The Leading Men of the Emmys

Some of the men below have been in acting for a long time and some are still riding the wave of their first break. One thing is for sure, actors are finding the acclaim on television that was once only reserved for film. The talent below is staggering, which maybe explains why TV is so great right now. Behold, this year’s Emmy nominees:

In a Drama

2645293-bryan-cranston-stars-as-walter-white-in-breaking-bad_super1. Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad

Cranston was unforgettable as goofy dad Hal in the sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, but it’s as Walter White–or Heisenburg–that he has really made his mark on television. The actor won the Emmy for a lead actor in a drama three consecutive times from 2009-2011. The final season of Breaking Bad premieres in just a few weeks on August 11.

“Maybe I’m too close to it, but I think these final eight episodes have a real chance of satisfying…not everybody—there’s no way to satisfy every last viewer—but the bulk of our viewers. I certainly hope so. They satisfy me, and that’s saying a lot” (GQ Magazine).

Robert-Earl-of-Grantham-Hugh-Bonneville-downton-abbey-15932405-570-3642. Hugh Bonneville as Robert in Downton Abbey

This is not Bonneville’s first time around at the Emmys either, as he was nominated for his role as the Earl of Grantham last year as well. You may also know him from the BBC mockumentary series, Twenty Twelve.

“I don’t think I’d have a huge amount in common with Robert if I met him at a dinner party. But I like the guy. I like the fact that while he does bluster and he’s pompous sometimes, and he makes mistakes, there’s a decency and a love for his family underneath it all” (Huffington Post).

Damian-Lewis-Homeland3. Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody in Homeland

Lewis has already earned an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Brody, an American prisoner of war turned terrorist turned patriot turned terrorist? We can never be sure with him. Season three of Homeland premieres this fall.

“You know what it’s like to feel anxious — it’s horrible feeling anxious. It’s stressful having that feeling, having butterflies in your stomach, even for a day, and you don’t sleep at night. Brody’s just like that all the time” (Huffington Post).

house_of_cards24. Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood in House of Cards

Spacey has electrified audiences on the big screen for decades, from his role as the serial killer in David Fincher’s Se7en to his endless obsession with his daughter’s underage friend in American Beauty. This year, Spacey brought his talent to the small screen (to Netflix, what’s more), and made history with a first show to ever be nominated without airing on regular television.

“The stigma that used to exist many years ago that actors from film don’t do television seems to have disappeared. That camera doesn’t know it’s a TV camera … or even a streaming camera. It’s just a camera” (Variety)

11055673-large5. Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men

Hamm got his big break when he landed the role of Don Draper six seasons ago and now he’s everywhere. He has been nominated for an Emmy for every single season of Mad Men and twice as a guest actor on 30 Rock. Aside from that, he’s a funny man too, having appeared multiple times on Saturday Night Live, in the film Bridesmaids, and he recently hosted (and killed at) the ESPYs.

“I think there are people who have fine careers doing the same thing over and over and over again, and there’s no judgment against that. But that’s not why I got into this business and that’s not what I want to do. I’ve been fortunate enough to have met a lot of people as this has gone on that have given me opportunities to do other things, whether it’s Lorne Michaels or Kristen Wiig or Tina Fey or whoever” (AMC).

daniels_hbo_6056. Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy in The Newsroom

This nomination comes to Daniels for his work on the first season of The Newsroom, which aired last summer. Currently, the second season is airing on HBO, and Daniels continues to breathe life into the Republican news anchor on a mission, a far cry from his original claim to fame as Harry in Dumb and Dumber.

“The most exciting thing for me was that I knew who he was, going in. When you go from movie to movie to movie, you’re creating different characters every time, and you’re discovering them each time. For all the actors, we made a lot of those discoveries on season one. We were winging it. … So season two really felt like I knew the guy. I owned him. It was a whole different way of walking into a scene and feeling like the character was very familiar” (CNN).

