‘Jury Duty’ Fan Favorite Ronald Gladden Was James Marsden’s First Call After His 2023 Emmy Nomination
James Marsden and the Jury Duty cast are overjoyed by their four Emmy nominations.
Marsden, 49, and the cast have “many, many big plans for celebration” after the announcement Wednesday morning, he tells PEOPLE. The first celebration began with Marsden’s initial phone call to none other than his unwitting costar Ronald Gladden.
“I just wanted that to be my first call and make sure he’s still enjoying all of this, and feeling like we’re all going through it together,” Marsden said. Of Gladden — who was the only cast member who didn’t know the show was a mockumentary — he adds, “He’s over the moon.”
On Wednesday, Jury Duty picked up four nods, including outstanding comedy series, outstanding writing in a comedy series, outstanding casting for a comedy series and Marsden’s own recognition among the outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series nominees.
The Freevee show, which premiered in April, offered a unique concept — one out of bounds from Marsden’s past roles. He’s known for structured productions like the Enchanted films, Hairspray and Netflix’s Dead to Me. (Marsden also gushed about his Dead to Me costar Christina Applegate for her lead actress in a comedy series nomination saying, “That made me happier than my nomination, to be honest.”)
Jury Duty followed a cast of actors who played the quirky roles of American citizens called to serve on a jury — as well as one non-actor, Gladden, who thought the whole experience was real.
It was a strike of lightning for the cast — even shocking Marsden who wasn’t sure how Jury Duty would hold its own compared to the mostly structured entertainment space. “I’m very proud of how it turned out. I’ve never experienced this degree or spectrum — from the beginning in some dusty old courthouse south of Los Angeles,” he says. “All of the creature comforts, your dressing room and hair and makeup and action and cut — we didn’t have any of that.”
Marsden compares the filming experience to “flying without a net.” And the risk paid off. “Cut to all of us celebrating today with these nominations, it’s like, boy, I did not see this coming,” he adds. “I really didn’t. You cross your fingers and hope that something this ambitious and this unproven ends up working. But I did not anticipate the reaction that this show has gotten.”
The documentary-style series aired 8 episodes, all of which featured wild plot twists — from a sequestered jury to Gladden being named as the jury’s foreperson. Gladden received praise from all corners of the Internet — as well as his costars — for his kind demeanor throughout the unpredictable, and undeniably comical, experience. Marsden made a silent promise in the setting to put all jokes on the actors — never on the unknowing Gladden.
He rationalized, “I’m gonna have the best time, and I’m gonna make sure that I’m making an ass of myself — but not do anything to make [Ronald] feel embarrassed or humiliated,” Marsden says. “He was not the butt of any of the jokes.”
For Gladden, it took “months” to process that the entire series was fake. He previously told PEOPLE, “I’m not kidding, months and months down the road after this I was still getting hit with things like, Oh wow, was that staged, was that fake, was that an actor?” Gladden said. “It took months for me to come to the realization that this actually happened and to accept it.”
With its many nominations, it seems certain the Jury Duty cast will get tickets to the 2023 Emmy Awards on Sept. 23 — which could mean non-actor Gladden gets a front row seat to all the Hollywood action.