Emmys 2013: The Lead Drama Actor Race in Review, Including Our 6 Dream Nominees

Emmy Best Actor Drama NomineesOnce upon a time, Breaking Bad powerhouse Bryan Cranston was considered a lock for the winners circle. But, after Homeland’s Damian Lewis kept him from taking home his fourth Emmy last year, nothing is certain — especially with newcomers as formidable as Kevin Spacey and Matthew Rhys now in the race.

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

Review the following slideshow of the major contenders — including TVLine’s Dream Nominees — then hit the comments to vote for who you think are the six best. And check back Wednesday as we tackle the Outstanding Drama Actress 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. Sara says:

    Tatiana Maslany? Oh maybe next season when she plays male clones

  2. rka says:

    Hugh Dancy
    Mads Mikkelsen
    Bryan Cranston
    Damian Lewis
    Jon Hamm

    I have to say that a lot of performances this year just struck me as not impressive at all. Seriously, Downton Abbey? And though I love both Justified and Elementary as shows that are consistently doing something interesting, aside from Walton Goggins’ performance in the former, I think the acting is just workmanlike: doing what it needs to, and nothing more.

  3. EWJ says:

    Charlie Hunnam deserves to win! He was so amazing this year…
    William H. Macy is awesome too.

  4. tereza says:

    I think that Charlie Hunnam deserves it the most, he is a great actor (scene where Opi dies was so emotional) and Bryan Cranston has a lot of awards already.

    • jaxsgirl says:

      Agreed. The scene that gave me chills was towards the end of last season (season 5), when he’s at the table with Bobby just after Clay is voted out. It’s when Jax realizes he has become Clay -the man he despises most. I don’t know that I’ve seen quite the mix of rage and weariness as accurately portrayed in that scene as he smoked a cigarette with tears streaming down his face. Great stuff.

  5. Hugh Dancy on Hannibal, no contest. Literally no one has been better than him this season. His performance is just stunning.

  6. Sylvia says:

    Hugh Dancy he is amazing.

  7. Karen says:

    How the heck is Bryan Cranston not on TvLine’s dream list?! He is undoubtedly the best actor on TV at the moment (possibly equal to Elisabeth Moss)!

    I’d pick:
    Bryan Cranston
    Mads Mikkelsen
    Jon Hamm
    Timothy Olyphant
    Damien Lewis
    Hugh Dancy

  8. Gardener P says:

    Would really like to Timothy Olyphant nominated; he really brings Raylan Givens to life! Definitely a talented actor? Who could forget him in Deadwood? Agree with others above about Charlie Hunnam. SOA does seem to be ignored by the Emmys…wonder why?

    • jaxsgirl says:

      Timonthy Olyphant is very deserving, and so is Justified as a Best Series contender. Critics in every major trade mag laudes Justified not only for acting but for excellent writing. It’s maddening that it’s ignored every awards season.

      Similar case for Charlie Hunnam and SOA. Charlie is unsung but I think he’s time is coming because he’s about to blow up in Hollywood (albeit for an insipid robot v alien flick but at least he’ll get mainstream attention). I am an SOA fanatic but I can admit that there’s better writing out there. SOA does however stand out for acting. Aside from Charlie, there’s Katey Sagal (Golden Globe winner for her part as Gemma back in S2), Ron Perlman, Tommy Flanagan and Ryan Hurst. Those actors are phenomenal.

      What I’m about to say is a generalization, but it’s based in truth. The voting academies favor programming that appeals to the coasts (NY & LA). Mad Men, Homeland, West Wing, Sopranos, and even int’l period pieces like Downton Abbey (which has good acting performances but absolutely absurd writing). But the academies ignore dramas with elements that appeal to the heartland/rural viewers. Series like SOA, Justified, and even urban masterpieces like The Wire. The bias is so blatent is laughable. And to me, it severely compromises the credibility of the award programs as a whole.

  9. Johnathan says:

    We can we please stop talking about The Walking Dead as if it’s a good show? Please. I’m really begging you. It’s bad melodrama with poorly drawn characters and contrived plot lines. Oh and there are zombies. Zombies and people trying to act serious does not a great drama make.

