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Emmy Predictions 2019: Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Multiple actors from the same shows try to make room in the always-crowded supporting actor field. [Updated: June 10]

THIS IS US -- "Don't Take My Sunshine Away" Episode 316 -- Pictured: Justin Hartley as Kevin Pearson -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Justin Hartley in “This Is Us”

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Last Year’s Winner: Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: In bad news for Peter Dinklage, the TV Academy really doesn’t like to hand out back-to-back honors for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series — not that Dinklage hasn’t already noticed. His three wins have come in 2011, 2015, and 2018, breaking up the only other repeat winner of the decade’s would-be hot streaks; Aaron Paul, who won for “Breaking Bad” in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Oddly enough, they’re two of just four supporting actors to win three trophies, and the other two — Art Carney (“The Jackie Gleason Show”) and Don Knotts (“The Andy Griffith Show”) — racked up all their wins in three consecutive years. Still, the last actor to win back-to-back in this category was Ray Walston for “Picket Fences” in 1995 and 1996.
Fun Fact: With the above in mind, perhaps the best evidence of Emmy voters spreading the love in this category came from 2000 to 2004. Only two shows were represented in the winners circle, but they were taken there by five different actors — Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, and John Spencer all won for “The West Wing” from 2000 – 2002, before Joe Pantoliano and Michael Imperioli won for “The Sopranos” the following two years. Then, in 2006, Alan Alda won for “The West Wing.” I’ll bet the “Game of Thrones” cast wishes voters still thought that way.
Notable Ineligible Series: Joseph Fiennes, “The Handmaid’s Tale”; David Harbour, “Stranger Things”; James Marsden, “Westworld”; Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland”; Matt Smith, “The Crown”

At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (listed in alphabetical order). This article will be updated throughout the season, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz from the 2019 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out Saturday, Sept. 14 and Sunday, Sept. 15. The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 22. Fox is broadcasting the ceremony.

The State of the Race

“Game of Thrones” has a few contenders, “Succession” has a few contenders, even “Homecoming” has a few contenders — this year’s race for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series may have six open slots, but three shows could fill them. “Better Call Saul,” “Pose,” and even a long shot like “House of Cards” each have the eligible players needed to make an impact on the minds of Emmy voters, so let’s take a look at who’s eligible and who from each series has the best shot.

Defending champion Peter Dinklage is still the No. 1 option for “Game of Thrones.” He’s won three times and a fourth would make him the winningest actor in the category’s history. Moreover, fans haven’t fallen off the Dinklage train, as evidenced by his somewhat surprising win last year. He very well could take home one more trophy and is a certifiable lock to be nominated. Still, last year made room for a second “GoT” nominee: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. The man behind Jaime Lannister has steadily grown his own fandom, and barring a Season 8 collapse, could challenge his co-star for the Emmy throne.

But that’s not all HBO has to work with: Freshman series “Succession” has not one, not two, but three legitimate supporting-actor contenders. Golden Globe nominee Kieran Culkin leads the pack, but Matthew Macfadyen is a bit of a favorite, alongside his black-comedy partner-in-crime, Nicholas Braun. There’s likely not room for all three (or even two), but if “Succession” stirs up voters at all, the drama could see a few surprises here.

Outside the premium cabler, AMC will tout Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito for “Better Call Saul” — Banks is a five-time Emmy nominee without a win, while Esposito snagged one of his own in 2012. The veteran drama will have to contend with Amazon’s hot new series, “Homecoming.” Assuming voters buy into the half-hour format, former winner Bobby Cannavale could be looking at his first nod since he took home the 2013 trophy for “Boardwalk Empire.” Of course, Shea Whigham could be in there, too, angling for his first nomination.

Who else is in the mix? James Van Der Beek, Evan Peters, and Ryan Jamaal Swain are all up for “Pose.” Michael Kelly, Greg Kinnear, and Campbell Scott hope “House of Cards” hasn’t lost all its Emmy sheen, and Alex Hibbert and Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine will look to push “The Chi” into awards conversation for Season 2. Even Delroy Lindo and Justin Bartha both hope to make waves for CBS All Access’ critical favorite, “The Good Fight.”

And then there are the sole representatives of their shows (realistically). With Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia handling the Lead Actor category, Justin Hartley could add another nod to the “This Is Us” total with his first nomination. (He’s had quite the awards-friendly arc this season, too.) Peter Mullan hopes the “Ozark” love extends beyond the three principals (Bateman, Linney, and Garner). Jon Voight remains a threat for “Ray Donovan,” and Asia Kate Dillon would be an inspired pick for “Billions.” There are even more contenders, believe me, but just look at what voters have to sift through already. It’s gonna be a fascinating campaign.

Predicted Nominees:

  • Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul”
  • Bobby Cannavale, “Homecoming”
  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones”
  • Kieran Culkin, “Succession”
  • Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
  • Justin Hartley, “This Is Us”

Spoilers: Giancarlo Esposito, “Better Call Saul”; Peter Mullan, “Ozark”; Michael Kelly, “House of Cards”

In a Perfect World: Shea Whigham, “Homecoming”; Asia Kate Dillon, “Billions”; Tracy Letts, “The Sinner”; Matthew Macfadyen, “Succession”; Nicholas Braun, “Succession”

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