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Emmy Predictions 2021: Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series — Are More Surprises In Store?

"Hamilton" had its day in July, but can any of the three Supporting Actor nominees succeed in September?

Mare of Easttown Evan Peters HBO

Evan Peters in “Mare of Easttown”

Michele K. Short / HBO

Last Year’s Winner: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, “Watchmen”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: There has never been a repeat winner in this category, and one network hasn’t won twice in a row since Tom Wilkinson (“John Adams”), Ken Howard (“Grey Gardens”), David Strathairn (“Temple Grandin”) and Guy Pearce (“Mildred Pierce”) took home consecutive trophies for HBO original programs from 2008 to 2011. (And if an HBO actor triumphs this year, they could start a new streak on the 10th anniversary of its last one.)
Fun Fact: Given this category consists of performers in limited series, anthology series, and TV movies, it shouldn’t be all that surprising to learn that very few programs have been represented more than a few times. “American Crime Story” leads them all with six nominations and “American Horror Story” is close behind with five.
Notable Ineligible Series: “American Crime Story: Impeachment” (the season did not air in time to be eligible); Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (submitted as a Drama Series).

At the bottom of this page are IndieWire Deputy TV Editor Ben Travers’ predictions for Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or TV Movie. This article will be updated throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2021 race. Voting for the 2021 Emmys was held from June 17 through June 28 (with polls closing at 10 p.m. PT). Emmy nominations were announced Tuesday, July 13. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 12. The 73rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place Sunday, September 19. CBS is broadcasting the ceremony.

The State of the Race

In a lot of ways, the 2021 Emmy nominations were extremely predictable. “The Crown,” “Ted Lasso,” and “The Mandalorian” all racked up recognitions, as many expected the awards darlings would. But in other, more specific ways, this year’s batch of nominees are downright bizarre, and in fewer categories is that more apparent than Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or TV Movie.

Instead of “The Queen’s Gambit” SAG nominee Bill Camp, the Netflix series landed a slot for Thomas Brodie-Sangster; rather than reward John Boyega’s career-best work in “Small Axe,” voters sided with Evan Peters’ career-best work in “Mare of Easttown”; and in lieu of embracing showy turns that typically make for all-too-enticing awards fodder like Donald Sutherland in “The Undoing” and Brendan Gleeson in “The Comey Rule,” the TV Academy gobbled up a production already stuffed with awards by nominating three actors from “Hamilton.”

Part of me admires the acting branch for flexing their eclectic preferences, and part of me wants to punish them for finding new ways to prove infuriating — after all, half the category isn’t honoring work done for television. But I digress: What does all this mean when it comes to choosing a winner? The short answer: It means Evan Peters is going to win an Emmy, which is a statement I never really expected to write. What the voting patterns here and across this year’s Emmys show is that a majority of voters only watch a select number of programs. “The Comey Rule” and “Small Axe” likely lost out on nominations because not enough people watched those shows, which is why “I May Destroy You” ended up with a single-digit nomination total.

The Emmys continue to embrace whatever they’ve seen, whether it’s hit shows like “Mare of Easttown” or plays that maybe they also watched on Disney+. Considering Peters starred in two of the voters’ most-heralded limited series — “Mare” (16 nominations) and “WandaVision” (23 nods) — I expect his strong year to be rewarded. Essideu could also win, if the voters rally around “I May Destroy You” (but it seems more likely they’d want to honor Michaela Coel, specifically), and obviously all the love for “Hamilton” could translate to Diggs’ victory. (He also starred in another 2021 limited series, “The Good Lord Bird,” but given its one nomination, I don’t think voters know that.)

So it looks like Peters will triumph. But given how surprising voters were with the nominations, I won’t put another twist past them when it comes to the winner.

Power Rankings:

1. Evan Peters, “Mare of Easttown”
2. Paapa Essiedu, “I May Destroy You”
3. Daveed Diggs, “Hamilton”
4. Anthony Ramos, “Hamilton”
5. Thomas Brodie-Sangster, “The Queen’s Gambit”
6. Jonathan Groff, “Hamilton”

Will Win: Evan Peters, “Mare of Easttown”
Could Win: Paapa Essiedu, “I May Destroy You” or Daveed Diggs, “Hamilton”
Should Win: Paapa Essiedu, “I May Destroy You”

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