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A look at guest star nominees in a drama

Road to the Emmys 2012: The Guest Star Nominees

GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

Joan Cusack
“Shameless”
Highlight: Cusack’s character appeared throughout the season as Frank’s agoraphobic, germphobic love interest — a woman whose charms included her handsome disability checks. Her efforts to conquer her fear of leaving the house were beginning to pay off until, in one memorable scene, she nearly was beaned by an airliner wheel that fell from the sky. Her Sheila assisted in the mercy killing of Grammy(Louise Fletcher), then decided to open a hospice.

 

Loretta Devine
“Grey’s Anatomy”
Highlight: Devine, who won the Emmy in this category last year for the same role as wife Adele of the newly retired chief of surgery Dr. Webber (James Pickens Jr.), remains afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease. In a memorable ep, she moves into a nursing home and then falls in love with another resident.

 

Julia Ormond
“Mad Men”
Highlight: As Don Draper’s French mother-in-law, Ormond’s character visits from Montreal, along with her unfaithful husband. A cougar before the term was coined, Ormond will doubtless be remembered for her rendezvous at the Stanhope Hotel with Roger, who extended the invitation.

 

Martha Plimpton
“The Good Wife”
Highlight: Plimpton played a legal shark who sued the firm of Lockhart Gardner for fraud and malicious prosecution. In several powerful scenes on “The Dream Team” episode, it became clear that her goal was not merely to collect millions of dollars in damages but to bankrupt the firm and crush it completely.

 

Jean Smart
“Harry’s Law”
Highlight: Smart tackled the role of a ruthless prosecutor who, early in the season, took on Harry’s team in a high-profile murder case. In the episode for which she is nominated, she prosecutes an innocent man for aiding and abetting a kidnapping. Later, she tries to convict twin sisters — both married to the same man — for his murder.

 

Uma Thurman
“Smash”
Highlight:: Thurman’s character — a high-profile Hollywood actress — threw others for a loop when she indicated she wanted to star in the Broadway musical “Bombshell.” Her celebrity gave her the upper hand until, in one a memorable scene that sent her colleagues into shivers, it’s clear she doesn’t have the singing chops to be Marilyn Monroe.

 

GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA

 

Dylan Baker
“The Good Wife”
Highlight: Baker returned to CBS’ legal drama to play creepy wife killer Colin Sweeney for an episode in which his days as a venture capitalist come in handy in a case Alicia (Julianna Margulies) is working on. In a suitably tense scene, Baker brings all of Sweeney’s sly wit and skill at manipulation into play trying to convince a neo-Nazi to confess to a murder.

 

Jeremy Davies
“Justified”
Highlight: Mags Bennett’s only surviving son Dickie is one of this FX crime drama’s most memorable characters: shrewd enough to make it out of situations alive, but not smart enough to ever get ahead. In “The Devil You Know,” he outlasts captors trying to get Mags’ leftover millions from him, but finds instead a depleted bounty and the look of why-me disappointment on his face is, in Davies’ rich portrayal, comically apt.

 

Ben Feldman
“Mad Men”
Highlight: As young Jewish copywriter Michael Ginsburg, Feldman became the show’s breakout new character this year — a talented, forthright personality who has a hard time fitting in to the WASPy ad agency dynamic. In “Dark Shadows,” when Don (Jon Hamm) brazenly reasserts his creative dominance by intentionally ignoring a great idea of Ginsburg’s, the new employee confronts Don in the elevator with a hurt, yet forceful comment that he feels sorry for his boss.

 

Michael J. Fox
“The Good Wife”
Highlight: As Louis Canning, a wily lawyer with a neurological disorder he’s more than willing to use for advantageous courtroom effect, Fox has become this smart show’s keenest adversary for Alicia. In “Parenting Made Easy,” he even manages to lure us into thinking he’s sympathetic — offering Alicia a job, telling her she’d have more time for her kids at his firm — then pulling the rug from under us when we find out he rifled through Alicia’s briefcase to get the upper hand in a case.

 

Mark Margolis
“Breaking Bad”
Highlight: Confined to a wheelchair, and with only a bell to communicate, Hector “Tio” Salamanca may be old but far from powerless. And when given the chance to get back at his nemesis, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), the look in Margolis’ eyes in their final confrontation — tearful relief, seething hatred, private joy — betrays the fierce poetry of long-delayed vengeance.

 

Jason Ritter
“Parenthood”
Highlight: As Mark Cyr, the sweet-faced, attentive younger boyfriend to Lauren Graham’s Sarah, Ritter earned plenty of love from the show’s fans. After a teary scene in the penultimate ep that indicated the pair’s complications might be insurmountable, Ritter’s character quietly unveiled a heartfelt proposal in the finale that was honest, romantic and poignant.

 

Road to the Emmys 2012: The Guest Star Nominees
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