Glee's Dot-Marie Jones Talks Emmy Nod, Season 4 Status, Loving/Hating Her Pivotal Episode

dot marie jones emmyDot-Marie Jones is carrying a lot of weight on her shoulders — and not just because her character on Glee, football coach Shannon Beiste, could bench-press an anvil. Rather, as the only member of Glee‘s cast to score a 2012 Emmy nomination, Jones says she feels an added pressure to do her costars proud.

TVLine caught up with the actress to discuss how she reacted when she first learned her character would be involved in a harrowing domestic-abuse arc, why she had a love-hate relationship with said storyline, and whether or not she’ll be back for Season 4.

TVLINE | Congrats on your second straight nomination in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series category. How does it feel to be the lone cast member from Glee to get a nod this year?
I still can’t believe it. Lea [Michele], Naya [Rivera] and Chris [Colfer] all were fantastic, as well as Max Adler this year. And Jane Lynch and the show itself, too. I’m proud of the show because cinematography and makeup were also nominated, so that’s fantastic. But it’s weird being the only one [from the cast].

RELATED | Emmy Nominations 2012: The 37 Biggest Snubs

TVLINE | Coach Beiste’s domestic abuse story arc came late in the season — in the episodes “Choke” and “Props,” to be specific. Did you know before you got the scripts that she was going to become a victim of battery at the hands of her new husband? And what was your initial response?
When I read the first script for the episode I was nominated for, “Choke,”  I was bawling. I couldn’t put it down. And then Ryan [Murphy] called me and asked, “Are you okay with this?” I said, “Oh my God, this is amazing.” For me, this is 21 years of acting, and to get something that’s not just a big tough chick, but is so substantial, so huge, and so important to young girls and boys out there, was just wow. This [type of violence] happens in real life, and it’s not okay. It’s weird because I want to say I loved doing this episode, since it was so emotionally charged. But in the same sense, I hated doing it.

RELATED | Emmy Nominees React! Who Said What?

TVLINE | How so?
You never want to be in that position. Thank God, I’ve never been through it, but there are so many women who deal with this on a daily basis. I’ve gotten Twitter responses, emails, Facebook posts from people who are so thankful to have this portrayed. I wanted to do it justice, and not disrespect anybody who had been through that. The people I heard from were so thankful for that episode, and a lot of them were telling me it gave them strength. The fact that you have that kind of power is mind-blowing. All that goes to the writers because they’re the ones who came up with it. I just did what they wrote, brought it to life as best I could. And I’m thankful it came across as good as it did, or I obviously wouldn’t be in this situation [of getting an Emmy nod].

TVLINE | On the surface, Shannon Beiste would’ve been one of the last characters you’d expect to be a victim of domestic abuse. But as we’ve delved deeper into her character, it’s actually not so surprising.
That just goes to show you don’t judge a book by its cover. Physical stature has nothing to do with emotional vulnerability people may have.

TVLINE | Watching “Choke,” I had this initial fear the writers were trying to wrap up this storyline in one hour, but at the end, you realize Shannon hasn’t left Cooter, that she’s in fact walked back into that house and bought his excuses.
Ryan and I were talking about it: Too often, people in real-life situations like this don’t just leave. It takes reaching that last straw or mustering up every ounce of courage to get the hell out. I love that Ryan didn’t do that in one episode. And after “Choke,” we had one [episode where Beiste’s story wasn’t mentioned], and then we came back the following week, and I had these incredible scenes with Mark Salling, who is just awesome.

TVLINE | Is it strange to be nominated in a comedy category for an episode where your performance was quite serious, quite dramatic?
I thought about that last year when I was nominated, and it’s a performance in a comedy series, not necessarily a comedic performance, so that’s how I look at that.

TVLINE | What’s your status for Season 4?
I’m not in the first couple episodes, but I am coming back.

TVLINE | Do you think Coach Beiste’s relationship with Cooter is done completely, or does she have more struggle ahead of her?
I don’t even try to second guess Ryan and the writers. You could think totally one way, and you get the next script and it changes direction 180 degrees. I’m sure there will be great stuff in the next season, but to what extreme, I don’t know. All I know is I can’t wait to get a script.

TVLINE | So when you say you’ll be back, is there a specific episode you’re returning for? Is there a timetable?
I don’t know yet. I definitely know I’m coming back as a guest star. As to how much or how many episodes, I’m not sure yet. Hopefully today changes that. I pray to God it changes it.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. John says:

    I disagree with her about Max Adler. Chris Colfer carried those scenes completely.

    • I disagree with you, John. Max Adler did a phenomenal job.

      Congratulations to Dot – a much-deserved nomination. Doubtful, but I’d love to see her take the gong. She does so much with so little.

    • Fran says:

      Are you kidding? I thought Max Adler was wonderful.

    • aunt_deen says:

      Max Adler has been brilliant from the start. To take such a two-dimensional character (which he played really well) to someone so conflicted and complicated and make it believeable?

      Hats off to him. I was really expecting him to get a nom.

    • Alex says:

      Max’s acting was phenomenal in the Cough Syrup scene. Sorry you can’t see that.

    • Nick says:

      HA what? I have never felt more emotional during an episode of Glee than I did during Max’s scenes. Especially his attempted suicide, that hit close to home. He was phenomenal. And Chris Colfer and his costars would totally disagree with you.

      I love Max Adler and I really hope they bring him back.

