Emmys: How Alexander Skarsgard (‘Big Little Lies’) could sneak off with an upset win despite villainous role

Could Alexander Skarsgard win Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor for his role as abusive husband Perry Wright in “Big Little Lies”? His on-screen wife Nicole Kidman is a strong contender to win for her leading role, but the audience doesn’t sympathize with Skarsgard’s character, for obvious reasons, and sympathy is an often important factor in winning an Emmy. However, some of the Experts we’ve polled for various media outlets think he’ll surprise us, and they might be right.

As of this writing four of our 20 Experts are predicting Skarsgard for the win: Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Ken Tucker (Yahoo) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed). That puts him behind the two top contenders from “Feud: Bette and Joan”: Stanley Tucci, who isn’t especially sympathetic either as ruthless studio head Jack Warner, and Alfred Molina, who has a more likable role as embattled director Robert Aldrich.

But in this case sympathy may not be the deciding factor. This category has awarded bad guys before, like sadistic doctor James Cromwell in “American Horror Story: Asylum” (2013), scoundrel Guy Pearce in “Mildred Pierce” (2011), and Brian Cox as a literal Nazi in “Nuremberg” (2001). And there are a couple other factors to watch out for that might work in Skarsgard’s favor.

First, the movie/miniseries categories have favored sweeps in the last two years since the TV academy opened up voting to all eligible branch members and not just the small, mercurial judging panels of years past. In 2015 Bill Murray won this category as part of an “Olive Kitteridge” sweep, and in 2016 the award went to Sterling K. Brown during the “People v. O.J. Simpson” sweep. So if “Big Little Lies” finds itself on a similar trajectory, Skarsgard could easily go along for the ride. Then again, that could also benefit Tucci or Molina because “Feud” also has the potential to generate that kind of across-the-board voter support.

The other factor is vote-splitting. Our Experts aren’t sure which of the two “Feud” actors has the advantage — nine pick Tucci and six pick Molina. Since the Emmys are now decided by a plurality vote where academy members check off one name instead of ranking them by preference, Skarsgard would need fewer votes to win if his “Feud” rivals divide support between them. In that case, of course, Skarsgard will also have to hope he isn’t joined in the category by his own co-star Adam Scott.

First things first, though, Skarsgard has to be nominated, as do Molina and Tucci and anyone else who hopes to upset the top contenders. We’ll get the lay of the land when nominations are announced tomorrow. Until then watch our recent interview with Skarsgard about his difficult role below.

Be sure to make your Emmy predictionsWeigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on July 13. Join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. And visit our home page for the latest in entertainment news.

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