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

This year’s Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama race could come down to a duel between ’10 champ Aaron Paul (back in the running after a year of hiatus-imposed ineligibility) and last year’s victor Peter Dinklage (still very much on top of his, um, game.)

A wildcard to watch: Paul’s Breaking Bad co-star Giancarlo Esposito, who made one of TV’s most memorable exits ever.

More Emmy Races In Review | Outstanding Drama Series | Lead Drama Actor | Lead Drama Actress | 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 Wednesday for our preview of the Supporting Actress Drama race!

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. Matt Hrivnak says:

    So hard to choose between Peter Dinklage, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito, or John Noble. Ugh

  2. Angela says:

    John Noble!!!! Fringe cast has been so deserving of an Emmy, but they are always ignored in favor of the same actors from the same shows every year, seriously they’re are other people in the acting world! Also Anna Torv is the most deserving of an Emmy!!! Try playing almost 10 versions of the same character!!!

  3. laurel says:

    I can’r imagine Michael Cudlitz getting a nomination based on his work this past season. Definitely the earlier seasons his work was much better but in season 4 his character definitely took a back seat to Tang. Too bad he can’t get nominated based on the series as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good actor, it’s just his work this season does not warrant a nomination, even as a dream nomination.

  4. Karo says:

    The supporting actor/actress categories are mostly more exciting to predict than the Leading ones. There are mostly some welcome surprises:
    However i guess:

    Peter Dinklage,G.Esposito & Aaron Paul are a sure thing to get a nomination.

    The other three spots are more difficult to predict:
    The Good wife is a critics darling, so i would say neither Josh or Alan will get a nom again. Josh had the meatier storyline this season but i think Alan is the better actor,it is a Sophies Choice.

    The other two will likely go to John Slattery and Mandy Patinkin,though i hope not. I hope that Robert Carlyle, Robert Sean Leonard will made the list. Both did an amazing acting job this season and deserve some recognition. My fingers are crossed. :)

  5. mooseonajew says:

    “Leonard hasn’t nabbed a nomination in House’s entire eight-season run” .And that is because his talent was underused much of the time! The Emmy’s failed back in 2008 with his performance in the Season 4 finale.

    He was finally given the chance to shine again in the final episodes. The man is a Tony Award winner. Would dearly love to see him being recognized for his work here. It’s time.

  6. Lia says:

    Aaron Pau or Peter Dinklage, no one else needs to show up

  7. JenniferH says:

    I’d be inclined to nominate Jared Harris over John Slattery (as great as Slattery is). Keeping my fingers crossed for Mandy Patinkin (and Robert Sean Leonard, though that will probably never happen).

  8. AJ says:

    1. Peter Dinklage – Winner by a landslide
    2. John Noble – Should be the winner by a landslide
    3. Aaron Paul – Simply amazing on BB
    4. Walton Goggins – He does crazy so well
    5. Joel Kinnaman – He gets far less credit than he should
    6. Giancarlo Esposito – loved him on BB

  9. John Noble and Peter Dinklage are definitely the two actors who deserve it the most from this list. Sadly, the Emmys definitely have something against the sci-fi and fantasy worlds… But Dinklage did it last year so why couldn’t he do it again along with Noble after all? Fingers crossed!

  10. Superhero says:

    This is probably the deepest of all the categories.If I had my druthers, the nominations would be:

    Aaron Paul
    Giancarlo Esposito
    Peter Dinklage
    Mandy Patinkin
    Walton Goggins
    Michael Pitt

    In reality, I’m sure John Slattery will still get a nod, even though I’m not sure he’s had one episode this season where he particularly shined. He’ll probably be in over Pitt.

  11. Marie says:

    Robert Sean Leonard or Mandy Patinkin, truly define the name supporting actor for me.

  12. Sue says:

    Tie between Jon berthanal Michael Pitt Robert Carlyle and Robert Sean Leonard

  13. veronic says:

    ROBERTTTTTTTTTTTTT¡¡¡¡ (and Josh Dallas :D)

  14. Jones says:

    I would like to vote for John Noble 6 times, please. Thank you.

  15. Jon Huertas, “Castle” I wish they would quit neglecting Castle. Just because it has a little comedy sprinkled in, does not make it any less of a DRAMA.

    • Nameless says:

      Are you serious? I mean, I knew you Castle fans were completely batsh!t insane based on the previous articles, but even most of them have been smart enough not to even try here. If you honestly think that Jon freaking Huertas does anything remotely close to the level that some of the guys listed do, you’re on a whole different playing field of craziness. And I’m sorry to inform you, but the reason Castle is *neglected* is not because it’s a dramedy; it’s *neglected* because it’s a standard procedural that does absolutely nothing we haven’t already seen a million times.

    • John says:

      Huerates is quite good but it’s laughable to put him on par with Giancarlo Esposito, Peter Dinklage, Neal McDonaguh, even Alan Cumming’s role is more juicy than Huerates been there done that performance. I personally cant wait for them to see who the Castle fans(even though I like that show) champion for Best Supporting Actress against Kelly Macdonald, Christine Baranski, Anna Gunn and so forth

  16. Tess says:

    John Noble and Michael Pitt.

  17. Linderella says:

    Joel Kinnaman’s The Killing performance is a definite standout and Justin Chamblers, GA’s Alex Karev, is sadly missing from the list. Unfortunately, I doubt seriously either one of these fine actors will make the list of nominated actors.

  18. A.J. says:

    Just realizing how few of these shows I watch. Definitely Peter Dinklage, absolutely Michael Pitt (though he should get a lead nod), John Slattery, and Giancarlo Esposito. Since I don’t watch anything else on this list, I also picked Michael K. Williams and Aaron Paul, but I would love to see Jared Harris, Vincent Kartheiser, Jeremy Allen White, or even Gabriel Mann get a nomination.