    • sm says:

      Totally disagree with you. Max was wonderful this season. Chris Colfer was wonderful last season. I wish Max was recognized for his wonderful performances. But Dot Marie was wonderful as well and greatly deserves to be recognized for her outstanding performances. The field of competition is fierce, so, I hope that she wins.

  2. Chris says:

    Glad to see her nominated. I remember reading criticisms that her abuse was out of the blue — when I don’t think that is the case. How many people look at another couples relationship and make the assumption that all is ok, when, behind closes doors, it isn’t. Doesn’t that come as a surprise? I think that is more to true life then anything and certainly one of the most real true life situations put forward on Glee. I wish her luck in Sept and am glad that she will be returning to the show.

    • jenna says:

      That’s exactly how it is. Being a survivor of domestic violence i know how it is. No one on the outside knows. Infact most of the time everyone thinks you have one heck of a great guy. The reasoning is not only will the abuser do anything in his power to portray a picture of a great relationship….but even as the victim….often out of shame and fear you cover up the reality..with thick THICK icing….so thick it hurts your teeth. So when the abuse finally surfaces…and that icing is licked off….most people are quite shocked…even in disbelief of the situation “he was such a nice guy”…. yeah… WAS.

  3. Linda says:

    I love Coach Beiste. Dot-Marie Jones and the writers have done fantastic things with her character. Glad to hear she will be back.

  4. aunt_deen says:

    She pulled off a storyline I did not think was going to work.

    And I remain a little disappointed that it went in that direction because I loved Cooter at the start and I was really glad they put Bieste in a happy marriage. To see it become so ugly and demoralizing was a bit upsetting.

    But Dot Marie Jones completely deserves this nomination. Hoping like crazy to see her making an acceptance speech.

  5. Lisa Gabbard says:

    LOVE her! And, yes, the “average” survivor returns to an abusive partner 7-9 times before eventually escaping for good. So that part of the story line is very realistic. In addition, the time of separation is the most dangerous for survivors, so returning may be what saves some people’s lives. I’m glad that the show is making this story true-to-life.

  6. BTM says:

    I helped write software for the Marine Corps to track cases of domestic abuse. More often than you’d think would happen, male Marines were the abuse victims. They had the worst of both sides: ashamed of being abused but unwilling to defend themselves and because they might hurt their wives.

    Shannon’s story rings very true. If she fought back, the physically inferior Cooter would land in the hospital. Add her good soul to the mix…

  7. Pete says:

    She did well with a poorly written storyline. But Glee didn’t really deserve any Emmy nominations this year.

  8. Jennie Agnew says:

    unfortunately I can speak from experience and Lisa is right on all counts.

  9. H says:

    Please no more PSAs

    • sm says:

      Glee since the start of season 2 began a platform of informative topics for the younger viewer to watch. When season 3 started the PSA’s just multiplied into short concise to being choppy, some inspirational, some unnerving to the point of ridiculous story lines for a comedy series. I became very unimpressed with season 3 and the PSA over-load. I reiterate No More PSA’s.

  10. chris says:

    i’m so happy to see Dot nominated — she so deserves to be nominated, she could have taken a nothing role and made it so emotionally moving. I think she has a good chance to win.

    • Chris says:

      When they first cast her and the character of Coach Beiste, I feared it was going to be a one note punchline. So glad that it didn’t go down that way.
      *not the same chris*

  11. BSP says:

    I disagree with everyone Lord Tubbington totally deserved a guest star nom. He went through an ecstasy addiction that some real serious stuff. He got snubbed. LT says so much with his eyes.

  12. CJ says:

    Love Love Love the episodes with Coach Beiste….they are touching and a reminder that bullying can happen to anyone at any age.

  13. Sarah says:

    Love that Dot was nominated, she did an amazing job with what she was given. It’s nice of her to recognise the cast members who were overlooked this year as well, especially those as deserving as Naya and Max. Both actors turned what were initially merely one dimensional characters into two of the most complex protagonists on the show, and it’s a shame they weren’t recognised for it.

  14. Tanya Young says:

    It seems that most people think that abusers start out hitting on their victims, but it starts emotionally and mentally first. The physical abuse comes after that person knows that he or she has that person emotionally and mentally trapped. So this storyline was best worked through a character that appeared to be physically capable to defend herself.

  15. Pat Graney says:

    I am so glad Dot-Marie Jones got a nomination. I also wish to actor who played the Max Adler character’s father had gotten a nomination; his scene where he finds his son hanging, and cuts him down, was superb!

  16. Lyli says:

    They need to sign her as a regular already

  17. j says:

    Dot deserves it!!! I think Max Adler should have been nominated

  18. Sarah says:

    I’m kinda upset that Matt Bomer didn’t get a nod. He really was brilliant as Cooper Anderson. On a different note~I am always blown away by Chris Colfer. He is always great no matter what he does. And Glee as his first REAL job..amazing.

    • sm says:

      I agree about Matt Bomer. But Jeff Goldblum as Hiram Berry was hysterically funny too. The two funniest episodes this season IMO. Chris Colfer was outstanding season 2, he was good this season. He didn’t have much to work with.

  19. Jak Viceroy says:

    Dot needs to be a series regular, we, or at least I need more Beiste, I love her, come on Ryan what are you playing at, I want to see Dot’s name on the start list every week, even if she may miss an episode or two but then which character is in EVERY episode, just do it, sign her on permanant.