Emmy Predictions 2019: Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie

"When They See Us" holds half the slots in this race, but that could work against them. [Updated September 16]
Chernobyl HBO Episode 1 Stellen Skarsgard
Stellan Skarsgård in "Chernobyl"
Liam Daniel/HBO

Last Year’s Winner: Jeff Daniels, “Godless”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: In the history of the Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series and TV Movie race, there are 37 actors with more than one nomination apiece, and only one who’s won more than once: Beau Bridges won in 1997 for “The Second Civil War” and in 1993 for “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.”
Fun Fact: Maybe more is better? As limited series have been on the rise across television, this category has seen more winners from miniseries than TV Movies by a wide margin: Only one supporting actor this decade has won while representing a standalone movie — David Strathairn for HBO’s “Temple Grandin” — whereas five won for TV Movies in the decade prior. (More if you count two-part miniseries as movies.)
Notable Ineligible Series: Alexander Skarsgård, “Big Little Lies”; anyone from “American Crime Story”; anyone from “American Horror Story”

At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie. 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, September 14 and Sunday, September 15. The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, September 22. Fox is broadcasting the ceremony.

The State of the Race

Ben Whishaw made a nice run over the winter, pulling in big wins from the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, and “A Very English Scandal” emerged as an unlikely awards force. Whishaw was leading the way, even more so than the show’s famous lead, Hugh Grant, but there are speed bumps in front of Whishaw heading into the Emmys, including the fact that he didn’t snag a SAG Award nomination, let alone a win.

That could indicate a lack of passionate support among TV Academy voters, who have also seen a slew of exciting actors in more recently released series — led by Michael Kenneth Williams in “When They See Us” and Stellan Skarsgård in “Chernobyl.” These two limited series have the most nominations overall among those represented in the Supporting Actor field, while Williams and Skarsgård have opposite histories at the Emmys. This is Skarsgård’s first nomination, and Williams is up for his fourth shot at the golden trophy.

John Leguizamo, also representing “When They See Us,” is also a four-time nominee — but he won in 1999 for his Variety Program, “John Leguizamo: Freak.” That was a long time ago, but the edge here still has to go to the actor who’s never won vs. the one who won a while back. Williams is also a more consistent presence on TV, so it’s a bit more surprising he’s yet to be honored. Asante Blackk is new to the Emmys, but he’s a teenager, so that’s not a strike against him. If anything, he’s the young face of “When They See Us,” and his performance along with his age could work in his favor — that’s an impressive turn for such a young actor.

Finally, Paul Dano is, well, Paul Dano. Even though this is his first Emmy nomination, he’s well-known and well-respected on the awards circuit. He had the more subtle turn in “Escape at Dannemora,” and those kind of performances can often go overlooked in favor of bigger, showier roles. But he’s made it this far, and if the Showtime drama can stir up some momentum, he could benefit from submitting in the supporting actor category. (He went in the lead category at the Golden Globes.)

Power Ranking the Nominees:

  1. Stellan Skarsgård, “Chernobyl”
  2. Michael Kenneth Williams, “When They See Us”
  3. Ben Whishaw, “A Very English Scandal”
  4. Paul Dano, “Escape at Dannemora”
  5. Asante Blackk, “When They See Us”
  6. John Leguizamo, “When They See Us”

Will Win: Stellan Skarsgard, “Chernobyl”
Could Win: Michael Kenneth Williams, “When They See Us”
Should Win: Ben Whishaw, “A Very English Scandal”

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