Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" Cannes Review: Denis Villeneuve's 'Sicario' Starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin And Benicio Del Toro Cannes Review: Denis Villeneuve's 'Sicario' Starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin And Benicio Del Toro George Miller Says He Courted Heath Ledger To Lead 'Mad Max' In 2006, Reveals Title For 'Fury Road' Sequel George Miller Says He Courted Heath Ledger To Lead 'Mad Max' In 2006, Reveals Title For 'Fury Road' Sequel Watch: Michael Fassbender Takes The Stage In First Trailer For 'Steve Jobs' Watch: Michael Fassbender Takes The Stage In First Trailer For 'Steve Jobs' George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

10 TV Stars Who Deserve Emmy Nominations (But Probably Won't Get Them)

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 5, 2012 at 12:02PM

We're still months and months away from the Oscars, but the other awards ceremony of the moving image is starting to sneak up; two weeks from today, the nominations for the Primetime Emmys, the biggest awards honoring television comedies, dramas, miniseries and movies, will be announced, ahead of the ceremony itself in September. Given the stars that the small screen attracts these days, it's just as glitzy as the Academy Awards, and given that we're living in what's generally deemed to be something of a golden age of television, there are more good shows on the air than could possibly be honored in a single ceremony. Someone's going to miss out.
26

Idris Elba
Idris Elba as John Luther in "Luther"
Of everyone on this list, Idris Elba probably has the best chance of actually making it to a nod; he was, after all, a nominee last year (a double nominee, in fact, also picking one up for his guest performance in "The Big C"), and won the Golden Globe in the category for his performance in the eligible series of "Luther" back in January. But he faces tough competition that hadn't yet been aired when the Globes were around: "Hemingway and Gellhorn," "Game Change" and "Hatfields and McCoys" all hit the TV dial in the last few months, and most prognosticators agree that their stars have a good chance of beating out Elba this time around. It doesn't help that season two of "Luther," in which Elba plays the titular, tortured, renegade London cop, felt a little inferior to the first. Telling a tighter, more focused, and shorter story, it suffered from the lack of Ruth Wilson to play off, and from slightly ridiculous plotlines -- identical LARPing twins! And while the show has always been a little ridiculous, it's eminently watchable thank to Elba. On the page, Luther isn't all that different from most leads in cop shows, but the actor plays him like he was the first performer ever to play a rule-breaking cop with a death wish. He's simply magnetic, and while Elba is always strong, "Luther" feels like something of a defining role for him, and the actor constantly found new notes to play across the season, whether in his paternal relationship with a girl he's rescued from a pornography ring, or his vulnerability and panic as he becomes more and more trapped by the gangsters after her. With "Prometheus" and next year's "Pacific Rim" looking to make him a bonafide big-screen star and "Luther" wrapping up after a third season (although with a possible movie on the way), it'd be a shame not to acknowledge him before he leaves TV for good, especially as he was never nominated for Stringer Bell on "The Wire."   

Jared Harris
Jared Harris as Lane Pryce in "Mad Men"
When terminally underrated character actor Jared Harris (the son of the late, great Richard Harris) arrived on "Mad Men" back in 2009, his character, Lane Pryce, felt like something of a caricature; a stiff, awkward Brit brought in by Sterling Cooper's owners, Putnam Powell & Lowe, to serve as their new financial officer. But the character grew more and more interesting over time, and the fifth season marked the best material that the actor had been given. Now living with his wife (Embeth Davidtz) in New York, Lane Pryce started the season in serious financial straits, and for all the other storylines that he went through -- falling in love with a girl in a photo in a lost wallet, gloriously beating Pete Campbell with his fists -- it was the inescapable black hole of his finances and his attempt to embezzle funds from the company to stave them off that ensnared him. Just when Lane thought that he was out of the worst, Don discovered the fraud, and demanded Lane's resignation, a situation made even worse by his unaware wife's kind-hearted purchase of a new Jaguar. It was in this episode, "Commissions and Fees," that Harris really hit his stride; the actor was magnificent, be it in his devestating breakdown when seeing his new car, or his dignified, blackly comic attempt at gassing himself in the car. And the discovery of his body, hanging on the back of his office door, was one of the most wrenching things we've ever seen on TV. In a year where Harris has made serious movie inroads (playing Moriarty in "Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows"), and did double duty by reprising his villain David Robert Jones on "Fringe," few actors deserve more recognition for their work.

Lena Headey
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in "Game of Thrones"
It's hard to convince newcomers to "Game of Thrones" that a series in the traditionally masculine fantasy, with as much gratuitous nudity as it has, can include some of the best written and performed female characters on television. "Game of Thrones" does indeed have them, but even despite Peter Dinklage's Emmy victory last year, we'd be very surprised if any of the show's ladies made their way into the final six this year. While our first choice for recognition might be Maisie Williams, who we've talked about her relatively recently, and though Michelle Fairley and Emilia Clarke are both deserving, it's Lena Headey who we think should have been more seriously considered this time around. On the big-screen, the British actress all too often got cast as the pretty face -- in "The Jungle Book," "300" and "The Brothers Grimm," among others -- but she's really shown her strengths as Cersei Lannister, the manipulative, Machiavellian Queen, and in the more recent second season, widow and semi-regent, of Westeros. Cersei has, almost from the off, been one of the most obviously unsympathetic characters on the show, but as time has gone on, Headey has brought all kinds of texture to the part; the incestuous, murderous villain who betrayed Ned Stark is also an exploited woman, married off to a man who never loved her, and a mother increasingly discovering that the son she sacrificed so much for is a monster beyond anything she could have imagined. And Headey has palpably relished the material, especially now she has Dinklage as an on-screen sparring partner; their scenes together were some of the finest on the show. Between those and Cersei's spectacular drunken meltdown during the battle of the Blackwater, she's quietly creating one of the most memorable and complex villains in television history.  

This article is related to: Television, Idris Elba, Jared Harris, Lena Headey, Kerry Washington, Features, Madeleine Stowe, Danny McBride, Danny Pudi, Jason Isaacs, Anna Chlumsky, The Amazing Race, Emmy Awards, TV News


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates