Who should be nominated for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series at the 2018 Primetime Emmy Awards? We are back with another edition of our annual CarterMatt Emmy Preview Series to answer this very question!
When it comes to this particular field, there are so many different potential nominees out there! What makes this category but fun and challenging is that there are hundreds of worthy actors you can look at from a wide array of different shows. In the end, how we’ve parsed through the potential nominees is by figuring out which ones gave the performances that we’re going to remember the most in years to come and who moved us the most on an emotional level. The goal of the CarterMatt Emmy Preview Series is to give you our picks, curated by our staff following some internal debate, and then give you a venue in which for you to do the same. This has been a lot of fun for us and the readers over the years and we’re happy to keep it going.
In addition to sharing both our dream nominees and some other likely contenders based on current industry projections, at the bottom of this article is a poll for you to vote for your own favorites! We will announce our reader picks on July 11, 2018, one day before the actual Emmy nominations are announced. Hopefully, this is a way to kick off the Emmy campaign period in a fun, super-engaging manner for everyone.
Voting Rules – Vote however many times you like! Voting is open between now and 1:00 p.m. Pacific time on July 11. By voting, you consent to have your vote tabulated in the final result. As a reminder, CarterMatt polls are simply for fun and to help aid in Emmy campaigns. Voting for the Emmys themselves is conducted by members of the Television Academy.
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Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – CarterMatt Wishlist
Alex Høgh Andersen, Vikings (History) – One of the biggest challenges that Andersen has with this character is trying to find a way to inject some humanity in a character who is so violent, ruthless, and often unforgiving with his actions. Ivar the Boneless is one of television’s cruelest characters and the lengths that he goes to pursue his agenda often know no bounds. This character, despite his capacity for violence, is no one-dimensional adversary. Much of it stems from having the world’s largest chip on his shoulder and a desire to prove to others that he is even more worthy than they are. Through the first half of season 5 we saw much of Ivar as a conqueror, a leader, and a strategy. At the center of it all was Andersen, who continues to bring everything that you could possibly want to such a challenging role.
Tobias Menzies, Outlander (Starz) – In the past, we’ve given a lot of praise to Tobias for the skill and the nuance it takes to play two different characters as memorable as Frank and Black Jack Randall. This season is a little bit different, given that Black Jack’s appearance was simply a small one within the premiere episode “The Battle Joined.” Yet, the Frank material this year was so visceral, so powerful, and so memorable that it worthy of recognition on its own merit. You see in Frank a man desperate to find some element of happiness and peace in his life; yet, he fails repeatedly to understand just how to get it. He hopes on some level for Claire to come around and when he doesn’t, he starts to move on. Both of these characters are flawed and deeply layered, and in their scenes together Menzies and Caitriona Balfe brought so much passion to every line and every movement. Menzies may be gone from Outlander (at least as a major part of the show), but we is not forgotten.
Sean Murray, NCIS (CBS) – If there is an unsung hero to NCIS year in and year out, it’s likely Sean Murray. This is a man who has played Timothy McGee with charm, humor, and steadfast determination throughout the past 15 seasons and given us what we would describe as a subtle and steady evolution. We’ve seen him struggle with demons and also issues of finding the right place for himself on the job; this season, we saw him fight for his survival in the premiere, become a father for the first time, take on significant threats, and then also come to terms with Abby’s exit. The relationship between Tim and Abby was one of the best on NCIS and Murray made the most out of every final moment he had with Pauley Perrette. In terms of content, performance, and relatability, this may be Sean’s best year on NCIS to date.
Chandler Riggs, The Walking Dead (AMC) – Were there episodes more meaningful on TV this past year than Riggs’ farewell to Carl Grimes? It’s hard to think of many, as this may be the greatest single-episode performance by any actor in the entire run of the show. It was gut-wrenching watching Carl work through his final moments on Earth, but to see him use that time to encourage a message of hope added so much more dimension and heart to the story. The departure of Chandler from the series is still a controversial move and will likely be for some time; yet, Riggs found a way to make lemonade out of the situation and deliver the sort of gripping performance that haunts you, one the makes you recognize just how good The Walking Dead can be when it really goes for the heart. He went out with a bang.
Richard Schiff, The Good Doctor (ABC) – Dr. Aaron Glassman was a fantastic role for Schiff from the start — a mentor and father figure for Dr. Shaun Murphy at the St. Bonaventure Hospital. He taught him tough lessons and, at times, battled with him over his trust. He was steadfast, caring, and determined — he knew that even when Shaun was angry with him, there was always a chance he could come around. Even when Shaun went missing, Dr. Glassman still tried to cover for him and make sure he was okay. Schiff towed the line perfectly between being a surrogate father and a concerned colleague, one who knew that Shaun was on thin ice. The cancer storyline at the end of season 1 brought tension to another level — especially the scenes with Freddie Highmore and the end of the episode when Shaun saw Aaron in a desperate, horrible state in which he was ready to accept that he was going to die. Schiff’s had a wonderful career, but this was still one of his strongest years to date.
Jesse Williams, Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) – In terms of the variety of the work he’s gotten a chance to do on the ABC series, this may very well be Williams’ finest work yet. There were intense, highly dramatic scenes with Sarah Drew when her crisis of faith was hitting a low point. Meanwhile, there were also topical and culturally relevant moments for Jackson this year as he challenged authority, took on widespread racism within the police force, and fought for underdogs who were not spoken for otherwise. Overall, this season really showcased everything that Williams can do as an actor to take on a character at a crossroads, someone who has great wealth and success but is still trying to discern precisely what happiness means. In some ways, that attempt to strive for something greater was an impetus for the hospital contest, one of the main stories in the second half of the season.
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (HBO) – So long as Game of Thrones is still on the air, we do think that Dinklage is going to be in contention for this role and with good reason. Tyrion Lannister is an iconic character and one of the reasons why the series works so well is Peter’s performance in this role — it’s funny at times, but painful at others and always grounded by the proper motivation.
Brendan Fraser, Trust (FX) – Fraser was one of our favorite actors through much of the time he was starring in movies, but moving into Trust he was able to show a completely new side and different sort of swagger. This was as brilliant a performance as we could’ve ever hoped for from him and we hope it’s a launching pad so that he appears in many more shows coming up.
Justin Hartley, This Is Us (NBC) – A magnificent performance this season, and hopefully, this will be a chance for him to get more recognition in line with some of his other co-stars. We would say that in general, “Number One” is one of the series’ greatest episodes — while you may be watching the descent of Kevin Pearson throughout, Hartley channels some of that pain with incredible power and heartache.
Matt Smith, The Crown (Netflix) – Playing a character as well known as Prince Philip is no easy challenge, especially when it comes to capturing many of the man’s less-favorable attributes. What Smith does in this role is incredibly nuanced and bold. He takes on every challenge both in capturing not only the Prince’s speech patterns, but also the way he carries himself and processes information given to him by others.