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Pacino vies for second Emmy

'Special Relationship' puts Sheen, Quaid in movie mix

Lead Actor – Drama | Lead Actor – Comedy | Supporting Actor – Drama | Supporting Actor – Comedy | Lead Actor – Mini/Movie
Gallery: The Actor Nominees

You don’t often get actors with such bigscreen gravitas as Al Pacino, Ian McKellen, Dennis Quaid and Jeff Bridges to partake in the Emmys, but this year is an exception.

HBO has swept this category in the past, and it maintains its dominance this year: Four of the five nominees’ pics are part of the pay cabler’s portfolio, including Quaid and Michael Sheen as Bill Clinton and England prime minister Tony Blair, respectively, in the Peter Morgan-scripted “The Special Relationship.” Both actors deliver nuanced, pitch-perfect portrayals of two incredibly well-known subjects, and Blair has made a nice living in his interpretations of Blair. It’s his third go of it, after portraying him in “The Deal” and “The Queen.”

Pacino, the group’s only former Emmy winner (for “Angels in America”), impressed critics and audiences in “You Don’t Know Jack” for his perf as the titular Dr. Kevorkian, whose devotion to euthanasia was highly controversial for decades.

Bridges, the final HBO nom, lumbers through “A Dog Year” as a fiftysomething author afflicted by a writer’s block, a midlife crisis and a dog that won’t stop chasing anything that moves.

Rounding out the nominees is McKellen, who’s no stranger to Emmy. In AMC’s reboot of the 1960s sci-fi series “The Prisoner,” McKellen plays the cunning leader of the dystopian, futuristic “Village.” If he wins, AMC will have its second win for its second nomination in the category, following Robert Duvall’s 2007 victory for “Broken Trail.”

Jeff Bridges
“A Dog Year”
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: Shepherded by dog trainer Lois Smith, Bridges’ Jon Katz quickly realizes that his jumpy border collie is out of control because of his own inability to step up as a disciplined dog owner.
Why he might win: Fresh off his first Oscar win for “Crazy Heart,” Bridges brings his considerable presence to the role of a curmudgeonly author who needs training in human relations as much as his border collie needs training on herding sheep.
Maybe not: Compared to the other nominated films, “A Dog Year” is much lighter fare. Critics described this sentimental drama as more Hallmark than HBO.

Ian McKellen
“The Prisoner”
Emmy pedigree: Four previous noms
Best scene: McKellen, playing a coldly calculating and otherwise nameless “Number Two,” ushers his ailing wife — who’s normally drugged and nearly unconscious — to the dinner table and tenderly feeds her.
Why he might win: An acting icon who’s never won an Emmy, McKellen’s depiction of the fearsome, mysterious Number Two is unforgettably chilling.
Maybe not: Despite his scene-stealing presence, McKellen’s role in the spy-fi mini is secondary to its main protagonist, played by Jim Caviezel.

Al Pacino
“You Don’t Know Jack”
Emmy pedigree: One win
Best scene: Although Pacino’s Kevorkian is unemotional during nearly all of the suicides he attends, he has a poignant final conversation with his close friend — played by Susan Sarandon — as he helps her commit suicide.
Why he might win: Pacino’s transformation, which included a Michigan accent and drab wardrobe that render him nearly unrecognizable, will have its fan base among the TV Acad.
Maybe not: Voters might be concerned by the perception that marking their ballots for Pacino means they’re nothing but goo-goo eyed over the category’s biggest star.

Dennis Quaid
“The Special Relationship”
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: On the morning President Clinton confesses to Hillary that he did have sex with “that woman,” Quaid drops his self-assured POTUS performance for a moment dripping with self-loathing.
Why he might win: Hard to believe this is Quaid’s first Emmy nod, and taking on the role of a president — and one of the most recognizable citizens in the world — is a brave feat.
Maybe not: On the other hand, by impersonating Clinton, some may be too picky in what he did and didn’t do for his take on the former commander-in-chief.

Michael Sheen
“The Special Relationship”
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: Betrayed by Clinton’s refusal to send ground troops to Kosovo, Sheen’s Blair angrily prepares for a speech criticizing Clinton. It was Blair’s first public break with the senior partner in the countries’ special relationship.
Why he might win: While Sheen has taken residence at 10 Downing St. three times, this perf shows the British prime minister’s development from humble politician to ambitious world leader.
Maybe not: Sheen makes it look so easy, and we’re so accustomed to him taking on the role, voters may not consider Sheen’s portrayal much of a stretch.

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