It is common at the SAG Awards for an actor on either the television or film side to score multiple nominations. This year alone 21 performers, including both film and TV, are nominated for two or more awards by virtue of individual and ensemble nominations. But Sterling K. Brown is the only SAG Award nominee this year to score double noms for two individual performances: Best TV Drama Actor for “This Is Us” and Best TV Movie/Mini Actor for “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
Few people had a better year in television. Brown, after spending over a decade in guest roles, finally got his big break in “O.J. Simpson” playing prosecutor Christopher Darden, who struggles with the case’s thorny racial issues and tries to bring the title character to justice. Brown parlayed this into an Emmy for Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor over his more famous co-stars John Travolta and David Schwimmer. He also won a Critics’ Choice Award and earned a Golden Globe nomination. Then Brown continued his breakthrough year with his co-starring role on NBC’s surprise hit family drama “This is Us.” Now Brown looks to make history as the first performer to win two individual awards for TV in one year.
Only three other performers have achieved being nominated for two individual TV awards. First to attempt this was Sally Field, who scored nominations for Drama Actress for “ER” and Movie/Mini Actress for “David Copperfield” (2001), but she went home empty-handed. Next up was Sean Hayes, who was nominated for Comedy Actor for “Will & Grace” and Movie/Mini Actor for “Martin & Lewis” (2003), winning the former for the second time. The last to attempt this feat was Patricia Heaton, up for both Comedy Actress for “Everybody Loves Raymond” and Movie/Mini Actress for “Neil Simon’s The Goodbye Girl” (2005), but she was unable to translate these nominations into a win.
However, Brown would not be the first performer to win two individual SAG Awards overall for film and TV in the same night. Helen Mirren was the first to accomplish this in 2007, winning Film Actress for “The Queen” and TV Movie/Mini Actress for “Elizabeth I.” And Idris Elba did it last year, winning Film Supporting Actor for “Beasts of No Nation” and TV Movie/Mini Actor for “Luther.” But Brown would be the first to do so solely for TV work.
According to Gold Derby’s exclusive odds as of this writing in the Drama Actor race John Lithgow (“The Crown”) is expected to win with odds of 4/7. In second place is reigning Emmy champ Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) with odds of 4/1. Brown is currently within striking distance as he sits in third place with odds of 15/2. But Brown needs to watch his back as the defending two-time champ in this category, Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”), is right behind him with odds of 22/1, followed by Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) in fifth place with odds of 66/1. And if the talent in this category wasn’t daunting enough, it’s been eight years since an actor from one of the big four networks has won (Hugh Laurie for “House” in 2007 and 2009).
Currently in the TV Movie/Mini Actor category Brown sits in second place with odds of 5/1 behind his on-screen nemesis Courtney B. Vance who has leading odds of 2/5 for playing wily defense attorney Johnnie Cochran. But similar to the Drama Actor race, it’s not just Vance he needs to worry about but the actors close behind him. John Turturro (“The Night Of”) is within in striking distance with odds of 11/1. Then in fourth is Bryan Cranston (All the Way”), the only past SAG Award winner in this category, with odds of 50/1. And in last place is Turturro’s co-star Riz Ahmed with odds of 50/1. Brown is vulnerable not just because of how competitive this category is, but because of the chance he and Vance could cancel each other out as both give breakthrough performances and neither stands head and shoulders above the other.
Winning two would be historic for Brown, but even winning one would keep him fresh in mind as he turns his attention back to the Emmys later this season for “This is Us” in what could be a far more competitive category to break into: Best Drama Supporting Actor. With only two potential open slots — “Game of Thrones” won’t air any new episodes this season, so its two nominees from 2016 are out — it will be a highly competitive race just to garner a nomination.
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