Emmys Drama Actor

Emmys 2016: Lead Actor in a Drama Series — Our 7 Dream Nominees!

With Mad Men and The Newsroom both off the air, there’ll be at least two new slots available in the 2016 Emmy race for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series.

And not to be too presumptuous, but we’ve got a few ideas the good voters of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences might consider that would have TV fans crying out “Cool!” “Fresh!” and “Funky!” (Those are still acceptable exclamations among the hip and relevant nowadays, right?)

For the record, 2016 Emmy nominations will be made from June 13-27, and announced July 14. The 68th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, is slated to air Sunday, Sept. 18 on ABC.

Check out the gallery below — or click here for direct access — to see our fresh-blood ideas, then tell us if our picks warrant a “Woot!,” a “Whaaaat?” or a crisp slap of rebuke!

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. Lala says:

    I’m not sure if these two shows qualify for Emmys but:
    Aidan Turner – Poldark
    Jonathan Pine – The Night Manager

    • skyebright8 says:

      They’ll both probably pick up Baftas if the Emmys don’t pick them

    • maggie says:

      I think that The Night Manager will be put in the mini-series category, and will be shocked if it doesn’t get nominations for Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie. Poldark is doing a second season, so it may be eligible in the regular series category. But, as much as I love Aidan Turner, I don’t think he’ll be nominated for an Emmy. Too many actors in shows with more buzz, and that counts, unfortunately. Many deserving performers get overlooked.

  2. Joey Padron says:

    Hope Freddy and Rami get nominated for first time! Hope Bob gets nominated for Better Call Saul again!

  3. ToyCannon says:

    My Nominees:
    — Jason Beghe (Chicago P.D.)
    — Bobby Cannavale (Vinyl)
    — Kyle Chandler (Bloodline)
    — Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
    — Grant Gustin (The Flash)
    — Rami Malek (Mr. Robot)

  4. Ralph says:

    Freddie Highmore if there is ANY justice. To make you care and be terrified of Norman like he does. It’s amazing how he takes on Anthony Perkins LEGENDARY character, makes it his own and expands on it so!

    I’d also like to see Grant Gustin nominated, but the Academy will NEVER recognize a genre show

  5. xyz says:

    No love for POI?

    • RobTO says:

      Michael Emerson deserves a nomination for supporting actor.

    • Maria says:

      It’s no longer “cool” to nominate actors/shows that people actually watch on “regular” tv. Makes me miss the 80’s when shows like Cheers got nominated for…and won…awards. Shows that everybody knew.

  6. webly3 says:

    These nominees could not be better. These definitely match my dream nominations.

  7. Jax&Juice's Girl says:

    Kit Harington…..He played Jon Snow’s DEAD body very well LOL.
    But seriously my picks are
    Rami Malek….which I hope he does so he can win.
    Freddie Highmore….He’s about to go full on PSYCHO on Bates Motel!

  8. Angela says:

    Highmore miraculously made us feel afraid for the serial killer even as he made us feel afraid of him.
    Mmhm. One minute I want to hug him, the next I’m sitting there watching him wield an ax and holding my breath in fear.
    And god, yes, the way he can shift into “Mother” mode-and do it so subtly besides-is remarkable. It’s downright spooky the way he can mirror and channel Vera’s mannerisms and ways of speaking.

  9. Wouldn’t change any of these nominees!

  10. Amanda says:

    I agree with all even though I only watch two of the actors’ shows. There’s so much critic praise for them that it makes sense. Kyle Chandler and Sam Heughan has both been amazing this year. I would also say Grant Gustin, but the Emmys wouldn’t recognize it.

  11. JosiahBartlet4President says:

    My vote is for Kyle Chandler or Freddie Highmore.

  12. Jules says:

    Dominic West was great this season on “The Affair” as well. Really deserving list overall but I’d add him. I’m rooting for Rami Malek and Justin Theroux. They both really killed it.

  13. Spence says:

    Real quick- John was running for sheriff on Bloodline not mayor. But seriously, I was just saying he better be nominated for the scene where Diana confronts him about Danny in the end of the season. Stellar acting, yet again this season. As much as I love Kyle Chandler and Bloodline, I will riot if Freddie Highmore doesn’t WIN. Matthew Rhys and Rami Malek deserves noms as well!

  14. abz says:

    Justin Theroux for sure!!! The Leftovers actors have got to be nominated this year. Same goes for American Crime (in the Miniseries category). I don’t know if there is another show that has wrecked me emotionally as much as these two shows have. The performances were phenomenal.