In a Comedy

jack1. Alec Baldwin and Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock

Baldwin has been a well known film actor since the late 80’s, but his performance as Jack has won him two Emmys, three Golden Globes, and seven SAG Awards. 30 Rock finished its run this winter, so it’s Baldwin’s last chance to bring home more hardware for playing Jack.

“Jack Donaghy is Lorne [MIchaels, creator of SNL], first and foremost. ‘What am I, a farmer?’ That is Lorne. I think he said that. Lorne’s got a tuxedo in the glove compartment of his car. Lorne is a big-ticket A-list New York water buffalo. He’s big on the Serengeti. Lorne is a person who seduces you into thinking that if you take his advice and play your cards right you’re going to end up with his life” (The New Yorker).

S4_Michael_(02)2. Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth in Arrested Development

Bateman won a Golden Globe when he played the role of Michael back when the series was on Fox. Netflix revived the cult favorite this year for a fourth season, bringing back the entire cast. You may also know Bateman for roles in films such as Juno, Up in the Air, Horrible Bosses, and Identity Thief.

“I try to perform my characters inside my skill set. Which means I try to keep them close to me. [Michael Bluth] is very much an exaggerated version of one of my sides. It’s very easy for me to be him. I know my abilities; I’m not Daniel Day-Lewis, who’s able to fully morph into different people” (The Telegraph).

779_2_0_prm-awardgen_1024x6403. Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc in Episodes

Famous for his role as Joey on the long-running sitcom, Friends, LeBlanc returned to the screen as himself in Episodes, a BBC/Showtime series about a British show being remade for American audiences. LeBlanc has already won a Golden Globe for his performance.

“What we tried to capture is the public’s perception of a celebrity. Namely, me. It’s not really me at all, but hopefully people will believe it’s me, if I’ve done my job well. It’s an exaggerated version of what people think the guy who plays Joey on Friends is like. That’s the best way to describe it” (GQ Magazine).

805_0_0_c-6781_1024x5124. Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan in House of Lies

In terms of commercial films, you may recognize Cheadle from the Ocean’s movies and Iron Man 2 and 3. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for his lead role in Hotel Rwanda in 2004. He already took home the Golden Globe earlier this year for his role as Marty Kaan.

“The show came out of a book [House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time] by Martin Kihn, which is where I first looked at how to approach the role. Then you kind of flesh it out the way you would for any kind of role, by researching people and reading the news” (Details).

louis-ck5. Louis C.K. as Louie in Louie

Louis C.K. has been doing standup for almost 30 years now, and it was his hilarious and darkly inappropriate routines that landed him the FX show, Louie. He writes, directs, edits, and stars as a fictionalized version of himself. He won an Emmy last year for writing on the show.

“Well, I was doing just my stand-up, and I was in L.A. and taking some meetings about doing a TV show, and FX approached me about doing a show cheaply and with a lot of freedom. So, we tried the pilot that way. I told them that, if they could just give me the money and let me try to do the pilot my way, it would be worth it. So, they gave me a very small amount of money, and I made a show with it that they liked. That was it. That was the model we’ve been working on, since then” (Collider).

SheldonCooper_BG6. Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory

Before landing the role of Sheldon in 2007, Parsons estimated that he auditioned for 15 to 30 pilots, but networks never picked up the shows he got cast in. At this point, The Big Bang Theory is the most watched sitcom on television, and much of that is credited to Parsons’ performance. In fact, he won the Emmy for it in 2010 and 2011.

“I think there is something I understand about [Sheldon’s] lack of understanding about what is it that other people want to hear. What is it that they want me to answer? … I think for Sheldon, it’s different. He’s more obtuse than I. He’s not even thinking that far into like ‘Oh dear, I don’t want to hurt their feelings.’ In fact that’s one of the keys to him as a character. He says things all the time that could hurt someone’s feelings. He doesn’t check it through a filter and go, ‘Oh, they’ll be fine with this.’ He skips that barrier completely. He just says it” (NPR).

Who do you think deserves the Emmy?

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