Emmys: Among the Drama and Comedy Actors, Do Incumbents Have the Advantage?

7:00 AM 8/14/2018

by Scott Feinberg

Last year's winners — Donald Glover for 'Atlanta' and Sterling K. Brown for 'This Is Us' — are primed for repeats, but plenty of other comedy and drama champs could run away with the trophy.

  • Anthony Anderson

    'Black-ish' (ABC)

    Ron Tom/ABC

    The 47-year-old is nominated for the fourth year in a row; this is the third year in which his nom comes alongside a series nom. His prospects may be boosted by his show's big audience and being this category's only contender who was also nominated this year for Golden Globe, SAG and Critics' Choice awards.

    On the other hand... It would be unusual to win a first award for a show's fourth season. Plus, the LAPD is investigating allegations that he assaulted a woman.

  • Ted Danson

    'The Good Place' (NBC)

    Colleen Hayes/NBC

    This marks the 70-year-old TV icon's first nom for one of broadcast's most critically acclaimed comedies — and his 16th overall. The two-
time winner (for Cheers) gave a far more colorful turn in season two after more was revealed about his character's true intentions. In January, he picked 
up this category's Critics' Choice award.

    On the other hand... His is one of only 
two noms accorded his show, which is not a series nominee (the same is true of Macy).

  • Larry David

    'Curb Your Enthusiasm' (HBO)

    Courtesy of HBO

    After a six-year hiatus, the Seinfeld co-creator brought his semiautobiographical show back for a ninth season, scoring his sixth acting nom. His character's curmudgeonly tendencies also landed him a SAG Award nom in January.

    On the other hand... David, 71, has never been awarded for 
his acting. Many reviewers opined that the show's 
new episodes felt a bit tired when they were fresh — and some of them are now nearly a year old.

  • Donald Glover

    'Atlanta' (FX)

    Courtesy of FX

    At 34, last year's winner is again the youngest nominee and again nominated for his producing, directing 
and writing on the show — plus, this year, for his hosting stint on Saturday Night LiveAtlanta has more nominations (16) than any other comedy, and many feel that its second season was even stronger than its first.

    On the other hand... Could it be Bill Hader's turn to be the TV Academy's multihyphenate darling for a new show?

  • Bill Hader

    'Barry' (HBO)

    Courtesy of HBO

    The SNL alum, 40, is hotter than ever, having landed noms this year for hosting that show and writing, directing, producing and starring in this one — HBO's new, dark comedy about a hitman who wants to become an actor. If history is any indication, a show about Hollywood could play as well with the actual denizens of the town as with anyone.

    On the other hand... HBO also has to push David, with whom it has a long-standing relationship, in this race.

  • William H. Macy

    'Shameless' (Showtime)

    Courtesy of Showtime

    For his eighth season playing perpetual screw-up Frank, the veteran character actor is nominated for the fifth year in a row (and 11th time overall, for acting — he won in 2002 for TV movie Door to Door). In January, he won a SAG Award for the third time in four years and was a Globe nominee.

    On the other hand... Macy, 68, has never won for this part. And considering his is one of only two noms accorded his show, which is not a series nominee, it's hard to imagine him winning now.

  • Jason Bateman

    'Ozark' (Netflix)

    Courtesy of Netflix

    For Netflix's rookie show about a family man laundering money for a drug cartel, the Arrested Development star is nominated for both acting and directing. Already 
a Golden Globe and SAG nominee, he is Netflix's 
only horse in this category, so expect an aggressive campaign.

    On the other hand... Bateman, 49, is the only nominee whose series didn't get a nom. 
He also lost some fans with his response to harassment claims against Arrested co-star Jeffrey Tambor.

  • Sterling K. Brown

    'This Is Us' (NBC)

    Ron Batzdorff/NBC

    Can he three-peat? He won in 2016 for The People v. O.J. Simpson and in 2017 for This Is Us. This year, the 42-year-old is nominated for this performance as well as for 
a guest turn on Fox's (now to be NBC's) Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Having won this year's Golden Globe, SAG and Critics' Choice awards, he looks hard to beat.

    On the other hand... He'll compete against co-star Milo Ventimiglia. And it's been eight years since someone captured this award in consecutive years.

  • Ed Harris

    'Westworld' (HBO)

    John P. Johnson/HBO

    For his haunting portrayal of William, aka the Man in Black, Harris, 67, picked up Emmy nom No. 3 (he has yet to win), one of 21 for his show this year — another of which was for co-star Wright in this category. He will be competing for the season's ninth episode, in which 
he kills someone near and dear to him.

    On the other hand... Some feel that his was more of a supporting role, which, along with sharing the category with Wright, could cause him problems.

  • Matthew Rhys

    'The Americans' (FX)

    Courtesy of FX

    For the final season of this critical hit, 
on which Rhys, 43, and Keri Russell wrapped up the story of the Russian spy couple, he received his third consecutive nom. A show about Russians meddling in U.S. society has never felt timelier, and FX will go all-in on getting recognition for it.

    On the other hand... Of the shows in this category, his earned the fewest noms (four) 
and almost certainly had the lowest viewership (Netflix doesn't disclose audience numbers).

  • Milo Ventimiglia

    'This Is Us' (NBC)

    Courtesy of Ron Batzdorff/NBC

    At the beginning of season two of television's highest-rated scripted series, viewers finally found out how Jack Pearson, America's favorite TV dad, died — and then, thanks to the time-jumping format of the show, still got to see more of him when 
he was alive. As a result, the 40-year-old who plays 
him is a lead nominee for the second year in a row.

    On the other hand... It certainly doesn't improve his chances to have to compete in the same category as Brown, the defending champ.

  • Jeffrey Wright

    'Westworld' (HBO)

    Courtesy of HBO

    This 2004 winner 
for Angels in America and 2017 supporting actor nominee for this show is now a lead nominee for his portrayal of Bernard, a 
host in search of freedom who is in some ways the heart of the trippy drama (which has more noms than any other series represented in this category). His episode submission is the 90-minute, mind-bending season finale.

    On the other hand... It will be hard for voters to choose 
one Westworld star over another.

    This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.