Emmy Talk With JWalk: Lead Actor in a Drama Series Emmy Predictions


The Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series race has always been one of the more subdued categories of the Emmys – not offering anything too exciting, just status quo performances, and I expect this year to be the same. As a reminder, last year’s contenders were Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us), Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), Jason Bateman (Ozark) and last year’s winner Billy Porter (Pose).

Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) won’t be returning this year, and I have doubts if Ventimiglia returns to the race, even though I expect Brown to be a solid frontrunner to earn his fourth consecutive This Is Us nomination. I have no doubts Odenkirk and Bateman also earn nominations. I have high hopes that HBO’s Succession is going to make a big splash at the Emmys this year, and to do so it’s going to have to earn acting nominations in a few major categories. Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong are both competing in the lead actor category and I can’t bring myself to choose one of the other, so I’m predicting both.

There aren’t too many threats that could spoil the race. Westworld returns to the 2020 Emmy race, but I’ve stated before that I’m not sure how the Emmys are going to react to the series. Aaron Paul, who joined Westworld for its third season will also be competing in the lead actor category. Since he’s an Emmy darling with his four nominations and three wins for Breaking Bad, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility he makes a surprise appearance here. He’s also up for a nomination in the Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie category for the El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. 

Other possible threats include Steve Carell for The Morning Show, Ben Mendelsohn for The Outsider, Rami Malek for the final season of Mr. Robot, Tobias Menzies for The Crown and Justin Hartley, who is jumping from supporting to lead actor categories this year for This Is Us.

Here are my frontrunners for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series:

  • Billy Porter – Pose
  • Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us
  • Jason Bateman – Ozark
  • Brian Cox – Succession
  • Jeremy Strong – Succession
  • Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul

Here are my major threats for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series:

  • Aaron Paul – Westworld
  • Tobias Menzies – The Crown
  • Steve Carell – The Morning Show
  • Ben Mendelsohn – The Outsider
  • Justin Hartley – This Is Us
  • Rami Malek – Mr. Robot

Follow me on Twitter @TVTalkWithJWalk

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