Will Ben Whishaw be nominated for Best Movie/Miniseries Actor at the Emmys for “London Spy“? He just earned a Best Drama Actor nomination from the BAFTA TV Awards for his performance as Danny, a working-class gay man who becomes embroiled in an international plot after falling in love with the enigmatic title character. That recognition from BAFTA is especially impressive as these kudos combine performances in series, miniseries and TV movies and only have four nominees per category.
At the BAFTAs, Whishaw faces off against a pair of previous Emmy-nominees — Idris Elba (“Luther“) and Mark Rylance (“Wolf Hall“) — as well as one-time “Boardwalk Empire” actor Stephen Graham for “This is England ’90.” Rylance earned his Emmy nomination for “Wolf Hall” last year, but Elba and Whishaw are both eligible at this year’s Emmy contest.
The BAFTAs don’t have a lot of overlap with the Emmys, due in part to the fact that many of the programs awarded by the British academy aren’t eligible for consideration by the American TV academy. However, in recent years they have had a few nominees in common. Benedict Cumberbatch earned three BAFTA bids and won an Emmy in 2014 for “Sherlock.” His co-star Martin Freeman won both a BAFTA and an Emmy, though in different years.
The 2012 telefilm “The Girl,” about the fraught relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren earned BAFTA and Emmy nominations for its actors Toby Jones and Imelda Stauanton. And In 2010, BAFTA agreed on two Emmy nominees for Best Actor — Kenneth Branagh in “Wallander” and Brendan Gleeson in “Into the Storm” — but they disagreed on the winner: Emmy picked Gleenson, but BAFTA went with Branagh.
So will Whishaw join that exclusive list of BAFTA contenders to repeat at the Emmys? He was on their radar once before, in the Emmy-winning “The Hour,” and he’s coming off a strong year that also included high-profile roles in “Suffragette,” “The Danish Girl,” “Spectre” and “The Lobster.” Also consider some of his strong critical notices for “London Spy”:
Matt Roush (TV Insider): “A tragic love story masquerading as a spy thriller, this five-part drama is a terrific tour de force for Ben Whishaw (‘Spectre,’ Broadway’s upcoming ‘The Crucible’ revival) as Danny, a romantically wishful, wistful and emotionally fragile drifter.”
Maureen Ryan (Variety): “This haunting drama becomes more captivating over the course of its five installments, thanks in large part to sensational performances from Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling.”
Robert Bianco (USA Today): “For now, Whishaw is probably best known for playing Q in Daniel Craig’s James Bond movies, but soon enough he should be best known for the exquisitely subtle, thoroughly heart-wrenching, multilayered performance he gives in ‘London Spy.'”
Jeff Jensen (Entertainment Weekly): “Played by ‘Spectre’s’ Ben Whishaw in a magnetic performance, Danny is a hard-partying misfit who falls for Alex (Edward Holcroft), a shy, closeted banker … Danny’s fraught investigation into Alex’s true identity — aided by lovelorn mentor Scottie (Jim Broadbent, superb) — doubles as a quest to shore up his own and turns this offbeat thriller, which also features a formidable Charlotte Rampling, into a riveting existential mystery.”
Mary McNamara (LA Times): “The increasing ubiquity of Whishaw (‘Spectre,’ ‘Suffragette,’ ‘The Danish Girl,’ ‘Paddington’ and ‘The Hour’ are just a few of his most recent credits) detracts not at all from the power of his performance. A rumpled pixie dream boy, Danny may slouch, sweat and swoon but he never surrenders.”
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Photo credit: BBC America