Viola Davis is one of the Screen Actors Guild Awards’ favorite performers — since 2008 she has amassed six nominations and four wins. In 2008 she was up for two awards for “Doubt”: Film Supporting Actress (losing to Kate Winslet for “The Reader”) and Film Ensemble (losing to “Slumdog Millionaire”). But since then she is undefeated. In 2011 she won twice for “The Help” — Best Film Actress and Best Film Ensemble — and then she won twice in a row as Best TV Drama Actress in 2014-2015 for “How to Get Away with Murder.” This year Davis is favored to win Film Supporting Actress for “Fences” and could hold onto Drama Actress on the TV side too for “HTGAWM,” which would make her one of the rare actors to win SAG Awards for both film and TV in the same year. Slam dunk, right?
If Davis should win an individual performance award for both film and TV in one night she will make history as the first American actor. British actress Helen Mirren was the first to accomplish this in 2006, winning Film Actress for “The Queen” and TV Movie/Mini Actress for “Elizabeth I.” Another Brit, Idris Elba, achieved this last year (2015), winning Film Supporting Actor for “Beasts of No Nation” and TV Movie/Mini Actor for “Luther.”
Elba, who was notoriously snubbed at the Oscars, had a showdown with fellow Brit in both categories: Mark Rylance was nominated for Film Supporting Actor for “Bridge of Spies” (he would go on to win the Oscar) and TV Movie/Mini Actor for “Wolf Hall.”
Before that, in 2014, Mark Ruffalo would compete in both TV and film, but he could only translate one of his two nominations into a win: taking home the prize for TV Movie/Mini Actor for “The Normal Heart” but coming up short in Film Supporting Actor for “Foxcatcher” (J.K. Simmons won for “Whiplash”).
Ruffalo, at least, was able to get revenge on Benedict Cumberbatch. A few months earlier Cumberbatch pulled off a huge Emmy upset for “Sherlock” against Ruffalo for Best Movie/Mini Actor, but when Cumberbatch also competed for both film and TV at the SAG Awards that same year would also come up short in both races. In addition to losing TV Movie/Mini Actor to Ruffalo, he was nommed for Film Actor for “The Imitation Game” and was bested by Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”).
Working in both television and film has become the norm, but before such crossovers were common, Helen Hunt won Film Actress for “As Good As It Gets” and was nominated for TV Comedy Actress for “Mad About You” (Julia Louis-Dreyfus won for “Seinfeld”) in 1997. Then in 2005 the reverse happened to Felicity Huffman: she fell short for Film Actress for “Transamerica” (Reese Witherspoon won for “Walk the Line”), but won TV Comedy Actress for “Desperate Housewives.” And in 2011 Glenn Close came up empty for both Film Actress for “Albert Nobbs” (that was the year Davis won for “The Help”) and in TV Drama Actress for “Damages” (Jessica Lange prevailed for “American Horror Story: Murder House”).
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