With eight wins in the Best Actor category, Anthony Geary is already the most awarded performer in Daytime Emmy history for playing Luke Spencer in “General Hospital,” a role he left last year. But does Geary have the goods to bring home that ninth trophy to tie him with all-time Emmy record holder Cloris Leachman?
As it has done since 2013, the television academy has released the reels submitted to judges in the acting categories at this year’s awards for viewers to watch and evaluate online. But the winners were already decided by the time the nominations were announced; these performance reels were evaluated during the pre-nominations round, and the nominees and winners were decided by that vote.
Below is a recap of all of the nominee submissions in the Best Actor race, as well as an analysis of their performances in relation to range, sympathy and impact – the key components of a winning submission. And make sure to read my analyses of the races for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.
Tyler Christopher, “General Hospital”
Submission Length: 13:24
Synopsis: Nikolas Cassadine (Christopher) waits anxiously for news of his son, Spencer, who has been severely burned in a tragic accident. As he waits, he expresses his fear and grief, and questions whether he did enough to protect his son. Later, he tearfully promises to never leave his son’s side.
Analysis: Tyler Christopher has been nominated three times before – once as Younger Actor and twice in the Supporting category – but this is his first nomination in the Lead Actor contest, and he submitted a hell of an episode, full of sympathy and impact as a father scared to death for his child.
Christopher is dynamite in his reel, conveying his character’s fear and sadness without resorting to histrionics. He also gets to show emotional range as Nikolas angrily confronts one of Spencer’s doctors, contrasted with some nice tender moments by his son’s bedside. In-between, Christopher hits all the right notes as Nikolas tries to avoid thinking about his son’s fear and pain.
The only drawback Christopher faces is that his reel is less dynamic towards the end, and doesn’t end with the same power as some of the other nominees. But the majority of the reel is so good that it may be enough to bring him his first Emmy.
Anthony Geary, “General Hospital”
Submission Length: 19:44
Synopsis: Returning to his childhood home, Luke Spencer (Geary) relives the trauma of his childhood in flashbacks showing his abusive, alcoholic father Tim (also played by Geary). As Luke’s memories unfold before him, he realizes that during one of his father’s drunken tirades, Luke accidentally killed his mother, then killed his father in a moment of rage.
Analysis: With the longest reel in the category, Geary’s submission is essentially a one-man show in the best sense. Because he plays both Luke and Luke’s father, we get to see plenty of range, both in Luke’s struggle to remember his past, and Tim’s drunken, abusive rants. The reel builds to a climax as Luke remembers killing his mother, and ends with a ton of sympathy and impact as a broken Luke collapses, sobbing.
Geary is an Emmy darling, and he sure knows what Emmy voters want: in addition to the sympathy, impact and range he delivers, his reel also has two factors that regularly hit the Emmy voter sweet spot: dual roles, which helped Geary win last year, and alcoholism. On paper, it seems like there’s no way Geary can lose.
Ironically, Geary’s biggest obstacle might be Geary himself. His exit from the show came with controversy, particularly after he gave several interviews in which he made some less-than-flattering comments about the show, the producers, the writers and the industry as a whole, which might cost him some good will among voters. And with eight wins already, a record that is unlikely to be broken, voters may feel Geary has already been duly rewarded.
Justin Hartley, “The Young and the Restless”
Submission Length: 15:44
Synopsis: Adam Newman (Hartley), who has been posing as a man named Gabe, inadvertently reveals his true identity to his former wife Chelsea, who believed him to be dead. Adam begs Chelsea to keep his secret so he can avoid prosecution for his past deeds.
Analysis: Hartley, who took over the role of Adam from previous Best Actor nominee Michael Muhney, is effective in conveying Adam’s desperation to stay out of prison and keep his family together. But there’s not a lot of range to the performance; Hartley delivers exposition and pleads with Chelsea for the entirety of the reel. More significantly, much of the emotional impact and sympathy in the episode come from Hartley’s co-star, Melissa Claire Egan, which could hurt Hartley’s chances.
Christian LeBlanc, “The Young and the Restless”
Submission Length: 8:51
Synopsis: Michael Baldwin (LeBlanc) struggles with the knowledge that his cancer treatments might lead to impotence, but after arguing with his wife he reluctantly agrees to begin treatment. Later, Michael confides in a prostitute about his fear of not being the kind of husband that his wife deserves.
Analysis: LeBlanc, a three-time winner in this category, has a lot of sympathy in this reel as his character struggles with both his mortality and his manhood. His scenes with the prostitute are emotional yet understated, as Michael tearfully proclaims his love for his wife and his fears of being less of a husband due to his prognosis. It’s a tender and emotional scene, and LeBlanc plays it quite beautifully.
The problem is that the scene overall might be too understated for Emmy voters given the showier and more dynamic submissions of some of the other nominees. Also, the reel comprises scenes from two episodes that aired four months apart, which feels a bit disjointed and might confuse some voters.
Kristoff St. John, “The Young and the Restless”
Submission Length: 5:58
Synopsis: In the first half of the reel, Neil Winters (St. John) angrily confronts his wife and son after finding out that they have been carrying on an affair. Later, Neil rejects his son’s attempts to reconcile and turns to alcohol to cope.
Analysis: St. John, who is celebrating his 25th year on “Y&R,” has won Emmys for Younger Actor and Supporting Actor, but this is his first nomination in the Lead category. A win here would make him only the second performer to win in all three acting races–the first being his former “Y&R” colleague, Heather Tom.
But St. John’s reel is less than six minutes – the shortest submission in the category. And although St. John is very good conveying Neil’s anger, it’s really his only emotion in the whole reel; he lacks the range of emotions we see in his rivals’ submissions. That coupled with the over-the-top story – “My wife slept with my son while I was stricken with blindness, so I’ll fall off the wagon” – makes St. John an underdog here.
Conclusion: Based on the reels alone, this is Geary’s Emmy to lose, but he’s not a lock. His outspokenness may have alienated many in the industry, and it is not unreasonable to suspect that it may have cost him in the voting. That along with voter fatigue may open the door for Tyler Christopher to take his first trophy. In either case, don’t be surprised to see a Port Charles resident standing onstage with an Emmy on May 1.