Nominations, praise piling up for ‘Dannemora’

Director Ben Stiller: Take chances to do something ‘special’
Paul Dano, left, and Benicio Del Toro play the real-life prison escapees David Sweat and Richard Matt in “Escape at Dannemora.”
Paul Dano, left, and Benicio Del Toro play the real-life prison escapees David Sweat and Richard Matt in “Escape at Dannemora.”

PLATTSBURGH — No matter how the laurels settle from the many award nominations for “Escape at Dannemora,” director Ben Stiller will walk away with more tools in his actor’s arsenal.

All of his experiences as an actor have unconsciously informed his directing.

“Because you have had those experiences and you see how different directors work,” said Stiller, in an interview before the Plattsburgh premiere of the first episode of the miniseries.

“And every director is different, and you can get great things from different directors. I don’t consciously go, ‘This director did this or this guy did that, I’m going to do that.’

“But, sometimes I do take an idea that I thought helped me as an actor, because I think as a director one of the main goals is to make the actors feel comfortable and free and safe so that they can take chances and know that if they do something that doesn’t work, it’s OK because you’ve got to take those chances to find something that’s special.”


The accolades keep coming for the Showtime hit limited-miniseries, currently airing the fifth episode of seven.

The show stars Benicio del Toro (Richard Matt), Patricia Arquette (Joyce “Tillie” Mitchell) and Paul Dano (David Sweat) in a gritty, prison-romance triangle.

Based on the two convicted murderers’ infamous 2015 breakout from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, the miniseries has been nominated for two Golden Globe awards and five Critics’ Choice awards.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe nominations included the series in the category of Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture.

Arquette’s portrayal of Mitchell, the civilian tailor supervisor who assisted the inmates in their bid for freedom, was nominated for Best Actress in that category.

The 76th Golden Globes Awards will be presented on Jan. 6.

Arquette received another nod from the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor for a Television Movie or Miniseries.

The 25th-annual SAG Awards ceremony will be held on Jan. 27.

For the Critics’ Choice Television Awards, the miniseries was nominated for Best Limited Series; Best Actor for Dano, Best Actor for Del Toro, Best Actress for Arquette; and Best Supporting Actor for Eric Lange, who plays Lyle Mitchell, Tillie’s husband, who also works at the prison.

The Critics Choice awards will be announced on Jan. 13.


Stiller’s cast took the risks in “Escape at Dannemora,” and critics and fans are noticing.

Bonnie Hunt portrayed New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.

Dave Morse portrayed the conflicted correction officer Gene Palmer.

Jeremy Bobb portrayed a correction officer who was Lyle’s friend and moral compass.

Michael Imperioli made a guest appearance as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who green lighted the project when the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision was as immovable as Clinton Correctional’s towering wall on the project.

“So for me on this project working with these actors who are very accomplished, I felt I learned more about acting as a director on this one that I will probably take to my next role as an actor because I was just able to watch their process,” Stiller said.

“I was really impressed with all of their processes and being able to help them in whatever way.

“But they all came to the table with very clear ideas of what they wanted to do in very different ways. Each actor is very different, so it was very fun to watch them work.”

Categories: Life & Arts

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