John Lithgow is one of television’s most beloved stars and he’s at a career best as Winston Churchill in Netflix’s “The Crown.” The accolades have already started to accumulate: he won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Drama Supporting Actor, and shortly thereafter he scored a Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Supporting Actor and a SAG Award Nomination for Best TV Drama Actor and TV Drama Ensemble. If Lithgow should win TV Drama Actor, he will be the first in the 23-year history of the SAG Awards to win individual acting prizes for both comedy and drama.
Lithgow won Best TV Comedy Actor for “3rd Rock from the Sun” twice (1996-1997). He also contended three times as part of the ensemble (1996-1998). Lithgow was also previously nominated for Best TV Movie/Mini Actor (“Don Quixote,” 2000). Just by scoring a nomination for “The Crown” he has made history as the first actor or actress to be nominated in all of the television genres, excluding stunts.
James Spader and William Shatner were the first to attempt this for “Boston Legal,” which competed in both the comedy and drama categories over the course of its run. Spader and Shatner were first nominated for Best TV Comedy Actor in 2005 (they lost to Sean Hayes, “Will & Grace”). Spader was then nominated for Best TV Drama Actor the following two years (2006-2007), losing to Hugh Laurie (“House”) and then James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”). Spader was joined again by Shatner in 2008, when they both lost to Laurie.
David Duchovny was the first actor nominated across genres for two separate shows. He was nominated first for Best TV Drama Actor for “The X-Files” from 1995-1998, losing to Anthony Edwards (“ER” ), Dennis Franz (“NYPD Blue”) and Sam Waterston (“Law & Order”), in that order. A decade later Duchovny was nominated for Best TV Comedy Actor for “Californication” in 2008, losing to Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”). Duchovny still has never won a SAG Award.
Edie Falco is the only actress who has been nominated in both genres. She won Best TV Drama Actress for “The Sopranos” a record three times (1999, 2002, and 2007) and was nominated four more times during the show’s run. Later she was nominated for Best TV Comedy Actress for “Nurse Jackie” for seven straight years from 2009-2015, but she could never win for the laffer.
Before Lithgow can make history he’ll have to get past Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”), a nominee last year and the reigning Best Drama Actor Emmy winner (2016); Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) on his fourth nomination; Sterling K. Brown (“This is Us”), the only actor to receive two individual nominations (he’s also up for Best TV Movie/Mini Actor for “The People v. O.J. Simpson”); and Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”), the two-time defending champ in this category. But Best Drama Actor has never had a three-time consecutive champion, so we should be on the lookout for a new winner.
Being a first time nominee does not put Lithgow at a disadvantage as five individuals have won this category on their first attempt: the aforementioned Franz (“NYPD Blue,” 1994 and again in 1996); Edwards (“ER,” 1995 and again in 1997) and Gandolfini (“The Sopranos,” 1999 and again in 2002 and 2007), along with Jerry Orbach (“Law & Order,” posthumously in 2004) and Steve Buscemi (“Boardwalk Empire,” 2011 and again in 2012). But what might put Lithgow (plus Dinglake and Brown) at a disadvantage is that this category has never had a supporting player win.
According to Gold Derby’s exclusive early odds Lithgow is the frontrunner at odds of 3/2, and it’s no wonder. He is a respected member of the acting community and has the accolades to prove it. He’s a two-time Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee (“The World According to Garp” in 1982, “Terms of Endearment” in 1983). He’s also a five-time Emmy winner: three for Best Comedy Actor (“3rd Rock from the Sun,” 1996-1997, 1999) and twice for Best Drama Guest Actor (“Amazing Stories” in 1986, “Dexter” in 2010). At the Golden Globes, Lithgow has won twice: Best TV Comedy Actor (“3rd Rock from the Sun,” 1997) and Best TV Supporting Actor (“Dexter,” 2010) and scored two additional nominations for Best TV Comedy Actor (“3rd Rock from the Sun,” 1998-1999). He even won two Tony Awards for his work on stage: Best Featured Actor in a Play (“The Changing Room,” 1973) and Best Actor in a Musical (“Sweet Smell of Success,” 2002). All that makes Lithgow a formidable threat to make history.
Make your SAG picks and tell industry insiders which shows, films and performers you have out front to win on January 29. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before the show time. Be sure to make your predictions right here. You’ll compete for a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s nominees). Read our contest rules.