One of the things that we’ve learned over the years when it comes to the Emmys is rather simple: Unless you are Downton Abbey, Sherlock, or Luther, it’s hard to get awards consideration if you are a series filmed, produced, and aired first outside of America. This is a position that Poldark finds itself in routinely, especially when it comes to its series star in Aidan Turner.
Over the past several years we’ve come to know Turner exceptionally well as a performer through his take on Ross Poldark, a flawed man but one with a big heart. He wants the best for those around him, but unfortunately sometimes he does get in his own way. He’s a fighter, a lover, an adventurer, and someone who constantly seems to be reaching for something that is just beyond his outstretched arm.
In the hands of a lesser performer, maybe Ross wouldn’t be so multidimensional and compelling to watch. In the hands of Turner, he is nothing short of magnetic. He plays Ross with enough charm to constantly bring you into his world, but also with enough intentional clumsiness so that some of his flaws are still apparent. He brings passion to the part both physically and emotionally, taking on difficult action scenes while also concentrating on powerful conversations and heartfelt moments. He’s what you want in a leading man without falling into some of the same familiar trappings that you see time and time again.
One of Turner’s premiere performances came at the end of season 3, where you could see him exercise the perfect amount of restraint for a pivotal conversation between Ross and Demelza. You saw it play out two different ways — there was Ross pretending he could speak his mind to his wife regarding Elizabeth and the separate sort of love he has for her; then, there was also him making this conscious decision to hold back and not actually say the words. They may have been prevalent in his mind but, at the end of the day, they failed to parse his lips.
What Turner showed further in Poldark season 3 was the fullest extent to his vulnerability and how he could use everything from his eyes to just a single word of dialogue to carry some powerful emotion. He is the engine that drives Poldark and allows it to be one of the most gripping, engaging stories out there. He plays the part humble, but with extreme commitment and focus.
So why has he been ignored by the Emmys? – We do think that being on a British show hurts him, especially one that culturally in America hasn’t taken off in the same way as some of the others mentioned at the start of this article. Beyond just that, the Actor in a Drama Series field is extremely stacked with hundreds of different potential contenders out there. There hasn’t been a huge marketing push behind him, but to be fair, he is an actor on a publicly-funded network both in the UK and the US. They don’t have the same sort of budget to push for him that other networks do.
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