Emmys: Which Guest Star Nominees Will Win?

The drama and comedy races boast a wild mix of talent, including a slew of past winners and five performers who could pull off a rare Emmy twofer — among them one Jon Hamm.
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Mel Brooks, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti

A version of story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Alan Alda (The Blacklist)

The TV legend has six wins in five categories, but never this one. Playing a veteran intelligence officer with a pipe bomb strapped around his neck, he has an incredible final scene that ends with a bang.

F. Murray Abraham (Homeland)

This first Emmy nom for the Oscar winner comes for his portrayal of a black-ops CIA agent and in a year in which his show roared back from the dead. His episode submission is the heart-pounding season finale.

Beau Bridges (Masters of Sex) PROJECTED WINNER

This is the seventh guest acting nom (and second in a row for this show) for this three-time winner, whose married, closeted gay character tries to eliminate his homosexuality and then tries to eliminate himself.

Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards)

This is the second straight nom for the scene-stealer, the Freddy’s BBQ proprietor-turned-White House employee, but he had more opportunities to shine — and the show was better — last season, when he lost.

Michael J. Fox (The Good Wife)

The five-time winner has four guest acting noms in the last five years for his portrayal of cunning lawyer Louis Canning, Alicia’s ailing adversary, on this drama. In brief screen time, he makes a big impression.

Pablo Schreiber (Orange Is the New Black)

One of the amazing things about his “Pornstache” is that he is able to engender sympathy even while doing unsympathetic things. But he’s absent from season three (now on the air), though, he isn’t top of mind.

GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Khandi Alexander (Scandal)

Mama Pope hopes to follow Papa Pope (last year’s guest actor in a winner Joe Morton) to the podium for her perf as a terrorist who pulls strings even from a max-security prison, but she has very little screen time.

Rachel Brosnahan (House of Cards)

At 25, this up-and-comer is less than half the age of any of her fellow nominees, who she could top thanks to her submission of the season finale, in which she and her creepy stalker wind up in a van together.

Allison Janney (Masters of Sex)

Also a supporting nominee this year for Mom, she won this same award for this same part (the wife of a closeted gay man) last year — but the show’s mostly been ignored outside of the guest acting categories.

Margo Martindale (The Americans)

The 2011 winner, nominated for the third year in a row for her work on this otherwise snubbed show as an intelligence operative, gives a brief but memorable turn opposite an ex-lover played by Frank Langella.

Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones)

The revered vet, who won an Emmy in 1997, landed her third straight nom for her Lady Olenna on this big hit and could win for the first time this year thanks to a killer monologue in the episode she submitted.

Cicely Tyson (How to Get Away with Murder) PROJECTED WINNER

The legendary 90-year-old three-time Emmy winner, upset last year for The Trip to Bountiful, is back as Viola Davis’ character’s mom/fellow abuse victim who, we learn, knows how to get away with murder.

GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Mel Brooks (The Comedians)

The iconic Emmy winner teamed up with Josh Gad and Billy Crystal, playing himself refusing to guest star on a show as himself, which was funny — but the show was Emmy-ignored and has been canceled.

Louis C.K. (Saturday Night Live)

Louie has five Emmys, but none for acting, a streak that could be snapped by his hosting of SNL’s season finale (SNL hosts have won in four of the last six years) — although his monologue caused controversy.

Paul Giamatti (Inside Amy Schumer)

The 2008 Emmy winner, nominated as a guest actor for the second year in a row (last year for Downton Abbey), plays a sexist juror in the buzziest sketch of this show’s third season, a 12 Angry Men parody.

Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live)

Twice a supporting actor nominee (but never a winner) when he was a regular on the show, he’s now in the hunt for his hosting of an episode in which he revisited many of his classic roles, and he’s in Trainwreck.

Jon Hamm (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

His perf as a whacked-out cult leader who tormented Kimmy and friends earned him his fourth guest acting nom (the others were for 30 Rock) and comes in the same year as his eighth for Mad Men — he’s never won.

Bradley Whitford (Transparent) PROJECTED WINNER

The West Wing Emmy winner landed his first nom in 12 years for his portrayal of a cross-dresser who can’t quite bring himself to live openly transgender, which already won him a Critics’ Choice Award.

GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Pamela Adlon (Louie)

Pamela, the longtime friend/writing partner of Louie, is nominated for playing "Pamela," the prickly on-again/off-again hookup buddy of “Louie” — her first live-action acting nom. (She's a voice acting winner).

Elizabeth Banks (Modern Family)

For playing Sal, Mitch and Cam’s wild friend-turned-single mother, in an episode that gets surprisingly emotional, the versatile actress earned her third nom in this category (the previous two were for 30 Rock).

Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)

The veteran character actress’ portrayal the psychologist/mother of Johnny Galecki’s character previously earned her noms in 2009 and 2010. This year, as in 2010, she’s also nominated for The Good Wife.

Joan Cusack (Shameless)

This is the actress’ fifth consecutive guest acting nom — a stat almost as remarkable as the fact that she never has won — for her portrayal of the nutty, lovable woman married to William H. Macy’s character.

Tina Fey (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

The TV Academy favorite, who also co-created and writes for this show, is up for a very small part, in some of the weaker episodes of the show’s first season, in which she plays a Marcia Clark-like attorney.

Gaby Hoffman (Girls) PROJECTED WINNER

The indie darling who plays Adam’s unstable sister on this show — and also is nominated as a supporting actress for Transparent — spends the episode she submitted nude, moaning and in labor.

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