Jonathan Banks has earned three Emmy nominations for Best Drama Supporting Actor, all for different shows, but this year he's forecast to win for the first time. Our exclusive Gold Derby odds have him out front at 8/15 to prevail for the first season of AMC's "Better Call Saul."
Banks first competed for this award in 1989 for playing Frank McPike in "Wiseguy," but lost to Larry Drake ("L.A. Law"). It took almost a quarter century for him to return: he was next nominated in 2013 for playing Mike Ehrmantraut in "Breaking Bad," but that time the award went to Bobby Cannavale ("Boardwalk Empire").
Banks is back as Mike in "Saul," which was spun off from "Breaking Bad" earlier this year. He submitted the episode "Five-O," which is also nominated for Best Drama Writing. In it, we learn Mike's tragic history as a Philadelphia police officer who killed two corrupt cops in revenge after they murdered his son.
He'll have to get past this category's only previous winner, Peter Dinklage, who has earned five straight nominations as Tyrion Lannister in HBO's fantasy epic "Game of Thrones." He won on his first try in 2011 and ranks second with 11/2 odds to win again this year. "Thrones" has more overall support than any other program at the Emmys, with 24 total nominations (it won eight of those at Creative Arts), which could translate to extra support for Dinklage. He submitted the episode "Hardhome," in which he meets Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) for the first time and advises her on how she might conquer and rule a kingdom.
Ranked third with 10/1 odds is first-time nominee Ben Mendelsohn. They Australian actor stars in "Bloodline" as Danny, the black sheep of the Rayburn family who returns home to the Florida Keys and entangles his family in a drug operation. He submitted "Episode 12" to Emmy judges. In it, his conflict with his brother John (Kyle Chandler, who submitted the same episode in the Drama Actor race) comes to a head during a climactic confrontation on the beach.
Michael Kelly ("House of Cards") is also a first-time nominee. He gets 14/1 odds to prevail as ruthless political fixer Doug Stamper. "House of Cards" has five acting nominations, more than any other drama this year, which indicates strong support from that branch of the TV academy. That support has already paid off with a Drama Guest Actor win for Reg E. Cathey at the Creative Arts Awards on Saturday night. Kelly submitted "Chapter 27," the third season premiere, in which Doug struggles with his sobriety while fighting to recover from a severe beating in the woods.
Alan Cumming ("The Good Wife") trails with 50/1 odds. This is his third nomination for playing political strategist Eli Gold in the CBS legal drama. He was first nominated for Best Drama Guest Actor in 2010 (losing to John Lithgow in "Dexter"), and then graduated to the Drama Supporting Actor contest in 2011 (that award went to Dinklage). This is his first nomination in four years; he has yet to win. He submitted the episode "Undisclosed Recipients," in which Eli schools Alicia (Julianna Margulies) on how to handle demanding campaign donors after she wins her election for state's attorney.
Ranked last in the category with 100/1 odds is Jim Carter ("Downton Abbey"), nominated for the fourth year in a row as faithful butler Charles Carlson. He submitted "Episode 5.09," the "Moorland Holiday" Christmas special, in which Carson buys a bed-and-breakfast and proposes marriage to Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan), which she accepts. Can he pull off a surprise victory?
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Photo: Jonathan Banks in "Better Call Saul." Credit: AMC