Television Academy voters aren’t necessarily a nostalgic bunch when it comes to sending off departing shows or series cast members with one final Emmy. Last year, of course, was a tremendous exception, as most of the cast of “Schitt’s Creek” — including creators and stars Eugene Levy and Dan Levy — landed wins in their respective acting categories, and the show also snagged the comedy series statue.
The Emmy record books are filled with worthy contenders who never got to taste a win for their signature series. But the award for lead drama actor has managed to buck that trend and allow performers to go out in a blaze of Emmy glory. Over the past decade, Emmy voters managed to squeeze out wins for the stars of some of TV’s most celebrated shows — just under the wire. That has included final season Emmys for Matthew Rhys (2018, for “The Americans”), Jon Hamm (2015, for “Mad Men”) and Bryan Cranston (2014, for “Breaking Bad”).
This year’s lead drama actor category once again includes several performers with their last shots at achieving an Emmy for a pivotal role in their career. For “Lovecraft Country” star Jonathan Majors, it’s actually his only chance at winning one for that landmark HBO series — canceled by the pay TV network just days before it received a monumental haul of 18 nominations, including the one for Majors as Atticus “Tic” Freeman.
Another actor in the one-anddone club is new sensation RegéJean Page, whose smoldering take as Simon Bassett, the duke of Hastings, was a career-making turn but a short-lived one. “Bridgerton” continues on Netflix, and perhaps the duke will show up as a future cameo and at least land Page back in the guest actor category, but for now, this is his one shot at a “Bridgerton” Emmy since he announced he would not be a series regular in Season 2.
Also among the last-chance contenders are “The Crown’s” Josh O’Connor and “Pose’s” Billy Porter. O’Connor’s two-season stint as Prince Charles came to an end in a spectacular way, via the famed story of Charles and Diana (Emma Corrin) in Season 4 of the Netflix royal family period piece. Per showrunner Peter Morgan’s grand series plan, Prince Charles will be aged up in Season 5, and as Variety has reported, Dominic West (“The Affair”) is expected to take over the role. Meanwhile, Porter has already been honored with an Emmy, in 2019, for his role as Pray Tell on the FX ballroom culture drama, but now is the last time to celebrate him in that beloved role, as the series signed off this summer.
The lead comedy actor field also features a couple of notable “last chance” nominations. “The Kominsky Method” star Michael Douglas, whose previous Emmy win was 2013’s “Behind the Candelabra” (lead limited series/ TV movie actor), has one last shot for his retiring Netflix show. But the real final round for an iconic role here is William H. Macy, who has been nominated six times as Frank Gallagher on “Shameless” but has never won for the show. (He did win two Emmys in 2003 for the TV movie “Door to Door”). I could make a joke here about how he might go about securing an Emmy, but that would be, well, shameless.