Emmys

Emmys 2012: The Drama Actor Race in Review, Including Our Dream Nominees

After sitting out of the race last year due to Breaking Bad‘s extended hiatus between seasons, Bryan Cranston reclaims his familiar perch as the frontrunner of Emmy’s Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series derby. But is he a lock to win? Not necessarily. The three-time champ faces stiff competition from Homeland‘s Damian Lewis as well as Emmy darling Kelsey Grammer, whose twisted turn on Starz’ Boss earned him a Golden Globe earlier this year. And don’t rule out possible sentimental dark horse Hugh Laurie, who is angling for his seventh — and final — nod as Dr. Gregory House.

More Emmy Races In Review | Outstanding Drama Series | Lead Drama Actress | Supporting Drama Actor | Supporting Drama Actress | Outstanding Comedy Series | Lead Comedy Actor | Lead Comedy Actress | Supporting Comedy Actor | Supporting Comedy Actress | Outstanding Reality-Competition Series | Outstanding Movie/Miniseries

Review this slideshow of the major contenders — including TVLine’s Dream Nominees — then vote below for who you think are the six best. And check back Friday for our preview of the Lead Drama Actress race!

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GET MORE: Awards, Dream Emmy Nominees, Emmys, Lists

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290 Comments
  1. Nicole says:

    Robert Carlyle ‘Once Upon A Time’ missing from this poll is an appalling oversight! No other actor currently on TV demonstrates the range and depth of emotion that Carlyle does.

  2. rdjsusie2012 says:

    Robert Carlyle should be on this list.

  3. Stephen S. says:

    My Dream Nominees:

    Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
    Hugh Laurie, House
    Demian Lewis, Homeland
    Andrew Lincoln, The Walking Dead
    Joshua Jackson, Fringe
    Timothy Olyphant, Justified

    Maybe trade Jackson for either Jim Caviezel in Person of Interest or Jason Isaacs in Awake. But the other 5 keep for sure. And who should win? Probably Lewis, who was unbelievable in Homeland. But I also would love to see Olyphant win and, since he hasn’t won yet and this is his last chance to win, I’d go with Laurie.

  4. Elaine says:

    Show me 1–just ONE–actor in a series of 8 year’s duration who can COMPARE with the talent of Hugh Laurie. Bringing to life pages and pages of dense, compelling dialogue in 177 episodes which were also physically demanding. Never a mediocre, performance, and done in a flawlessly American accent. The equivalent of Ginger Rogers dancing backward in heels to a non-stop up-tempo and more. If there’s any justice on the part of the powers that be, Ugh Laurie has GOT to win the Emmy this year. Stellar doesn’t even begin to describe his acting. He became “House” in November, 2004, and will forever remain “House.” Notwithstanding the strong supporting cast and the great writing,his Interpretation of this complex character was the driver of this series, PERIOD. He’s several seasons overdue for the 2012 Emmy.

    • Polar Bear says:

      he should have won several years ago (maybe twice), but I’m not sure this year he deserves it more than Cranston just because it’s his last year. just look at steve carell.

    • Alexandra says:

      You’re absolutely right.
      (makes me wonder if these awards are really honest.)

      • Alexandra says:

        My comment above (09:54) is directed to Elaine.
        For you Polar Bear i want to say that Hugh Laurie should have won all of which he was nominated. (independent of scrip he receives -he received much crap during the 7season- but the interpretation of Hugh Laurie is always impeccable.

    • gailer says:

      HL is brilliant!

  5. Anne says:

    Isaacs more than deserves a nomination.

  6. still can’t believe why Hugh Laurie hasn’t won one yet when all critics said that he deserved it at least 2 times..may the finale wasn’t the ideal for me but Laurie is always so damn good ..

  7. ln419 says:

    Jason Isaacs deserves more than the Emmy nod, he deserves the hardware accompanying the nod. The work he did in Awake was fantastic, although the show was cancelled. Pleople need to give the season a re-look to consider what this guy did with this character ALL season long, EVERY week; he was extraordinary.

  8. Polar Bear says:

    Hugh Laurie won’t win, just like Steve Carell didn’t win in his last year (although he was much more deserving than Jim Parsons-I don’t care what u say BBT fans). I think it would be nice for Jason Isaacs to be nominated, but I’m not sure if he will.
    As for Cranston, I’d rather him not win and Breaking Bad finally end Mad Men’s reign rather than have Cranston win and Mad Men win like before. Of course, BB deserves both awards.

    • Alexandra says:

      Polar Bear -Interesting, you are literally cheering against him. lol
      I want him to be nominated and win! He deserve, cause he’s a great actor.
      Hugh Laurie was the most responsible for the success of HouseMD.
      And Greg House was the best character that have emerged in recent years.

  9. Verna says:

    Charlie Hunnam is a great actor and deserves to be recognized for his many different roles. He is awsome in Sons of Anarchy and The Ledge but is also wonderful in Nicholas Nickelby and his other films as well. It is time he gets the recognition he deserves.

  10. Alexandra says:

    Hugh Laurie was nominated several times and I dont understand why he never won.
    This is simply shameful.

  11. Jill says:

    If the EMMYS want to redeem themself’s in the eyes of the public yes the would fially give at least one EMMY to Hugh Laurie. It is disgusing beyond words that the man has never won. But they do like to re-repeat dont they James Spader and Bryan Craniston.

