×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Emmys: Strong Crowd of New Contenders Shakes Up the Lead Actor Races

In the lead actor Emmy races, which tend to recycle many of the same names year after year, it’s rare to see more than two or three fresh faces in the mix. This year, a strong crowd of new hopefuls is hitting the playing field and that could test the history. (At least, one can only hope.)

Last year’s first-timers in the drama category included a pair of actors from broadcast phenom “This Is Us” (Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia) and an acting veteran from the wildly popular sci-fi program “Westworld” (Anthony Hopkins). The latter won’t be in the mix this time, after Hopkins’ character bowed out last season. Some other spots will open up as well, with the absence of Bob Odenkirk in “Better Call Saul” (premiering after the deadline) and the ejection of “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey, who was removed from the Netflix series after his dramatic fall from grace amid sexual misconduct allegations last year.

Lined up and waiting to fill the void are nearly a dozen new contenders, though. Jason Bateman, for one, picked up Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations last year for his work in Netflix’s “Ozark.” He’s perhaps the strongest of the lot, with added visibility in comedy series “Arrested Development” to help his cause. “The Good Doctor” star Freddie Highmore, meanwhile, landed a Globe nom for the ABC series. He’s poised for TV Academy recognition as well.

A number of actors in other debuting shows are worth keeping an eye on: James Franco, pulling double duty in HBO’s “The Deuce,” though he could be sidelined due to his own brush with the #MeToo movement; J.K. Simmons, doing the same in Starz’ “Counterpart”; Jonathan Groff, in David Fincher’s Netflix psychodrama “Mindhunter”; and Donald Sutherland, as J. Paul Getty in FX’s “Trust.”

Adding to the glut is HBO’s plan to move “Westworld” players Ed Harris and Jeffrey Wright from supporting to lead this season.

In addition to reigning champ Brown and his “This Is Us” co-star Ventimiglia, incumbent nominees looking for another bid include Matthew Rhys in “The Americans” and Liev Schreiber in “Ray Donovan.” They’ll join others like Rami Malek (a former winner for “Mr. Robot”) and Matt Smith (Netflix’s “The Crown”) in a fierce competition.

On the comedy side, voters can be even more loathe to shake things up. One or two freshmen per year is the norm. Last year it was just a pair: Donald Glover (“Atlanta”) and Zach Galifianakis (“Baskets”).

This season, embattled comedian Aziz Ansari will be absent with “Master of None” on hiatus, while “Transparent” star Jeffrey Tambor won’t be submitted for consideration by Amazon following sexual misbehavior allegations, allegations he has denied. (Tambor will, however, get a shot at recognition in the supporting race for “Arrested Development.”)

Eric McCormack picked up a Globe nom for NBC’s returning “Will & Grace,” while Larry David was recognized by the Screen Actors Guild for HBO’s own returning series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” And speaking of returns, Matt LeBlanc is eligible one last time for the final season of Showtime’s “Episodes” (as well as his CBS sitcom “Man With a Plan”).

Debuting comedy contenders include Iain Armitage in “Young Sheldon” (CBS) and Tracy Morgan in “The Last O.G.” (TBS). They and the rest will be looking to join a race that already includes Galifianakis and last year’s winner, Glover, along with other incumbents including Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”) and William H. Macy (“Shameless”). Also lurking are Ted Danson (assuming NBC’s “The Good Place” can find footing), Will Forte (a former two-time nominee for Fox’s “The Last Man on Earth”) and Thomas Middleditch (also a former nominee, for HBO’s “Silicon Valley”).

The good news for whichever newbies make the cut? Fully half of the last 10 lead actor winners (drama and comedy combined) have taken the gold on debut nominations. So hope springs eternal in the lead-up to the 70th annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Courtney Kemp Agboh'Power' TV show final

    'Power' Creator Courtney A. Kemp On Why Starz Series Hasn't Gotten Awards Recognition

    “Power” is a top ratings performer for Starz and has a hugely committed fanbase, but the series has lacked in its awards recognition. Other than honors from the NAACP Image Awards, “Power” has not received any awards or nominations from the Emmys, Golden Globes or SAG — something that star and executive producer Curtis “50 [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Breaking Bad

    'Breaking Bad' Movie Release Date, Title and Plot Revealed

    The “Breaking Bad” movie is coming to Netflix sooner than you might think. The film, titled “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” is now set to be released on Netflix on Oct. 11, according to a report from the New York Times, with Aaron Paul returning as the series’ popular meth cook Jesse Pinkman. Jesse [...]

  • Laurence FishburneNational Memorial Day Concert Dress

    Laurence Fishburne to Produce 'Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur' Series for Disney Channel

    Laurence Fishburne is stepping into the animation game. The “Matrix” star is set to executive produce “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” an animated series which has been given the greenlight at Disney Channel. Based on Marvel’s comic book series, the show hails from from Disney Television Animation and follows the adventures of 13-year-old super-genius [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • 'The Simpsons' Producers on Disney, Spinoffs

    'The Simpsons' Producers Talk Potential Disney Spinoffs, Confirm Apu Will Remain

    “The Simpsons” has never shied away from lampooning Disney over the years, but maybe that’s no longer the case. Homer, Marge and co. are of course now part of the Disney family and made their first appearance at the Mouse House’s D23 Expo convention, where the show’s producers were asked plenty of questions about what [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content