Everybody's Getting Into the ActAn embarrassment of acting performance riches could lead to wildcards among the favorites 6/18/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern
With more than 80 dramas
and 60 comedies expected to vie
for Emmy nominations, there is
no shortage of talented actors to consider for
television’s top prizes.
Actors who star in Emmy faves—AMC’s
Mad Men and Breaking Bad, ABC’s Modern
Family—typically have an advantage. But
last year, there were some surprises: Kyle
Chandler earning the nod for Best Actor in a
Drama Series for his emotional portrayal of
Coach Eric Taylor in DirecTV’s Friday Night
Lights, and Margo Martindale scoring a win
for FX’s gritty Justified.
Chandler and FNL are out of the running
this season, but the race for Best Actor
in a Drama should once again be a nail-biter.
Mad Men’s Jon Hamm is a shoo-in to earn his fifth nomination after the show just turned
in a very strong fifth season. But threetime
winner Bryan Cranston of Breaking
Bad has won every time he has been nominated,
and he’s back again after being
out of contention last year. Boardwalk Empire’s
Steve Buscemi—coming off a huge dramatic
arc for his character, Nucky Thompson—
also should pull in a second nomination.
Showtime’s rookie Homeland has been
sweeping awards shows this year, winning
the best drama Golden Globe, so Globe nominee
Damien Lewis is likely to find his name
among the contenders come Emmy night.
And House’s Hugh Laurie, who has been nominated
six times for his performance as the
cranky Gregory House, could convince Emmy
to give him the win as an acknowledgement of
nine years of sterling work. Five-time Emmywinner
Kelsey Grammer, who won a surprise
Golden Globe last year for his portrayal of
Boss’ corrupt Chicago mayor Tom Kane, also
has to be considered a threat.
So far, Emmy has mostly ignored FX’s
Peabody-winning Justified, with the exception
of Martindale. Still, Timothy Olyphant
is the center of that show, giving him a good
shot at a repeat nod. Dexter’s Michael C.
Hall, who has also been oft-nominated for
his role as a serial killer on a moral mission,
also remains a threat, but Dexter’s star is
fading as that show ages.
The supporting actor categories are among
the most competitive of any at the Emmys
because there are so many actors in contention.
Anyone who watched HBO’s Game of
Thrones last season was thrilled to see Peter
Dinklage, who turned in a pitch-perfect performance
as Tyrion “The Imp” Lannister,
take home the trophy. Dinklage was no less
solid or central in the show’s arguably more
compelling second season, making him a
strong contender to repeat.
This year, however, Breaking Bad’s Aaron
Paul, the 2010 winner, is back in contention,
making this a race to watch.
Last year, two of this category’s nominees came from CBS’ The Good Wife, with both
Josh Charles and Alan Cumming in the running.
Charles had several dramatic arcs to
play out this past season, putting him in
solid contention for a repeat nod. Mad Men’s
John Slattery, who gets all of the show’s best
lines, and Justified’s fan favorite, Walter Goggins,
also could hear their names announced
Possible new entries to this category include
Mad Men’s Jared Harris, who played the
tragic Lane Pryce, and any number among
Boardwalk Empire’s talented cast, including
Michael Pitt, whose fate took a Sopranos-like
turn in the show’s season-two finale.
There’s an equally strong contingent of
dramatic actresses to consider this year, with
last year’s winner, The Good Wife’s Juliana
Margulies, back to compete again. This category
could see some shake-ups with FNL’s
Connie Britton out of the running, and other
shows—AMC’s The Killing and NBC’s Harry’s
Law and Law & Order: SVU—on the wane
in terms of popularity. That said, it’s never
a good idea to bet against Emmy favorites
Kathy Bates of Harry’s Law and Mariska Hargitay
of SVU, so both could again find their
names among the nominees.
The smart money, however, is on Homeland’s
Claire Danes—who won an Emmy in 2010
for her title character portrayal in Temple
Grandin—with her breakout role as manicdepressive
FBI agent Carrie Mathison.
The women of Mad Men—2011 nominees
Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks and
newcomer Jessica Paré—all have a shot at
making the list, as do The Good Wife’s two
powerful females, 2010’s winner Archie Panjabi
and veteran Christine Baranski. Also, the
arrival of Downton Abbey into the drama category
could bring nominations to Elizabeth
McGovern, the incomparable Maggie Smith
and British newcomer Michelle Dockery.
“The thing about Downton is that the entire
thing is a pleasure,” says executive producer
Gareth Neame. “Every year a British miniseries
gets nominated, but it’s very rare to have
such a mainstream British show. We make
a very different noise than all of the other
shows in this category.”
