This story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Why is this year’s lead actor in a drama series Emmy race different than six of the last seven? Because Bryan Cranston is no longer in the running for Breaking Bad, which exhausted its Emmy eligibility last year.
Cranston’s absence opens up one of the category’s six slots for new blood. But who will be the beneficiaries of these vacancies and compete alongside — presumably — three perennial nominees: Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm, House of Cards‘ Kevin Spacey and The Newsroom‘s Jeff Daniels?
Better Call Saul‘s Bob Odenkirk, the Critics’ Choice winner in this category, could pick up where Cranston left off. Other new candidates include Bloodline‘s Kyle Chandler (who won an Emmy for the final season of Friday Night Lights in the only year Cranston was MIA due to lack of eligibility), The Affair‘s Dominic West (a Golden Globe nominee for the show), Empire‘s Terrence Howard (angling to pick up an Emmy nom to go with his 2006 Oscar nom) and The Knick‘s Clive Owen (himself a 2005 Oscar nominee). Of course, some spots could go to Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire) or Timothy Olyphant (Justified), who have been nominated before, or to Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) and Matthew Rhys (The Americans), who have yet to be recognized for their current shows.
No matter what, we’re in for a very different actor landscape this year, one that Hamm fans are hoping will be paved with gold for their guy.