  12. Grace says:

    HUGH LAURIE MUST get a nod for [H]OUSE. He was AMAZING for 8 seasons and will be sorely missed by millions of fans. HUGH LAURIE FOR THE WIN!!

  13. reedusfan says:

    I want & I believe, keep my fingers crossed for the most talented yet badass actor Charlie Hunnam. He’s an amazing actor & he should had been nominated plus should had won an Emmy since season 1 of Sons of Anarchy!!! He deserves more than anyone else!!!! I mean these actors, yes, are all amazing but SOA is the only show I care for to watch & never miss a episode of. It’s the best out there….

  14. ivana da livorno italy says:

    dottor house,il migliore in assoluto!!!!

  15. ivana da livorno italy says:

    forse avrei dovuto dire hugh laurie,meglio conosciuto come doc house…

  16. AlexisRae says:

    Charlie hunnam(hands down)

  17. MotorCityMade says:

    Olyphant. Justified. Head, shoulders, and a 10 gallon hat above the rest.

  18. gailer says:

    Only two who deserve it are Jon Hamm and Hugh Laurie. They embody their characters like no others.

  19. CRYSTAL says:

    I ONLY VOTE FOR CHARLIE HUNNAM
    FOR LIFE

  20. Zoë says:

    John noble of fringe really needs to get recognized for his amazing work on that show. :)

  21. Jen V says:

    Peter Dinklage is FANTASTIC and I wish he was included on this list. Charlie Hunnam also is due for acknowledgement….

  22. Jen V says:

    oh and I forgot…in the movie category…I think Michael Fassbender’s wiener should win…

  23. Grace says:

    I don’t really care who wins. HUGH LAURIE is TOO GOOD for a stupid Emmy and he’s my favorite!!

  24. me says:

    It’s a shame Hugh Laurie never won.
    If you don’t let him win this year it will be a real scandal.
    Don’t nominee him just to make him watch someone else win. He doesn’t deserve it for the 7th time

  25. Verna says:

    Definately Charlie Hunnam.

  26. Ellen says:

    I must admit to being puzzled to how Bryan Cranston has won multiple Emmy’s but never a SAG or Golden Globe. But now he is eligible , my head says he will win again.

    That said though I would love Hugh Laurie to win, even though the odds are so stacked against him. He is on network show and it is partly a procedural (both negatives when it comes to the Emmys), furthermore the writing has been heading south for a couple of years now, his character which started off as hardly the most sympathetic has been character assassinated so many times by the writers I have lost count (yet Laurie still manages to get the audience to care about the character) and then there is the revolving door of co-stars which has left him at times having to carry the whole show.

    Yet throughout the whole 8 years he has been superb as House (limp, accent and a ton of medical dialogue adding further to the challenge), totally inhibiting the role, delivering brilliant performances time and time again. 6 time nominated for the role to date, I would love him to win.

  27. kateshomesick says:

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME? No Southland actors? Each and every one of them deserves this award. Thank you very much- in the awkward words of my fellow cheerleaders: You’re welcome :D!

  28. Lilian Be says:

    TIENE QUE GANARLO HUGH LAURIE ES EL MEJOR ACTOR Y LA MEJOR SERIE!!!!HOUSE ES ÚNICO!!!!!!!!

  29. Grace says:

    HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE!
    HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE!
    HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE! HUGH LAURIE!
    There’s at least three times that HUGH LAURIE deserved the EMMY and didn’t get it.
    I was bummed but now I don’t really care. HUGH is way better than an EMMY anyway!
    STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID EMMY VOTERS!!! :(

  30. timmm says:

    Tim Olyphant rocks my socks off in everything he’s ever been in. His Raylan is so perfect, he needs to be recognized for the work he does on that show. Man is underrated and under-appreciated for all of his marvelous talents. He has too few awards to show for his level of awesome.

    I also love me some Michael C. Hall and Damion Lewis, but TO is a GO this and every year.

  31. KenyAlways says:

    NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION! NATHAN FILLION!

  32. rayna *skit* lewis says:

    timothy olyphant….do really have to say more

  33. Benedict. Cumberbatch.

  34. Emily says:

    Really? No one from USA? Gabriel Macht, Suits? Matt Bomer, White Collar? Where are they?

  35. KenyAlways says:

    Castle is an amazing show with extradinary actors and actresses that deserve to atleast be nominated I am very annoyed that the consider it a dramadey its not yes there is some comedy aspects but even comedies have some drama aspects and there not considered comedas or something Castle and Castle’ actress and actors should be included in any drama related nominations.

  36. Barbie says:

    Charlie Hunnam is the only man for this period. The rest are all mind over matter. I don’t mind because they don’t matter only CHARLIE DOES

  37. navistart says:

    Hugh Laurie

  38. Verna says:

    definately Charlie Hunnam. Great actor.

  39. Addie says:

    I nominate Benedict Cumberbatch for being Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock, I mean can you watch Reichanbrach Fall and not have your heart ripped out by his freaking amazing voice and face?

  40. Connor says:

    I’m not even going to waste my time coming up with a list of nominees. Bryan Cranston deserves to win, and that’s all that needs to be said.

  41. Sasha says:

    Jon Hamm and Dustin Hoffman.

  42. I love you ANDREW LINCOLN i have always wanted to meet you I really want to see the third season of the walking dead

  43. You are all wrong Andrew Lincoln just the best he is the best actor the and obviously the best LOOKING I <3 him loadz

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