Emmy Predictions: Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – Michael K. Williams Could Be the First Black Winner in the Category’s History

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Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Emmys ceremonies from film awards editor Clayton Davis. Following history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Emmy predictions are updated regularly with the current year's list of contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. The eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and is subject to change.

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UPDATED: Aug 19, 2021

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY: Five Emmy nominations later, the world is still waiting for the Michael K. Williams Winning Moment on the Emmy stage. Although, arguably should have occurred two times by now for “The Night Of” and “When They See Us” in supporting actor limited, he’s been the de facto frontrunner in the weeks leading to nomination morning. With his HBO canceled series doing well in all of the acting categories, he’s an easy check box to give the show a golden moment on the stage, which hopefully can lead to more prospects for the Misha Green series in the future.

Disney Plus’ next chapter in the “Star Wars” universe received .l series, with Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon being the sole major acting nominee for the space western. The 63-year-old has received five nominations in his tenure and is overdue for TV Academy love. He submitted the best and most memorable episode of the second season, “The Rescue,” which is also nominated for writing, which could help voters since they will be watching it for other category consideration.

English and Nigerian actor O-T Fagbenle has been climbing the ranks of Hollywood’s most exciting artists, making history as the first person to star, write, direct, compose and executive produce the opening episode of a television series on a major US network (Hulu’s “Maxxx”). Some of that goodwill likely helped him beat out some prominent names to receive his nomination as Luke Bankole, June’s husband, before Gilead established rule. However, despite submitting the writing nominated episode, “Home,” he faces internal competition and vote splitting with his fellow nominated co-stars, Max Minghella and Bradley Whitford. In addition, Hulu is juggling multiple actors this year and may have trouble settling on one.

Undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of his generation, the 75-year-old John Lithgow, once again there’s no way to forget his presence in any medium, no matter how long the show aired. With six Emmy on his shelf, most recently in this category in 2017 for “The Crown,” his newly introduced work as E.B. Jonathan in HBO’s reboot series could be a more considerable contender despite the series lackluster nomination showing. The show only picked up four noms in total, and each of those has different episode submissions and recognitions, with Lithgow submitting “Chapter Four.” Will they take the time and effort to go back and watch each entry? He’s also the only actor nominated in the category whose show was not nominated for drama series.

After being one of the big snubs for the Emmys last year for his work as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in lead actor drama, Tobias Menzies garners his first nom in supporting for the Netflix period drama. With a co-leading 24 nomination tally, the show stands an excellent chance of being the “Schitt’s Creek” of the Emmys this year and could win all four acting categories. Despite not sharing the category with any of his co-stars, which is a problem for other programs, he has the most significant hurdle to overcome in the four major acting races. There seem to be showier, standout performances in the lot, so his winning chances will lean heavily on a “Crown” sweep. Also helpful is his submission of the episode “Gold Stick,” which is also represented for guest actor drama nominee Charles Dance, who is one of the top contenders for that prize. Winning two birds with one stone is a trick that many studios have executed over the years.

<img class="size-vertical wp-image-1202870649" src="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/handmaidstale2.jpg?w=1000&quot; alt=" - Credit: George Kraychyk/Hulu" width="1000" height="563" srcset="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/handmaidstale2.jpg 1000w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/handmaidstale2.jpg?resize=150,84 150w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/handmaidstale2.jpg?resize=300,169 300w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/handmaidstale2.jpg?resize=125,70 125w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/handmaidstale2.jpg?resize=681,383 681w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/handmaidstale2.jpg?resize=450,253 450w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/handmaidstale2.jpg?resize=250,140 250w" sizes="(min-width: 87.5rem) 1000px, (min-width: 78.75rem) 681px, (min-width: 48rem) 450px, (max-width: 48rem) 250px" />George Kraychyk/Hulu

Commander Nick Blaine has been one of Hulu’s hit series pillars, and the 35-year-old Max Minghella was finally able to get his overdue love. The son of the great and late Oscar-winning filmmaker Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”) has shown range in front and behind the camera in the industry, and the respect he’s garnered over the years could make him a potential spoiler in the category. His episode submission “The Crossing” is one of the six submitted for drama series and could offer him a viable lane for a win. However, navigating internal competition among his nominated cast members will be tricky.

One of the benefactors of an expanded lineup, this marks Chris Sullivan’s second nomination as the lovable yet tormented Toby Damon. The 41-year-old California native has been part of multiple series and films in Hollywood, working with some of the best. That works in his favor during the phase two voting period. He’s chosen to submit the episode “In The Room,” but there may be too much competition this year for him to squeak by some of the louder, more extensive performances. So perhaps next year for the final season?

It’s undeniable that Bradley Whitford is one of the most respected and gifted actors working today. Three Emmys to his credit – “The West Wing,” “Transparent” and in 2019 for his now nominated performance as Commander Joseph Lawrence in guest actor drama – the 61-year-old star could act as a winning representative for his Hulu series as categories such as lead actress and supporting actress drama may prove too challenging to overcome. His submission of “Testimony” may help in that quest.

The viewing platform for Emmy nominees opens on Aug. 13, with final-round voting, beginning on Aug. 19 at 9:00 am PT until Aug. 30 at 10:00 pm PT.

Check out the full rankings of the category’s nominees in the chart below.

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AWARDS CATEGORY HISTORY (Supporting Actor Drama Series)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known simply as the Emmys, is television's most prestigious artistic award. There are many records held for both wins and nominations in the near eight decades.

For wins: Peter Dinklage is the most awarded actor in this category, with four individual wins for his turn as Tyrion Lannister on HBO's "Game of Thrones." Art Carney, Don Knotts and Aaron Paul are the second most awarded with three wins each. "Game of Thrones," "L.A. Law" and "The West Wing" each have four wins for its actors in this category over its runs, the most of any television series.

For nominations: Peter Dinklage is the most nominated person in this category with eight nominations, all for each season of "Game of Thrones." Five actors are tied behind him with six nominations: Jonathan Banks, Ed Begley Jr, Will Geer, Jimmy Smits, and Bruce Weitz. Banks and Begley Jr are the only two to have not won yet in any Primetime Emmy category.

"Hill Street Blues" is the series that has received the most nominations in this category over its run, with 16 nominations with "L.A. Law" and "The West Wing" close behind with 15 and 14 nods, respectively.

2021 Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

About the Primetime Emmy Awards (Emmys)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known as the Emmys, is given out by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Since 1949, the awards recognize excellence in American primetime television programming. They are divided into three classes - Primetime Emmy Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (honors artisan achievements) and the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards (recognizes significant engineering and technological contributions). The typical eligibility period is between June 1 and May 31 of any given year. The Television Academy comprises over 25,000 members, representing 30 professional peer groups, including performers, directors, producers, art directors and various artisans and executives.

  • The 73rd Emmy Awards are scheduled to air on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8:00 pm est on CBS and on-demand on sister streamer Paramount Plus.

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