Anthony Hopkins first got his start on British television and won BAFTA Best TV Actor for “War and Peace” (1972). He’s also two-time Emmy winner for Best Limited Series/Movie Actor: “The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case” (1976) and “The Bunker” (1981). Hopkins returned to television this fall as Dr. Robert Ford, the puppet-master in HBO’s new prestige drama “Westworld.” An actor of his caliber on a TV series seems like a no-brainer for awards attention, but then Hopkins got snubbed by the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globes and SAG Awards (although he contends as part of the SAG ensemble). That got us to wonder, should Hopkins drop down to the supporting category at the Emmy Awards instead of continuing to campaign in the lead race? Below are the five reasons why I think he should go supporting.
1. Screen time.
When Hopkins contended for his now iconic lead performance as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) he had less screen time than his co-star Jodie Foster. This could’ve allowed him to contend in the supporting race, but the impact of his performance won him Best Actor at the Oscars. “Westworld,” however, is a 10-episode serial drama and while Hopkins is very impactful in the few scenes he has per episode, he doesn’t appear in enough to warrant being in the lead category. Compare Hopkins to reigning Emmy champ Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot”) and nominees Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”), Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), Kyle Chandler (“Bloodline”), Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) and Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”). While none have the body of work Hopkins does, there is no questioning what category these six leading men should compete in.
2. The other men of ‘Westworld’ haven’t fared so well.
“Westworld” has an impressive cast of supporting actors including: Jeffrey Wright, a past Emmy winner for “Angels in America” in 2004; Ed Harris, a two-time Emmy nominee for “Empire Falls” in 2005 and “Game Change” in 2012; and film star James Marsden. But since none received Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe or SAG Award nominations for “Westworld,” Hopkins probably wouldn’t be hurting his co-stars’ chances of earning Emmy noms.
3. It’s good enough for the Dame.
Hopkins shouldn’t think of this as a demotion, more of ensuring himself the recognition he deserves. Dame Maggie Smith has won three Supporting Actress Emmys for her work on “Downton Abbey” (2011-2012 and 2016). If it’s okay for the Dame, also a former Best Actress Limited Series/Movie Emmy winner (“My House in Umbria,” 2003) to move down to supporting, it’s all right for Hopkins. But please do come to the ceremony!
4. This is his only chance.
SPOILER ALERT! Hopkins was featured heavily in the season finale (which should be his Emmy episode submission) as his character ended up being shot in the head by Evan Rachel Wood’s character, Dolores. Unless there is a major twist in store for Dr. Ford, Hopkins will only get one chance at recognition. In the supporting race, finishing a one-off season run where your character ends up dead can be a winning strategy, as Zeljko Ivanek (“Damages,” 2008), Margo Martindale (“Justified,” 2011) and Bobby Cannavale (“Boardwalk Empire,” 2013) all proved victorious.
5. The Emmy showdown.
This one might not benefit Hopkins but would make us award pundits and prognosticators giddy. If Hopkins did submit in the supporting race he will likely face off against one of television’s most beloved stars, John Lithgow (“The Crown”). Lithgow is a five-time Emmy winner: three for Best Comedy Actor (“3rd Rock from the Sun,” 1996-1997, 1999) and twice for Best Drama Guest Actor (“Amazing Stories” in 1986, “Dexter” in 2010). This match-up would rival the 2014 Best Drama Actor race that saw Bryan Cranston win Emmy #4 for the final season of “Breaking Bad” in one of the tightest races in recent years with Matthew McConaughey (“True Detective”), the recent Best Actor Oscar winner (“Dallas Buyers Club”). The Hopkins vs. Lithgow showdown could possibly be the most exciting race of the awards season.
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