Road to the Emmys 2012: The Actor Nominees - Minis & Movies

The characters represented in the race for miniseries or movie actor have one thing in common: You wouldn’t want to tick them off.

Who would win in a physical fight is an intriguing question. Would it be the chilly Sherlock Holmes? Macho Ernest Hemingway? Hot-headed detective John Luther? Take-no-prisoners Republican strategist Steve Schmidt? The feud-friendly “Devil” Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy?

One thing, for sure: It would be a bloodbath.

The real-life much friendlier rivalry set up by the Academy also makes for an interesting contest.

Kevin Costner, Clive Owen and Woody Harrelson are all genuine movie stars with six Oscar noms between them. Bill Paxton is a marquee name and, although Benedict Cumberbatch may not be as familiar as the others here, that will likely change when he appears next year as the villain in the new “Star Trek” movie.

Finally, there’s Idris Elba. For those who didn’t follow “The Wire,” he may be an unknown, but he’s already picked up a Golden Globe for starring in BBC’s “Luther.” It’s set up to be one of the evening’s most star studded, and unpredicable, categories.

Gentlemen, be sure to play nice.

KEVIN COSTNER
“Hatfields & McCoys”
Disillusioned by the Civil War, “Devil” Anse Hatfield deserts his post and returns to his hometown to launch a successful timber business. But peace alludes him, both because of a rivalry with his the McCoys, but also by his inability to curb his violent streak.
Highlights:
• After coming out victorious in the infamous “pig stealing” trial, Hatfield attempts to bury the hatchet with McCoy, but somes up considerably short.
• Concerned that his son is displaying some loyalties to the McCoys, Hatfield seriously considers murdering him.

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Sherlock Holmes”
After escaping a near certain death at the hands of Moriarty, the unflappable detective gets “flapped” by Irene Adler, a dominatrix who attempts to blackmail the British government with racy photos of a royal figure. Holmes discovers cases aren’t so elementary when his heart plays tricks on the brain. The great sleuth has never been so challenged, and so vulnerable.
Highlights:
• Holmes first meets Adler, who successfully throws him off guard by introducing herself in the nude. His inability to read her appears to trigger frustration, intrigue and, perhaps, a touch of lust.
• Poor Molly Hooper is once again humiliated by her crush, Holmes, during a Christmas party on Baker Street. But instead of brushing off her hurt feelings, Holmes apologizes and gives her a peck on the cheek — a sign that he might be growing more human.

IDRIS ELBA
“Luther”
When we last left John Luther, his estranged wife had just been murdered. Luther is still recovering from the death when he’s reassigned to the “Serious and Serial” unit, which faces two hard cases: a serial killer who dons a Mr. Punch mask and a pair of twins who make their decisions by rolling a pair of dice. Despite his natural coolness, Luther shows signs of reaching out to others, particularly a damaged teenage girl dabbling in amateur porn.
Highlights:
• Luther introduces himself to the audience by putting a loaded gun to the head, establishing the fact that the detective remains saddled with personal problems.
• A man who has kidnapped a police officer is trying to negotiate his release, but Luther, suspecting that the killer is hungry for attention, ignores his overtures, yet another brilliant tactic.

WOODY HARRELSON
“Game Change”
Republican strategist Steve Schmidt believes his candidate, Sen. John McCain, needs a “game changer” if he has any hope of winning the presidency in 2008. He backs Gov. Sarah Palin, but slowly grows disillusioned with her as a campaign progresses. As the election draws near, he wonders if his mistake could tarnish both his personal reptuation and the country’s.
Highlights:
• On a plane trip, Schmidt is less than impressed with Palin’s knowledge of foreign affairs, especially the fact that she thinks the government of Iraq was responsible for 9/11.
• Seething with anger, Schmidt firmly tells Palin she won’t be giving a concession speech.

CLIVE OWEN
“Hemingway & Gellhorn”
While covering the Spanish Civil War, acclaimed author Ernest Hemingway meets his match in budding journalist Martha Gellhorn. The two fall in love and get married, but Hemingway discovers without the adrenaline rush of the war, the couple is doomed. In the end, the writer’s ego is bigger than his heart.
Highlights:
• When Gellhorn whines about having writer’s block, Hemingway snaps. He dresses her down, emphasizing his anger by banging away on a typewriter while standing up. It is an early example of just how fiery Hemingway can get.
• When a general asks Gellhorn to dance, a green-eyed Hemingway challenges him to a round of Russian roulette. After someone steps in, Hemingway and the general share a laugh and booze, another sign that the author is not afraid to go to extremes.

BILL PAXTON
“Hatfields & McCoys”
The deeply religious Randall McCoy returns from the Civil War and discovers his family is struggling. His disappointment contributes to a fatal feud with his former buddy, “Devil” Anse Hatfield. McCoy’s stubborn rage and inability to forgive leads to devastating results.
Highlights:
• McCoy offers Pinkerton agents a bounty for capturing the Hatfields, escalating the conflict by bringing in “outsiders” who have more than revenge on their minds.
• As the feud escalates, McCoy sits on the porch with his wife and wonders aloud how the Lord has seemingly abandoned him. “I prayed to a merciful God who showed no mercy,” he says.

Road to the Emmys 2012: The Actor Nominees
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