Nathan Lane on being the most-nominated guest actor in Emmy history : Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Nathan Lane, star of stage and screen, plays our game about Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. He is joined by guest host Tom Papa and panelists Cristela Alonzo, Josh Gondelman and Matt Rogers.

Nathan Lane on being the most-nominated guest actor in Emmy history

Nathan Lane on being the most-nominated guest actor in Emmy history

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Nathan Lane Amy Sussman/Getty Images hide caption

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Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Nathan Lane

Amy Sussman/Getty Images

If award shows had all-stars, Nathan Lane would be the first pick every year. The legendary actor has been nominated for six Tonys, seven Emmys, two golden globes, and probably an ESPY at some point. Now, he's nominated for yet another Emmy for his role in Only Murders in the Building.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tom Papa: You are the most nominated guest actor in Emmy history. Are you excited for the seventh ceremony and will you get to attend?

Nathan Lane: Well, you know what they do. They give out the guest actor category at the Creative Arts Emmys, which is held in a warehouse somewhere. They usually tell you not to go to the Creative Arts Emmys. You just sort of wait and see if you win. And then if you win, they allow you to go to the big boy nighttime Emmys and present there.

And have you gone before?

Well, I went the very first time. And then I learned not to go to them anymore. And I was right because I haven't won! Even though I made f***ing Emmy history recently! I've never won one before.

You're so iconic now. I can imagine people are just like, "How are we going to make this better? Just get Nathan Lane." But you worked really hard for a lot of years, you worked a number of odd jobs when you started looking for acting work in the early eighties. Is it true you were a singing telegram?

Yes. I moved to New York in the late seventies and I delivered a singing telegrams. You would put on a tuxedo and a little bellhop hat and you would go to offices or people's homes and usually [sing] to a public domain. I don't know why it had to be a public domain song, like who was checking about royalties? I don't know, but to the tune of the William Tell overture you would sing "It's your day, it's your day, your day is here! So we're sending you a musical cheer!"

Was it ever poorly received when you got there, finished your song and tipped your top hat?

If you go to someone's office and you have to sing to them, they hate that. They REALLY hate that. It's embarrassing for them and it's embarrassing for me. And they rarely would tip you!

You're nominated for this guest role and you're so good in Only Murders in the Building, and it's very intriguing because it's a whodunit and it really pulls you in. Do they make you sign anything? Are you allowed to give away secrets?

No, what do you wanna know? You know, it's really a tribute to those writers. It's a very delicate balance and they really pull it off.

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