  19. Amanda says:

    As much as I wish it was different I don’t expect anyone from Fringe to actually win an Emmy but the fact that John Noble has never even been acknowledged with a nomination is just wrong.

  20. Becky Vann says:

    More of you need to be watching Southland and Justified. All of the men on the ballot from both were tremendous this past season.

  21. Bella says:

    I wish I could vote 6 times for John Noble!

  22. Ally says:

    There’s a few names I would add to this list: Gabriel Mann (Revenge) was simply stellar in Revenge as Nolan. Justin Chambers (Grey’s Anatomy) is underrated for the fantastic job he does as Alex. Cody Monteith (Glee). as Finn I would give a nomination for only based on that amazing car scene in the finale. Another actor that impressed me this year was Joseph Morgan (Vampire Diaries) who played Klaus–he really stole the show. Craig T. Nelson (Parenthood) also does good work playing Zeke.

    I realize cable is going to get most of the drama noms but I live in Canada so many of thr current cable shows don’t even air up here in the same year as they do in the States so I have no way to rate them.

  23. CUDLITZ! It’s past time.

  24. jake says:

    jessica lange for american horror should get nominated, love that show

  25. kate says:

    Never thought I’d say this, but! … Jared Harris, ‘Mad Men’ … I don’t know if he’d be eligible this year or next, but definitely, for his work these past few week and especially last week, dream nominee/winner is Jared Harris.

  26. kate says:

    also, Joel Kinnaman on ‘The Killing’ is way underrated as Stephen Holder. The progression of the show is terrible, but the performances by him and Mireille Enos are incredible.

  27. Gilda says:

    Robert Carlyle has impressed me so much this year on Once Upon a Time. He is so deserving of a nomination. I’m not going to hold my breath because the Emmys are typically so biased against fantasy and scifi, but he is a highly respected author, so it could work out. John noble, obviously, is fantastic, and they need to cotton on and nominate him. But I feel like he had ever so slightly meatier material last year and didn’t get it. But I really hope it work out for them both, because they are doing amazing work.

  28. Kelly says:

    Robert Carlyle for Once Upon a Time has to be nominated. He was the break through of the year. Rumpelstiltskin is epic. Like all the rave about Joker in the dark knight epic.

    also would love to see fringe’s john noble and joshua jackson get nominated.

  29. Charlotte says:

    Mandy Patinkin.
    Michael Cudlitz
    and thank you for your Dream nominee of Shawn Hatosy TVLine! He’s my top pick!

  30. c says:

    I wish Vincent Kartheiser would get an Emmy nom.

  31. Natalie says:

    Dinklage for sure. Mandy Patinkin and/or John Slattery did an excellent job this season too.

  32. oliver says:

    hands down..John Noble should be the flat out winner. Nails every scene in every episode for the past four years. nuff said

  33. Grace says:


  34. Liz says:

    JOHN NOBLE, please godammit!!

  35. Gaby says:

    Smash’s Christian Borle. He’s been the constant on that show!

  36. Adam Benson says:

    Why are Joel Kinnaman and Aaron Paul supporting actors? They should be in best actor character, they have just a big a role as their counterparts IMO.

  37. Grace says:

    More people REALLY NEED to watch JUSTIFIED. You don’t know what a good show you are missing.

  38. Nancy says:


  39. Sareeta says:

    So many good actors to pick from!
    1. Peter Dinklage (Tyrion f-ing Lannister!)
    2. Walton Goggins (my 2nd favorite character next to Raylan)
    3. Michael Pitt (RIP, Jimmy!)
    4. John Noble (seeing the two Walters interact was one of the highlights of this season as well as what Dr. Bishop did in the finale)
    5. Aaron Paul (he’s always been very good, but was particularly great at showing the toll the lifestyle is taking on Jesse)
    6. Giancarlo Esposito (the season of Gus)

  40. kateshomesick says:

    Give the damn awards to the entirety of the Southaldn cast already…there is nothing on right now that comes even close…

  41. rose says:

    Carlyle. No question.

  42. downsidebob says:

    The cast of leverage another glaring miss
    House is a worn out show.
    Where’s. NCis , mentalist, suits,

  43. KC says:

    John Noble deserves all the freaking awards. It’s a pleasure to enjoy his outstanding work as Dr. Walter Bishop and Walter (among the several different incarnations and shades of the character that he has perfectly portrayed), and it’s a shame that he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves simply because he works in a sci-fi show. Once again I’m gonna get angry if he doesn’t get a nomination, but whatever the Emmys do, it doesn’t change the fact that his is one of the best male performances on tv.

  44. Nicole says:

    I just voted for Robert Carlyle, from Once Upon A Time. Considering he is likely submitting Skin Deep as his Emmy consideration episode, I think he should be included in the lead actor poll, but vote for him in this poll any way, because there is no other actor currently on TV that displays the depth and range of emotion that Carlyle does in his performances. Simply the best, no matter what category!

  45. Vincent Kartheiser is criminally underrated. John Slattery’s fantastic on “Mad Men” but this was Pete Campbell’s year.

  46. michelle says:

    Brent Sexton- The Killing
    Jeremy Allen White- Shameless

  47. the #s dont lie…Peter Dinklage,hands down

  48. navistart says:

    Robert Carlyle ‘Once Upon a Time’

  49. Jamie says:

    Aaron Paul! Or Peter Dinklage. But I really have to lean more towards Aaron Paul. He’s just brilliant.

  50. Oh my goodness!!! Robert Sean Leonard!! He’s had so many amazing moments on House! This is like his last chance to get something for all of his outstanding work on the show! House is over people! This is like his last chance! He deserves this sooo much! Love you Robert♥