2023 Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

"Succession" actor Kieran Culkin now joins co-stars Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox in the 2023 Emmy race for Best Actor in a Drama Series.
Succession Season 4 Episode 6 Kendall Roman
Kieran Culkin and Jeremy Strong in "Succession"
Courtesy of David M. Russell / HBO

We will update this article throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting takes place from June 15 to June 26, with the official Emmy nominations announced Wednesday, July 12. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be presented over two consecutive nights on Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10, with an edited presentation of the ceremonies to be broadcast on FXX at a later date. Finally, the 75th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards take place on Monday, September 18, and air live on FOX at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See our previous thoughts on what to expect at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards here.

The State of the Race

Not to speak ill of the dead, but Logan Roy just did not exude main character energy this year, so it is quite the surprise to see “Succession” star Brian Cox still submit for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. The veteran actor has already lost the award twice before, once to Jeremy Strong for playing his TV son Kendall Roy.

Add in Kieran Culkin, who has been elevated out of the Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category, and HBO has a hat-trick of “Succession” actors likely to receive a nomination in this category for their work in the acclaimed show’s final season, but the way the last stretch of episodes has played out, Strong still seems like the Emmys’ No. 1 boy.

Still, the contenders from other shows are not so easily brushed off. There is a faction of the TV Academy that likely feel that “Better Call Saul” star Bob Odenkirk is long overdue for an Emmy win, having been nominated for his performance as the titular Saul Goodman five times already. This year is his last chance, so the win would have great impact, serving as the TV Academy’s final farewell to the “Breaking Bad” universe that it has awarded 16 times over the years.

Aside from those actors, who all were nominees last year for the same character performance, the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series is likely to include a few performers that captured the zeitgeist this year, like “The Last of Us” star Pedro Pascal or “1923” star Harrison Ford.

With another role on the Apple TV+ series “Shrinking” and a new “Indiana Jones” premiering at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, Ford is especially in good standing to be the first actor from the “Yellowstone” universe to finally score an Emmy nod.

Current Contenders (In Alphabetical Order):
Jacob Anderson, “Interview with the Vampire” (AMC)
Nicco Annan, “P-Valley” (Starz)
Jeff Bridges, “The Old Man” (FX)
Paddy Considine, “House of the Dragon” (HBO)
Brian Cox, “Succession” (HBO)
Bryan Cranston, “Your Honor” (Showtime)
Kieran Culkin, “Succession” (HBO)
Harrison Ford, “1923” (Paramount+)
Diego Luna, “Andor” (Disney+)
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
Gary Oldman, “Slow Horses” Apple TV+
Pedro Pascal, “The Last of Us” (HBO)
Matthew Rhys, “Perry Mason” (HBO)
Patrick Stewart, “Star Trek: Picard” (Paramount+)
Jeremy Strong, “Succession” (HBO)

More Drama Category Predictions:
Outstanding Drama Series
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

To see IndieWire’s full set of predictions for the 75th Emmy Awards click here.

Last Year’s Winner: Lee Jung-jae, “Squid Game”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: Last year continued a streak that has lasted over a decade, where no one has won this award for back-to-back seasons of their series. The last to do so was “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston in 2008-2010. There is a chance for Dominic West to win and start a streak for the same role as Josh O’Connor, who won this Emmy in 2021 for playing a younger Prince Charles on “The Crown.” Otherwise, the only person vying for a repeat win is “Succession” star Jeremy Strong, who won in 2020, but did not win last year.
Notable Ineligible Series: Adam Scott, “Severance” (Season 2 was not eligible); Jason Bateman, “Ozark” (ended); Sterling K. Brown, “This is Us” (ended)

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