We’ve seen in the past how actors playing dual roles often have an advantage at the Emmys. They get to show off their dramatic range and give voters multiple performances for the price of one. This year, that factor might benefit Martin Freeman, but not the way it usually does. Instead of playing twins, clones, or multiple personalities, Freeman will get to show Emmy judges two completely separate performances: “Fargo,” for which he’s nominated for Best Movie/Mini Actor, and “Sherlock: His Last Vow,” for which he contends for Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor.
Freeman has played Dr. John Watson in PBS Masterpiece’s modern-day “Sherlock” for three seasons. It’s a heroic role, and in the nominated installment, “His Last Vow,” he copes with a shocking betrayal involving his wife, Mary (Amanda Abbington), while investigating a blackmail scheme.
His “Fargo” role is just the opposite. He plays Lester Nygaard, a Midwestern milquetoast who snaps, murders his wife, and ruthlessly covers it up. So not only does the British actor get to play an average man’s descent into villainy, but he also gets to adopt a North Dakota accent. An actor couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to demonstrate his range.
The great news for Freeman is that voters will be watching both performances. In the lead category, where he contends for “Fargo,” he’s up against “Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch, so Emmy judges who watch all the nominated material will get to see Freeman twice. If they’re impressed by his sheer output and versatility, that could give him a leg up on his competition.
He has the same advantage in the supporting category. He’s nominated there for “Sherlock,” but competes against “Fargo’s” Colin Hanks, so judges in that category will also get to see both of his performances.
But even if voters admire both roles, will they really let one performance sway their decision when considering another? There’s recent precedent for that, but it indicates that voters might be better at compartmentalizing than we think.
In 2011, Jane Lynch was aiming for her second consecutive Comedy Supporting Actress win for “Glee.” She submitted an impactful episode of her own – “Funeral,” in which her character mourned the death of her sister – and her rival nominee Kristen Wiig (“Saturday Night Live“) happened to submit an episode of the sketch comedy series guest-hosted by Lynch.
Getting a double dose of Lynch should have been irresistible to voters, but they went with Julie Bowen (“Modern Family“) instead. Perhaps they didn’t want to award Lynch for an “SNL” performance when considering her for “Glee.” Then again, Bowen had an advantage of her own: she was nominated against her co-star Sofia Vergara, so voters got to see her in two episode submissions too.
Martin Freeman is an underdog in both his Emmy races according to our predictions. He ranks third to win Best Movie/Mini Actor for “Fargo,” getting 25/1 odds. “Fargo” co-star Billy Bob Thornton is the current favorite to win that race, with Mark Ruffalo (“The Normal Heart“) a close second.
Freeman ranks second for Movie/Mini Supporting Actor for “Sherlock,” but Matt Bomer (“The Normal Heart”) is such a heavy favorite in that category that Freeman still only gets 25/1 odds.
Are we underestimating him? Predict Best Movie/Mini Actor below.