Last Year’s Winner: Courtney B. Vance, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: In five of the last six years, two actors have been nominated for the same show in this category: “The People v. O.J. Simpson” (Courtney B. Vance & Cuba Gooding Jr.), “Fargo” (Billy Bob Thornton & Martin Freeman), “Behind the Candelabra” (Michael Douglas & Matt Damon), “Hatfields & McCoys” (Kevin Costner & Bill Paxton), and “The Kennedys” (Barry Pepper & Greg Kinnear). It makes you wonder who each show’s real lead was, eh?
Fun Fact: If Benedict Cumberbatch earns a nomination in 2017, he’ll tie Beau Bridges, James Garner, and James Woods as the most nominated actor in this category.
So far, HBO is two-for-two when submitting its two leads in the same category: Both Riz Ahmed and John Turturro were nominated at the SAG Awards and Golden Globes. That being said, neither won at either ceremony. Might they split up their duo to avoid vote splitting and spread the wealth? We’ll see soon enough, and the network could be influenced by how many other options they have in the field. Robert De Niro looks phenomenal as Bernie Madoff in advanced footage of “The Wizard of Lies,” and Jude Law has earned raves for his nuanced, knowing turn in “The Young Pope.”
That’s four candidates for HBO including both “Night Of” leads, and it’s not like it’s the only game in town. FX has a strong contender in Ewan McGregor (“Fargo”), and past nominees Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock”) and Timothy Hutton (“American Crime”) are again up for consideration.
And then there’s the wild cards. Tchéky Karyo certainly merits a nod for his passionate work in “The Missing” Season 2, but the first season didn’t catch on with voters. Michael Gambon could earn his third Emmy nod if enough Academy members get around to “Churchill’s Secrets,” and Jonathan Groff will need “Looking’s” cult fanbase to rise up around the movie if he wants to get his first nomination. Finally, National Geographic Channel is already giving its first scripted miniseries, “Genius,” a big push with critics. If it sparks with viewers, star Geoffrey Rush could be up for his second Emmy.
Still, the odds might be better for a couple of Showtime options: Idris Elba has four nominations under his belt and could snag a fifth for “Guerrilla.” Kyle MacLachlan hasn’t earned an Emmy nod since “Twin Peaks,” but he was on the short list for both seasons. If Showtime somehow releases “Twin Peaks” in time to make him eligible, could MacLachlan snag his third for the revival?
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series (in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the awards season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2017 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.
- Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of”
- Benedict Cumberbatch, “Sherlock”
- Robert De Niro, “The Wizard of Lies”
- Jude Law, “The Young Pope”
- Ewan McGregor, “Fargo”
- Geoffrey Rush, “Genius”
Spoilers: Timothy Hutton, “American Crime”; John Turturro, “The Night Of”
In a Perfect World: Jonathan Groff, “Looking: The Movie”