    • Temperance says:

      I can’t evaluate Theroux because I couldn’t stand the dreadful The Leftovers. BUt I’ll throw in a nom for Rory Kinnear for The Creature in Penny Dreadful.

  15. MalsDoxy says:

    Can’t we go back and honor the excellent Timothy Olyphant for Justified?

  16. Barbara Llewellyn-Butts says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! for Sam Heughan!!! He is a superb actor and the heart of Outlander!

  17. RobTO says:

    You guys have legitimately snubbed House of Cards despite its stellar season. For me, best drama, lead actor and lead actress are all no brainer nominations for House of Cards, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright respectively.

  18. LJ Pierce says:

    #1 Sam Heughan in “Outlander”. His emotional intensity leaps off the screen causing you to feel what he feels. Sam has taken the character Jamie from an untried youth to a leader of men; while surviving torture, despair & loss. The Outlander books series has been around for 25 years & has millions of fans. Jamie Fraser is a beloved character who is well defined in the books, & yet Sam Heughan has managed to flesh him out & and give him even more depth. Immensely Emmy worthy.

  19. Et al. says:

    Freddie Highmore deserves an Emmy more than just about any actor in the last five years. He probably won’t even be nominated.

  20. Darlene says:

    Sam Heughan= woot woot!!!

  21. peegee says:

    Yeah, Jimmy

  22. Laura Markl says:

    I do not watch any shows that are nominated other than the relight shows any more. I will not waste time watching no matter who is nominated.

  23. Fogh says:

    What defines a lead actor when it comes to nominations to the category? The contract? The screen time or is it something the show itself determines?

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      The shows determine in which category they will submit an actor.

      • Fogh says:

        Thank you for the answer. Anyway of knowing what category Bob Morley (The100) is in? I would imagine he would be lead actor too.

  24. Guy says:

    If Matthew Rhys isn’t nominated this year……… like…………

  25. rowan77 says:

    I agree with your picks and your reasons.
    Small quibble: Rami Malek does not have “deep-set eyes.” He has the opposite. They’re protruding (like Christina Ricci’s eyes), and wide-set (like Oprah). Deep-set eyes means they are set back more in your head (think Taylor Swift).
    But the rest of it – dead on.

  26. Dennis says:

    Thank you for including Kyle Chandler, his performance in both seasons of Bloodline is the best acting I have ever seen in quite some time. He’s incredible!

  27. Liz says:

    Sam Heughan, definitely. I STILL don’t understand how he wasn’t nominated last year, along with Caitriona & Tobias. He was amazing this year yet again.

  28. Diane Riddell says:

    There’s only one for me and that’s Sam Heughan he has made us sad , love and laugh he truly embodies Jamie Fraser

  29. Broadwayfan says:

    You don’t have James Spader, from THE BLACKLIST, in this group. Obviously you aren’t paying attention.
    I love Kyle Chandler, he’s wonderful too.

  30. Couch Mom says:

    All great choices. My picks would be Rami Malek and Sam Heughan. Both were awesome.

  31. No Banshee love? I would say Antony Starr deserves a nod, but nobody deserves to win more than Freddie Highmore.

  32. KenWins says:

    Bob Odenkirk! Thats the only one I care about

  33. MRD says:

    Agree with all, but would swap out Aden Young from Rectify with Odenkirk who was very good but Michael McKean stole the show and should get a supporting acting nomination over Banks this year. Theroux, Highmore and Heughan were amazing.

  34. Lee Pace in HALT AND CATCH FIRE

    • drhenning says:

      Interesting you mention that show.. I was watching The Martian over the weekend on HBO and there was Cameron (MacKenzie Davis) as a techy… Season 2 was so good and I really appreciated getting a third season to see where it goes… Hope they don’t change the music..

  35. Miranda says:

    The Emmys can fill the ballot with whoever they like as long as it includes MATTHEW RHYS and JUSTIN THEROUX.

  36. Patricia McMahon says:

    James Spader for Blacklist. No one can compare to the depth and complexity he brings to his character week after week. Always above expectations.

  37. Sandi says:

    It has to be Cillian Murphy if Peaky Blinders on Netflix. Best show on TV

  38. Christina says:

    Sam Heughan hands down is most deserving of an Emmy for his amazing performance in Outlander!

  39. Sam Heughan ALL the way!

  40. I’d love to see Peter Capaldi for his fine work this year on Doctor Who. Especially his monologue in the Zygon Inversion.