Emmy Circuit: Can Any Newcomers Defeat Peter Dinklage in Drama Supporting Actor?


Welcome to the 2019 Emmy Circuit series, where we analyze and predict all your favorite TV series and their chances with the Television Academy (at least at this time of publishing).  The series examines the shows and performances about their awards potential, most notably the Emmy Awards. Emmy nomination voting opens June 10 and closes on June 24.  The official Emmy nominations will be announced on Tuesday, July 16 while the ceremony airs on FOX Sunday, Sept. 22. All Emmy pieces run with the following schedule: Mondays (Dramas), Tuesdays (Network Spotlight), Wednesdays (Comedies), Thursdays (Network Spotlight), Fridays (Limited Series, Variety Series, Below-the Lines).


Can Peter Dinklage break records this Emmy season? The “Game of Thrones” actor currently sports three Emmy wins out of seven nominations. This ties him up with Art Carney, Don Knotts and Aaron Paul for most wins in the Drama Supporting Actor category. If he wins for “Game of Thrones” final season, he would pass all three of them to be the record holder.

In terms of competition, Dinklage is the reigning champ. Four of the six nominees from the previous year are not eligible for Emmys this year. Only fellow “Game of Thrones” co-star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau could earn a consecutive nomination. Will he be able to dethrone Dinklage? Are there any new freshman shows that can come out of the gate strong? The Drama Supporting Actor race is also famous for out-of-nowhere surprises (see Ben Mandelsohn for “Bloodline” and Bobby Cannavale for “Boardwalk Empire”). Will we see another crazy surprise winner this year?


Few pop culture moments were bigger than the final season of “Game of Thrones,” for better or worse. While the season started off strong, opinions took a turn for the worse in the final few episodes. Though Dinklage is a fan and awards favorite, Tyrion’s speeches and actions sparked much of the show’s criticism. This may benefit fellow “Thrones” actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. His performance as Jamie this season was among some of his best work, particularly in Episode 2 (“A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”). Alfie Allen, Pilou Asbaek and Richard Dormer were also submitted this year.

It’s easy to see why the final season of “House of Cards” received much less fanfare than “Game of Thrones.” The one-time Emmy favorite had grown long-in-the-tooth, even before Kevin Spacey’s child molestation accusations. The final season removes Spacey from the equation, making Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood the President. Still, the show went out with a whimper, rather than a bang. Even as the show saw lower Emmy nomination hauls each year, Michael Kelly continued to hang on in the supporting race. He was nominated three consecutive times from 2015 – 2017. The show was not eligible last year, so he still hasn’t been snubbed since he received his first nomination in 2015. Could he return again, or even contend for the win, in the show’s final year? Former Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear, a newcomer to “House of Cards,” also submits himself for the final season.


With so many open slots this year, supporting actors from new shows look to benefit, such as “Homecoming” on Amazon Prime. The adaptation of the hit podcast boasts a strong supporting cast. Bobby Cannavale gives a big, loud and showy performance as Colin Belfast, the suspicious supervisor of Heidi (Julia Roberts). Cannavale has already won two Emmys (“Will and Grace” in 2005, “Boardwalk Empire” in 2013). Voters clearly love Cannavale. If “Game of Thrones” backlash hits hard, Cannavale could win Emmy number three. He’d better look out for co-star Shea Whigham, who also turns in a great performance as an investigator from the Department of Defense. The character actor has never received an Emmy nomination before, but did show up over Cannavale at the Critics Choice Awards.

“Homecoming” isn’t the only new show hoping for multiple Emmy nominations. HBO’s “Succession” features a large ensemble cast looking for nominations. On the surface, Kieran Culkin’s boisterous performance as Roman Roy, the foul-mouthed son of Brian Cox’s patriarch in crisis, looks to be perfect Emmy fodder. The actor was the only eligible drama supporting actor contender nominated at the Golden Globes. However, the Critics Choice Awards went a different direction. They nominated Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Tom Wamsgans, a high level employee that marries into the Roy family and becomes similarly consumed with power. Will both actors receive nominations, or will they cancel each other out?

Another Critics Choice Award nominee looking for Emmy love is Richard Cabral from “Mayans M.C.,” FX’s new show. The actor previously earned an Emmy nomination for “American Crime” in 2015. Though the show may not be as big of an Emmy player as other new shows, Cabral could rally around the pockets of support for a nomination.

FX’s other new show, “Pose,” also wants to get as many of their supporting men in as possible. Ryan Jamaal Swain, Evan Peters, James Van Der Beek, Dylllón Burnside and Angel Bismark Curiel are all submitted in this category. Unfortunately, none of these performances stand out as the clear best of the bunch. This means they might doom each other’s chances. Still, “Pose” has a much better shot in each of the remaining acting categories.


With so many vacancies this year, we could see some past nominees return. Technically, the “Better Call Saul” actors never left. The show did not air any new episodes during last year’s eligibility period. “Breaking Bad” favorite Jonathan Banks has reaped Emmy nominations for all three of the previous “Better Call Saul” seasons. It stands to reason that he will make it back in to the lineup this year. He’s not the only former nominee who could return. Giancarlo Esposito struck fear in the hearts of millions during “Breaking Bad’s” original run, earning him an Emmy nomination in 2012. The actor has yet to receive a nomination for “Better Call Saul.” The show has increased its nomination tally in 2017, breaking in to both Directing and Writing. If it continues to increase in nominations, Esposito could be back.

The only other previous nominee who could return would be Jon Voight in “Ray Donovan” on Showtime. That show has seen nominations decline over the past couple years. In addition, Voight has become a politically controversial celebrity, which could hurt his nomination prospects.


The Critics Choice Awards highlighted some performances that still haven’t gotten Emmy love, such as Asia Kate Dillon (“Billions”), Justin Hartley (“This Is Us”) and Richard Schiff (“The Good Doctor”). Dillon could become the first non-binary actor to receive an Emmy nomination. However, “Billions” has not received a single Emmy nomination in its first three seasons.

Meanwhile, Justin Hartley is a part of one of the biggest Emmy players of the past couple years. “This Is Us” has seen many actors nominated, including two of Hartley’s on-screen siblings (Sterling K. Brown and Chrissy Metz). Many cite Hartley as one of the most improved actors over the show’s three seasons. Will this be the year he finally makes it in?

Richard Schiff has been an Emmy favorite since the days of “The West Wing.” He earned an Emmy win for the first season of the show in 2000, followed by two consecutive nominations. Though “The Good Doctor” has been doing well in the ratings, it hasn’t been doing as well on the awards front. With little Emmy traction in other categories, Schiff’s chances look limited.

Both “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” and “The Sinner” were moved from limited series to drama this year. “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” was usually a force to be reckoned with in the acting categories, primarily actress and supporting actress. Still, FX has submitted Billy Eichner, Cheyenne Jackson, Evan Peters and Billy Porter in this category. Peters and Porter both stand a better chance in “Pose” (though Porter is in lead for that show). Likewise, Tracy Letts is also submitted in the Supporting Actor category for “The Sinner.” Last year, Jessica Biel received a nomination for the show. It remains to be seen if it will have similar luck up against the drama contenders.


  1. Peter Dinklage – “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
  2. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau – “Game of Thrones” (HBO)
  3. Jonathan Banks – “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
  4. Bobby Cannavale – “Homecoming” (Amazon Prime)
  5. Kieran Culkin – “Succession” (HBO)
  6. Michael Kelly – “House of Cards” (Netflix)

What do you think will contend for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series this year? Let us know in the comments below.