    • Tania says:

      You are entitled to YOUR opinion Johnathan. Just as those who want to discuss The Walking Dead are entitled to THEIRS. As a person who has watched TWD from the beginning I can confidently say that it is a fantastic drama and the performances from the cast are rock solid. Poorly drawn characters? Contrived plot lines. Clearly you know nothing about either. This is MY opinion. We’ll have agree to disagree.

  10. Tania says:

    My picks for consideration in no particular order (and yes, there’s more than 6. It’s a tough category).

    Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead)
    Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
    Damian Lewis (Homeland)
    Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary)
    Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
    Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
    Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
    Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel)
    Robert Taylor (Longmire)
    Jim Caviezel (Person of Interest)

  11. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Wow, you guys are really coloring outside the lines with your picks in this category. I like it though. But I wish you had added Timothy Olyphant in there.
    My dream picks would be: Damian Lewis, Timothy Olyphant, Bryan Cranston, William H. Macy, Jon Hamm, and Jeff Daniels. I would want Damian Lewis to win because I really was blown away by Q&A. (Ha, blown away. See what I did there? There was no bomb!) I don’t think anyone else beats that episode.
    I think that’s mostly how the nominees will go. Though substitute Macy for Steve Buscemi. And I’m not sold on Olyphant getting nominated. He may be replaced by either Emmy favorite Michael C. Hall or Kevin Spacey. I just can’t decide if the Emmys will take House of Cards seriously or not since it’s an Internet series. They may get snobby about it and think only actual TV shows should be nominated. And I can’t quite decide who wins. My heart wants to believe it will be Damian Lewis, but after Cranston’s Golden Globe and Critics Choice wins, it might be him. I think that’s going to be an extremely close race, probably the closest out of all the categories.

  12. Ashok says:

    Is there no love here for John Noble? :(

    • hedi says:

      Exactly! He did such an amazing job over 5 yrs of Fringe and also in the finale. Its a TOTAL shame that Emmys doesn’t care about sci/fi shows, they’re really missing alot

  13. Charlie Hunnam for the win

  14. M DuMontier says:

    In order order of favorites to win:

    Timothy Olyphant
    Charlie Hunnam
    Mads Mikkelsen
    Michael C Hall
    Matthew Rhys

  15. Decca sweets says:

    Hugh dancy.

  16. schu says:

    Peter Krause & Matthew Rhys! Either for the win! If Peter Krause at least gets a nod that would be remarkable, he deserves it!

  17. jaxsgirl says:

    Charlie Hunnam is more than deserving of a nomination.
    Same for Timothy Olyphant.
    I’d also like to see Kevin Spacey get a nom for House of Cards.

    For winner, I’d vote for Charlie Hunnam. But, voting academies largely ignore gritty, violent but not mob-related dramas that feature and/or appeal to the working class so… I predict they’ll give it to Damian Lewis.

  18. i luv sons of anachary wait all yr 2 watch it one of the best shows on tv and charlie is not just the sexiest but is the best actor i think out of all the shows fresh young easy on the eyes n a amazing actor so hes a win win!!! it should win hands down n sons of anachary should win best show too…luv u charlie would give anything 2 meet u

  19. Elisabeth says:

    Charlie Hunnam

  20. Mazz says:

    You have Andrew Lincoln as a dream nominee over Bryan Cranston and Timothy Olyphant? Uhh, no.

  21. Julia Romanaz says:

    Mads Mikkelsen
    Hugh Dancy

    AMAZING actors, seriously.

  22. Sara says:

    Mads Mikkesen
    Hugh Dancy
    They really should be nominated; they actually deserve more than nomination. A cannibal sure is a super demanding role to act, and Mr. Mikkelsen has been wonderful; his original interpretation of the character makes the Hannibal of the drama series original. Will Graham is also a very delicate role to act, and Hugh Dancy has been amazing… specifically when he acted the seizure in the latest episode. Awesome actors!

  23. argo says:

    Would have to give it to Hugh Dancy. He has been a revelation. Absolutely amazing.

