At last year’s Emmy Awards, breakout star Rami Malek triumphed in the Best Drama Actor race for his blistering performance on “Mr. Robot,” beating out the likes of legendary Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) and previous Emmy winner Kyle Chandler (“Bloodline”). This year, Malek has the potential to join an elite club of actors with consecutive wins in the category, should he pull off another Emmy victory.
In recent memory, four individuals have won consecutive Emmys in Best Drama Actor: Dennis Franz (“NYPD Blue”), James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”), James Spader (“The Practice” and “Boston Legal,” as the same character), and Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”). All told, only eight men (see list below) have claimed back-to-back trophies in the drama category since the 1960s, which would add a huge amount of gravitas to a second win for Malek this year.
Although “Mr. Robot” dedicated much of its second season to developing its supporting characters, Malek once again shined as the deeply troubled, brilliant vigilante hacker Elliot Alderson. One of Malek’s best episodes of the season, “init1.asec,” begins with an ominous flashback to the Halloween night when Elliot first embodied his Mr. Robot persona, and then centers on Elliot’s internal struggle to banish Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) from his mind by challenging him to a series of ill-fated chess matches. For Emmy voters either unfamiliar with “Mr. Robot” or not yet caught up on Season 2, “init1.asec” would make for a great reintroduction to Malek’s Elliot that features a great deal of character development and Malek’s signature voice-over speechifying.
While Malek has the material to potentially prevail again, a repeat win might not be an easy feat this year, in part because the second season of “Mr. Robot” aired so long ago. When Malek won his Emmy for the first season of “Mr. Robot,” the show’s second season was airing concurrently, ensuring that the series and Malek’s magnetic performance remained top of mind while voters completed their ballots. It’s been eight months since “Mr. Robot” has aired a new episode, though, and in that span of time a flurry of new series with strong Best Drama Actor contenders have bowed, including “This Is Us” (Sterling K. Brown), “Westworld” (Anthony Hopkins), “Goliath” (Billy Bob Thornton) and “American Gods” (Ricky Whittle).
Despite this slight disadvantage, the Emmy’s plurality vote system, in which each voter only selects one contender to vote for rather than ranking all six nominees in order of their preference, could favor Malek as he only needs roughly 17% of the vote in order to pull off another victory. Should Malek’s passionate fan base from last year remain in tact this go-around, another win seems well within his grasp.
Almost all of Gold Derby’s Emmy experts from major media outlets predict that Malek will earn a second Best Drama Actor nomination this year with Brown, Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”), Spacey and Thornton rounding out the category. Of these 16 experts, four predict that Malek will win again. Here are the eight prior Best Drama Actor champs who won consecutive trophies:
1962 & 1963 — E. G. Marshall (“The Defenders”)
1966, 1967 & 1968 — Bill Cosby (“I Spy”)
1981 & 1982 — Daniel J. Travanti (“Hill Street Blues”)
1985 & 1986 — William Daniels (“St. Elsewhere”)
1996 & 1997 — Dennis Franz (“NYPD Blue”) — Also won in 1994 & 1999
2000 & 2001 — James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”) — Also won in 2003
2004 & 2005 — James Spader (“The Practice” and “Boston Legal”) — Also won in 2007
2008, 2009 & 2010 — Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) — Also won in 2014
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