Among TV’s funnymen, The Big Bang Theory’s
Jim Parsons should three-peat, especially after
a season in which the show held its own on
CBS on Thursdays at 8 p.m., beat American
Idol head-to-head and became a blockbuster
Unlike the women, few men broke out in
comedy this year, which should allow actors
such as Louie’s Louis C.K. and Curb Your Enthusiasm’s
Larry David to earn repeat nominations.
“Last year Louie was the most critically
acclaimed show in America,” claims John
Landgraf, president of FX. “Even though basic
cable has broken through in the Best Drama
area, part of what you are dealing with is
the sense that things that look beautiful on
their face, that scream excellence, are easier
to recognize than shows in which excellence
is buried under a rougher exterior.”
Big Bang’s Johnny Galecki and 30 Rock’s
two-time Emmy winner Alec Baldwin also
could be nominated again.
And a few long shots: The Office’s Ed
Helms, who took over from the multi-nominated
Steve Carell, and Community’s Joel
McHale, who is a critical favorite on the lowrated
It’s the women who are really going to have
to battle it out among the comedy categories,
with so many new female-led shows.
It’s been widely documented, but 2012
continues to prove that women can bring
the laughs. That’s a continuation of a trend
that started last year, when Bridesmaids was
such a breakthrough hit and Melissa McCarthy—
star of both that movie and CBS’ Mike
& Molly—brought home the Emmy for Outstanding
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
With new series such as Fox’s New Girl and
CBS’ 2 Broke Girls breaking out on the networks,
and HBO’s female-centric Veep and
Girls getting critical buzz, selecting the funniest
female is going to be challenging.
Likely to score a repeat nomination is 30
Rock’s Tina Fey, who has been nominated
every year for her starring role in the sitcom
she created, writes and produces; 30 Rock is
entering a final 13-episode season.
“It’s amazing how greedy a person can get,”
jokes Robert Carlock, executive producer of
30 Rock, whose show has won the comedy
series Emmy three times. “Ending it is bittersweet,
but the thing that’s always been most
important to me and to Tina was to end the
show on our terms creatively. That doesn’t
get to happen for a lot of shows, so we’re happy that we get to know when it’s ending.”
Showtime’s three female power comedies—
Nurse Jackie, The Big C and Weeds—
continue to straddle the line between laughs
and drama. Jackie star Edie Falco is a previous
winner for this part (and for her iconic
turn as Carmela Soprano). The Big C’s Laura
Linney is an Emmy favorite and a potential
Oscar nominee this year.
“I think it’s hard to predict in any given
year why the Emmys make the choices they
do,” says Richie Jackson, executive producer
of Nurse Jackie.
All three of Showtime’s dramedies are aging
and may be upstaged by HBO’s two upstarts,
Veep and Girls.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has won Emmy
awards for both Seinfeld and The New Adventures
of Old Christine, could sneak in and upset
in her role as a largely clueless vice president.
And Girls’ 26-year-old Lena Dunham
is such a tour de force this year—creating,
writing, producing and starring in HBO’s
homage to hipsters—that she is going to be
difficult to ignore.
Parks & Recreation’s Amy Poehler also
wrote and directed two episodes of the fan
favorite, in which she plays endearing city
employee and newly elected City Council
member Leslie Knope.
“Amy is a natural at everything she does,”
says Parks & Rec executive producer Mike
Schur. “If she doesn’t win an Emmy, I’m going
to be upset.”
Several new entries on the broadcast side
could show up in this category as well: New
Girl’s Zooey Deschanel is a strong contender,
and 2 Broke Girls’ Kat Dennings and Beth
Behrs are both possibilities.
In the supporting categories for both actors
and actresses, Modern Family has dominated
for the past two years, with the entire
cast being nominated last year and Ty
Burrell and Julie Bowen winning. Modern
Family didn’t weaken a bit in its third season,
so expect repeat nominations for that
Other possibilities include Glee’s Jane
Lynch, who won in 2010, and Kurt Colfer,
who was nominated last year. Parks & Rec’s
entire cast probably deserves nominations,
with special mentions to Chris Pratt, Adam
Scott, Nick Offerman and Asiz Ansari.
“Chris probably doesn’t have a chance in
hell of being nominated,” says Schur, “but he
is probably the funniest person on television.”
Other top supporting comedy actors include
John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson from The
Office and Community’s Danny Pudi and
Among the supporting women, 30 Rock’s
Jane Krakowski has already been nominated
three times. Saturday Night Live’s Kristen
Wiig has a good shot at a fourth nomination
for her multi-faceted performances on the
late-night show. Wiig has decided to leave
SNL, giving Emmy a good opportunity to