Could Nikolaj Coster-Waldau de-‘Throne’ Peter Dinklage at Emmys?

If the Emmys took place in Westeros, two stars of “Game of Thrones” — Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage — would be at each others’ throats for the title of Drama Supporting Actor.

In such a tight Emmy race this year, there may not be room on the ballot for both of them, so who gets the nomination?

After winning this category two years ago and being nominated last year, Dinklage is the obvious frontrunner to receive another nomination. But when the current third season is viewed as a whole, a case could be made for Coster-Waldau to overtake his co-star at the Emmys.

Emmy judges are suckers for villainous performances (see our photo gallery below), but what they love even more are villains who find redemption. Michael Emerson couldn’t win an Emmy for “Lost” until he finally submitted the episode “Dead is Dead” in which his character’s actions were redeemed in the eyes of the island’s mysterious smoke monster. Might a similar redemptive arc help Coster-Waldau on “Game of Thrones”?

The naysayers out there will say that Coster-Waldau won’t get a nomination because he’s already been snubbed twice for the role of Jaime Lannister. But as Coster-Waldau freely admitted to our own Matt Noble, he knew when he signed onto the project that his character wouldn’t be fully realized until the third year.

“They said from the word go, ‘You have some good bits in Season One. In Season Two you’re almost not there, it’s nothing.'” Coster-Waldau explained. “And then Season Three is the one that, if we get that far, that will be the big pay-off. And so I was hoping that we’d make it to Season Three!”

If Coster-Waldau gets a nomination in this tough race, it may be curtains for Dinklage. A similar fate happened to John Slattery just last year for “Mad Men.” He’d been nominated multiple times for his role, when all of a sudden Jared Harris (whose character had the better season) came along and stole his nomination. Like Coster-Waldau, Harris had been with his series for two seasons and was snubbed both times.

Gold Derby’s poll of experts, editors and users currently has Dinklage riding high in third place to receive a nomination, while Coster-Waldau rests down in our thirteenth position. Find out if Coster-Waldau can overcome his ranking when Emmy nominations are revealed July 18. The 65th Primetime Emmys will air on CBS Sept. 22

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