Lead actors may get the most press when it comes to Emmy award season, but every year there are guest actors that steal scenes and become the driving force of a show. In the case of 2015’s Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series category, there are six actors that dove into gritty dramas and took the action for themselves.
Michael J. Fox makes 2015 his fourth consecutive year in the category for his smarmy turn as Louis Canning on CBS’ “The Good Wife.” He’s joined by fellow repeat nominees Reg E. Cathey for “House of Cards” and Beau Bridges for “Masters of Sex.” Alan Alda is making his first appearance in the category — though he’s one of the most Emmy-nominated actors of all time — for his part on “The Blacklist,” while “Homeland’s” F. Murray Abraham and “Orange Is the New Black’s” Pablo Schreiber get their first Emmy nods with the category.
Each nominee gave strong performances in their respective shows, but experience will most likely win out in the category. Schreiber gained a lot of attention for his pseudo-rape storyline in “OITNB” Season 2, but co-star Lorraine Toussaint had a much bigger impact on the show’s overall arc as Vee, making it hard to see Schreiber nabbing the trophy for this role.
The same goes for Cathey, who adds so much heart in the cold world of “House of Cards” as Frank’s (Kevin Spacey) closest thing to a friend, Freddy, but didn’t have enough time to make as much impact on the season as some of his other nominees did for their shows.
If a category newcomer were to take it, it would most likely be F. Murray Abraham, who had his hands full playing a double agent of sorts on “Homeland.” His complex performance not only had to carry plot but also keep you guessing which side of the fence he was really on. His role in “Homeland” Season 4 was much meatier than Bridges’ — who plays a closeted university provost — in “Masters of Sex” Season 2, which gives Abraham the upper hand over his Showtime counterpart.
The heavyweights in the category are of course Fox and Alda, who have both been Emmy favorites before when headlining their own shows. However, while Alda himself is an Emmy darling with 34 nominations and six previous wins, “The Blacklist” hasn’t made much of an impact on the Academy. Alda is the show’s first acting nod, while “The Good Wife” has been showered in Emmy gold.
Fox has also had the time as a recurring guest star for four seasons of “The Good Wife” to make his mark on the show — making it easier to pack a powerful punch with one episode rather than setting up plot at the same time. His submitted episode, “Red Zone,” pulled at heartstrings when it was revealed that Canning may have stopped playing games and will die of kidney failure before he and Alicia (Julianna Margulies) meet again for another tet-a-tet.
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