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‘It is what it is’: Mark Duplass talks first Emmy nomination for ‘Wild Wild Country’

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Producer Mark Duplass discusses “Wild Wild Country” at its screening at the Raleigh Studios.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

Netflix’s “Wild Wild Country,” about an Oregon religious group — sex cult? — led by the Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, snagged an Emmy nomination on Wednesday for outstanding documentary series. It is executive producer Mark Duplass’ first Emmy nomination.

But at home in his pajamas, shortly after learning of the award nomination, Duplass seemed mostly pleased for series directors Maclain Way and Chapman Way.

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You seem so calm, business as usual today…

You know, I’m in my house having my second cup of coffee. I just finished dropping off my niece at her acting class. Emmy noms are incredible to bring awareness to the show, but the truth of the matter is: It is what it is. It’s not something I’m gonna stop my life for. I’d say the predominant feeling is just pride for the Way brothers.

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I’m a producer on the show and I did help them in terms of giving them the framework and support they needed — wrapping our arms around them like an uncle — but for me to take any creative credit for how great the series is would be false. I think my contribution was valuable, but from the creative side, it really was all them.

Netflix cleaned up this year, with more nominations than any other network. What’s it like to be part of the Netflix family right now?

I come from a broken, mixed family in that I’m also a part of the HBO family, too. So I want all my parents to get along! I’d be happy for both. I do feel very privileged and lucky that Netflix is using some of its economic prowess to invest in sociopolitical documentaries like “Wild Wild Country.” It’s really cool that they did that and put such a nice campaign behind us. But as for the whole race, who gets more nominations, I get why others have agendas with that, but it doesn’t mean that much to me.

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Were you surprised by the Emmy nomination at all?

I wasn’t surprised. If I had to bet on it, I would have, just based on how it hit the zeitgeist and how many people have responded. I think this is the most consistent and widespread positive feedback I’ve ever gotten of any project. I think it clicked in a deep way.

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Why do you think it resonated so deeply?

In a nutshell, documentaries are having a moment right now and shows like “The Jinx” and “Making a Murderer” paved the way for shows like “Wild Wild Country.”

Also, I think people were ultimately identifying with a movement that was so obsessed with carving out its niche that they were willing to poison people to do it. People identified with that. And they also identified with a predominantly white, arguably xenophobic township that was trying to keep “the other” away from them because they didn’t understand it. And these are things right now that [resonate] – we’re living in a divided country, needless to say. So I was really psyched to see audiences at the very least sort of identify, on small levels, with two wildly polar opposite viewpoints.

What does the rest of your day look like — any plans to celebrate your first Emmy nomination?

100% I will be working today. And tonight I’m cooking dinner with our two daughters and watching “Problem Child 2” — it’s business as usual!

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