  24. Poppy says:

    I would like for Aden Young (Rectify) to get a nomination

  25. Mimi says:

    Hugh Dancy
    Mads Mikkelsen
    Kevin Bacon
    Steve Buscemi
    Jonny Lee Miller
    Jeff Daniels

  26. hedi says:

    I think it’s time for Emmys to look at some new shows; they’ve been giving all the awards to Breaking Bad and Homeland and GOT and Mad Men for the past few years and it’s almost like they don’t care to check out new shows and keep nominating the good ones they did past year! I truly hope they don’t over look Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen amazingly brilliant acting, they both are doing an awesome job there, considering they don’t have the huge budget like cable networks and all, but they’re doing a fantastic job. If Emmy overlook this show at any category, it shows how lazy they are for checking out new things!
    So my vote and dream is obviously Hugh Dancy & Mads Mikkelsen !

  27. TJ says:

    Hugh Dancy is so fantastic. Riveting as he goes thru his turmoil of dealing with the violence around him. Totally deserves at least a nomination.

  28. Verna says:

    Charlie Hunnam is such a talented actor and should win

  29. kirads09 says:

    Hugh Dancy without question
    * I would rather see James Purefoy considered rather than Bacon. Or would he be considered “supporting”. Purefoy is phenomenal as Joe in the Following.

  30. ROBERT CARLYLE FOR LEAD ACTOR IN BEST DRAMA SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He needs to be NOMINATED and he needs to WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Nabila says:

    Top 6: Hugh Bonneville, Hugh Dancy, Jeff Daniels, Michael C. Hall, Johnny Lee Miller, and Steve Buscemi.

  32. mikerochen says:

    Kelsey Grammer, The Boss
    Damian Lewis, Homeland
    Johnny Lee Miller, Elementary
    Jim Caviezel, Person of Interest
    Nathan Fillion, Castle

    I notice that Jim Caviezel and Nathan Fillion aren’t even listed here, but they certainly deserve recognition. In fact, among my choices above, I would rank them in order as (1) Miller, (2) Fillion, (3) Lewis, (4) Caviezel, and (5) Grammer.
    On a related note, I should acknowledge that Jeff Daniels is great. However, The Newsroom is left-wing crap propaganda disguised as entertainment. Aaron Sorkin has really lost his touch since The West Wing, and The Newsroom is just further proof of that fact.

  33. carlyn says:

    Where is James Purefoy on the list? The Following is dark and not everyone’s cup of tea, but Purefoy is perfectly-evil perfection! Stands out from all the others. Riveting to watch.
    Maybe next time?

  34. Maureen says:

    Nathan Fillion and Jim Caviezel will most likely be overlooked once more for Best Actor Drama Nominations. I remember when there were separate categories for Network and Cable Series. Emmy Voters seem to go for the razzle dazzle of cable series that have tremendous publicity machines year after year. TIME TO GO BACK TO SEPARATE EMMY CATEGORIES, Television Academy!


  36. I don’t watch most of the shows listed, and many of them are on HBO which I do not have. Therefor I am voting for ROBERT CARLYLE for BEST LEAD ACTOR in a TV Series ONCE UPON A TIME!!!!!!! Not one of the actors you have chosen FOR us to pick from, is worthy of a nomination because not one of them are even close to the talent that ROBERT CARLYLE has. They just do NOT matcvh up..

  37. Miranda says:

    YES x 1000 for all the Matthew Rhys acclaim. He is mesmerizing and a stone cold fox on The Americans. Really hoping he gets nominated alongside Lewis, Cranston and Oliphant (speaking of stone cold foxes).

  38. kristina says:

    charlie hunnam deserves it!

  39. wish i was tara! says:

    charlie hunnam all day…soa is hands down one of the best shows on tv!!!!

  40. Vikki Gamier says:

    Where are Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen from Hanniba? They are definately emmy contenders!

    • Alex says:

      I’m quite certain that Mads Mikkelson has submitted himself for Best Supporting Actor.
      Though I would certainly support Hugh Dancy for Best Drama Actor. I’ve only now got hooked to Hannibal and the entire cast is terrific.

  41. Sean says:

    It’s too bad that more people aren’t keyed into what Aden Young is doing on “Rectify,” which for my money was easily one of the top two or three dramas this past year (it’s in competition with Hannibal, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones, probably). He’s incredibly subtle and charismatic in a complex, difficult role, on a tremendous show that simply put wouldn’t work at all without a performance as strong as his at the center. I’d probably give him the win, actually, although Hugh Dancy is a very, very close number 2.