Emmys 2011: Who Deserves the Award for Guest Actor in a Drama?

The competition for the 2011 Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series can be broken into two distinct categories: Those who’ve already won an Emmy, and those who got their very first nomination just this year.

In the former group, we’ve got five-time Emmy winner Michael J. Fox (The Good Wife) and three-time winner Beau Bridges (Brothers & Sisters), both of whom are veterans of the Guest Actor wars, albeit for different series than the ones for which they’re nominated in 2011. (Bridges scored nods in 2010, 2009, 2007, and 1995 for The Closer, Desperate Housewives, My Name Is Earl, and The Outer Limits; Fox won in 2009 for Rescue Me, and was in the hunt in 2006 for Boston Legal.) Meanwhile, Robert Morse, who took home the Emmy statuette for Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for American Playhouse back in 1993, seeks his first win after three Guest Actor nominations in the last four years for Mad Men.

Conversely, Big Love‘s Bruce Dern, Harry’s Law‘s Paul McCrane, and Justified‘s Jeremy Davies are all celebrating their first moment of Emmy anticipation this year.

Which one of these fine gentlemen most deserves to take that proud walk to the podium when the Emmys are handed out Sept.18? Take our poll below to vote for your favorite — TVLine voting closes Sept. 13, so act now! — then hit the comments to justify your pick!

Every day for the next month, we’ll launch another “Who Should Win” Emmy poll, so come back to TVLine.com every day to weigh in on who’s most worthy of TV’s biggest honor, and to stay up to speed on all our races, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Sarah, not Sarah says:

    I really would like to see Morse win if for no other reason than I really get a kick out of his transformation from aspiring executive J. Pierrepont Finch to Bert Cooper, daffy executive extraordinaire. And y’know, not having seen any of the other shows, I really can’t offer any insight into their actual quality.

    • Sable says:

      I agree. I saw Bobby Morse on Broadway in the original How To Succeed with Michelle Lee, Rudy Vallee, and Charles Nelson Reilly. Morse was perfect as Finch and has proven to be a versatile actor over the years.

  2. Dessy says:

    Michael J Fox

  3. Kirkland Fox says:

    Jeremy Davies!

    For sure, or Morse.

  4. Kristen says:

    Jeremy Davies. Because he’s great on Justified, and also because he was robbed for Lost.

  5. Amber says:

    I voted for Jeremy Davies. That guy is a god to me. But I do think Michael J. Fox is going to win it. MAYBE Robert Morse, but probably Michael J. Fox.

    • Rowan says:

      I voted for Jeremy Davies as well. He took a role that could have been cliche and made it something special. The whole field this time is fantastic. Everyone on that list deserves to win, but I think it will be Michael J Fox who gets the statue.

  6. t.t says:

    I love the good wife and think michael is amazing however I think Paul McCrane from harry’s law deserves this he was excellent balanced a bit of comedy along with drama.

  7. Molly says:

    Jeremy Davies. Cmon. He is just so phenomenal and kept me in love with Dickie even as he was beating RayRay with a bat.

    That’s talent.

  8. Sam says:

    Jeremy Davies. Because he played an terrible person and yet still made me want to sleep with him.
    Also, this whole guest-vs.-supporting thing confuses me. He was in eleven episodes of Justified this spring. Mary-Louise Parker won the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress when she was just guest-starring on The West Wing. So what gives? Does it have to be “special guest star” or something?

  9. Kate says:

    The one who should win, but isn’t one of the nominees, is Bob Newhart for his turn on NCIS. He was robbed!

    • Z says:

      Please stop with the NCIS Emmy stuff…I LOVE Bob Newhart…he was robbed for all his years on his eponymous sitcom and Newhart….but there has never been anything on NCIS worthy of an acting Emmy.

      • Jala says:

        In your opinion maybe- but everyone is entitled to their own thoughts. I happen to be in the camp that thinks NCIS deserves more recognition than it’s given. It’s not just ‘another procedural.’ there’s more to it than that in my opinion. Be nice and respect other peoples’ opinions… Ps- Did you SEE the episode ‘Requiem’? Enough said.

  10. noo says:

    i still think that johnny lee miller’s performance on dexter should have granted him at least a nomination, that said i do love michael j fox’s good wife character and hope he wins!!!

  11. Adriaan says:

    I’m gonna have to say Jeremy Davies as well. Great performance, great writing, and a character “I loved to hate”. He deserves this win!

  12. sash fan says:

    Jeremy Davies!!! He was wonderful. Is MAGS nominated too?

  13. Becky says:

    Andrew McCarthy in White Collar

  14. Amy says:

    I have only seen Michael J. Fox on The Good Wife, and he was brilliant, so I vote for him. But I will also cheer for Jeremy Davies as I am always a fan of any Lost alum.

