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Jason Isaacs: ‘Awake’ and ‘Case Histories’ double Emmy chances

"Whenever I've won an award or been nominated for an award, I had known the day the ink was drying, and it's always script," says Jason Isaacs, crediting the quality of writing with his success as an actor. The actor has two chances for Emmy attention this year: he starred in the PBS miniseries "Case Histories" as well as NBC's drama "Awake."

"Case Histories," which premiered last June in the UK and in October in America, is based on detective novels by Kate Atkinson and follows the investigations of Jackson Brodie (Isaacs), a police inspector-turned-private eye. Though it will compete as a miniseries at the Emmys, the drama is set to return with more episodes this year.

"Awake," however, struggled to find an audience despite the praise of critics and was officially canceled by NBC on May 11; its last episode airs on May 24. On the series, Isaacs plays Det. Michael Britten, a Los Angeles homicide detective caught between two parallel worlds following a car accident: one in which his wife (Laura Allen) survived the accident, and one in which his son (Dylan Minnette) survived.

Though the series is built on a mind-bending concept, Isaacs's perspective on the story is more grounded. He says of his character, "There's a lot of people who are interested in the mythology of the show and would like to think there's some elaborate science-fiction world behind it, but the truth is this is a man in such strong denial that he can't let one of his relatives go."

Britten's increasing desperation manifests itself in stranger and stranger occurrences, from hallucinations – an imagined penguin played a featured role during a hostage crisis – to a psychological downward spiral in the series's last episodes: "By the end of it, like all good stories, it's just me against the world," says Isaacs. "I know that when we shot it the crew members kept coming up to me, right at the end, going, 'This is what the show could be' … Things get as hysterical and emotional as you're ever going to see on network television."

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UPLOADED May 16, 2012 8:59 am