautiful character arc for Alexis. Because when we met her, she was a real handful. But was also a real handful with a lot to offer and a lot of layers to peel back, and I’m just so appreciative of having those layers pulled back over the seasons. We started with a very dependent, needy, man-chasing girl, and ended with this independent woman. She grew so much and I was just so grateful to be able to play a character who developed so beautifully.

One last question. When you’re out in the world do people flash Alexis’ limp hands at you?

Yes, oftentimes people just kind of contort their faces in a bizarre way and flap their wrists at me. And it’ll never get old.