    • Poppy says:

      Agreed – either MJF or JD will make me happy. Both performances were amazing. MJF’s shark-like lawyering on The Good Wife; or JD who is obviously not the favorite son and trying to prove his worth to Mags with devastating consequences on Justified (one of the best shows on TV). Decisions, decisions, decisions…

  15. Sourabh says:

    Definitely Jeremy Davies.

    And Michael J. Fox after him.

  16. Renee says:

    IMO Jeremy Davies should win, but Michael J. Fox will win.

  17. Liz says:

    DENIS O’HARE from True Blood! Can’t believe he wasn’t nominated…

  18. J.Norman says:

    Who cares.
    This category is basically a place for the Hollywood community to award someone who THEY deem is worthy of recognition. The may be for political statements, “good soldiering”, reward for past performances, or even sympathy.
    The rules for what constitutes a “guest performance” can vary from one to as many as 20 appearances per year (e.g. Cloris Leachman in Raising Hope)
    Cynical? Yes,
    Truthful? also yes.

  19. Lamar says:

    This category once made perfect sense as pretty much everyone on every TV show was either a regular or a guest star (and the same shows would use the same guest actors over and over in different roles). But in the modern era of the serialized drama and the recurring character, the Emmys need to drop the hammer here and create four distinct categories: Lead, Supporting, Recurring and Guest Star. Lead vs. Supporting could be tough to quantify, so I’d let the actors continue to decide but the others are easy: if you are listed in the credits as a regular, you’re Supporting. If you’re not and you were in more than one episode, you’re Recurring. And if you’re in only one episode you’re a guest.

    • Ben says:

      Not the worst idea ever.

    • MrMank says:

      I agree. This makes perfect sense.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      Excellent idea! The only thing I’d add – if an actor was just in a two-parter, that still qualifies as guest. Most of the nominees that come from the procedurals (the CSIs, NCIS, Criminal Minds, The Closer) or medical shows like Grey’s Anatomy are just in one episode but other nominees, like many of those this year (Mary McDonnell, Bruce Dern, etc.) are really recurring characters (especially those named since McDonnell has been on at least two seasons of The Closer for multiple episodes and Bruce Dern has been part of Big Love for its entire run).

    • E says:


  20. carole says:

    No Robert Wagner on NCIS?

  21. MJ says:

    Jeremy Davies!! he was brillant as Dickie but I think Michael J. Fox is gonna win this one cause everybody loves the guy.

  22. Ben says:

    I love Michael J Fox. Everyone loves Michael J Fox. He is a fantastic actor, I love just about every character he touches. Should he win this Emmy? No. Jeremy Davies should. I hope Fox doesn’t because I think it would be more a vote for Fox than a vote for what is actually on display in this case.

  23. JLM4ever says:

    None of the actors put forth are as worthy of an Emmy as Jonny Lee Miller in the 5th season of Dexter. His portrayal of Jordan Chase was perfection. There is no better actor (or even one as skilled) on stage or in films or television.

  24. MrMank says:

    I feel another Fox win coming on, but I simply can’t get enough of Morse in Mad Men.

  25. Matt says:

    I would love it if Beau Bridges took the award! He was delightful on Brothers & Sisters.

  26. Teresa says:

    Michael will win. There is not doubt about it.

  27. 8daysaweek says:

    You confuse me sammybabe. First, a coherent thought actually related to the article and then spam for a dating website. I… I don’t know what to think.

  28. Aprilcot26 says:

    None of the above. I’m still pissed that Denis O’Hare got snubbed for ‘True Blood’.

  29. lawyerchick99 says:

    Fox will win because of the name game.

    I watched all of these gentlemen’s shows and all were great. I voted for Bruce Dern because he made a total (insert expletive here) seem somewhat human, and Big Love totally got the short end of the HBO nominations. Jeremey Davies made me forget that he was ever on Lost, so that is a herculean feat alone.

    I also agree that Johnny Lee Miller was totally awesome in Dexter and got robbed.

  30. Katie says:

    Jeremy Irons for SVU!! But he was snubbed. Fantastic performance

  31. Alex says:

    Jeremy Davies! What an amazing chamelion-like actor. He went from angelic in Lost to an absolute cretin in Justifed and really held his own opposite Margo Martindale and Timothy Olyphant. He probably doesn’t stand a chance though since he’s the youngest of the nominees.

  32. kierahillmin says:

    My vote goes to Michael J. Fox.

  33. Stephen S. says:

    Jeremy Davies by far! Brides and Fox are good, but c’mon! Davies was truly outstanding!