Emily Mortimer Panicked Before 'Newsroom' Prep

Linsey Davis

Before jumping into "The Newsroom," the HBO drama she stars in with Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer spent some time analyzing — you guessed it — real, live newsrooms.

"The first was just sort of blind panic," she said about her initial reaction to landing the role of the neurotic super producer Mackenzie MacHale. But then she called a friend in London "who actually does the job for real. She's a real life news producer."(Ironically, her friend produces the BBC Two's "Newsnight," the same name of the fictional show on "The Newsroom."

After that, she dove in.

"I went to CNN in New York for a day and shadowed a female producer there," Mortimer said. "And that was incredibly instructive."

As for her specific inspiration, Mortimer pointed to ABC's Christiane Amanpour.

"I think [she] is just a rock star beyond all rock stars," she said, "and she manages to do what she does with such sort of class and elegance and again never seems like a terrifying battle axe. But it must be incredibly tough in order to do what she does. She sort of defines what it is to be a classy strong woman in the news."