One of the biggest surprises on Emmy nomination morning was John Leguizamo‘s bid for Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor for “Waco.” It’s his first recognition from the television academy since he won Best Variety Performer for his Spike Lee-directed one-man show “Freak” in 1999, for which he was also up for Best Variety Special. But can he win?
Leguizamo submitted the second episode of “Waco” to Emmy voters for consideration. In “The Stranger Across the Street,” undercover ATF agent Jacob Vasquez (Leguizamo) poses as a rancher and befriends Branch Davidians leader David Koresh (Taylor Kitsch) in order to investigate their secret weapons stockpile. But much to his surprise he finds himself liking the members and considers them to be a peaceful group. However, despite his best efforts to blend in, Vasquez’s cover is eventually blown, leading to the deadly 51-day standoff between the FBI, the ATF, and Koresh’s religious sect.
Will Leguizamo prevail for this episode? Let’s dive into the pros and cons:
“Waco” examines the standoff from both sides, dealing honestly with the mistakes made by the major players that led to the deaths of 76 people, many of them children. Leguizamo’s character, a composite of real-life agents, represents both the good intentions and terrible lapses in judgement that led to the tragedy. Voters may appreciate the actor’s ability to create such a multi-layered, conflicted individual.
Leguizamo is a veteran of both the big and small screen going back more than 30 years. He earned enough admiration from his colleagues throughout his career to get the nomination, so perhaps he has enough to win.
The three nominees from “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” — Ricky Martin, Edgar Ramírez, and Finn Wittrock — could split the vote, allowing Leguizamo, Jeff Daniels (“Godless”), Brandon Victor Dixon (“Jesus Christ Superstar”) or Michael Stuhlbarg (“The Looming Tower”) to prevail.
The nomination for Leguizamo is “Waco’s” sole representation in the top Emmy categories. It picked up two additional bids for its sound mixing and sound editing, but that’s it. This could leave Leguizamo at a disadvantage against contenders from programs that had a lot more support overall from the TV academy, especially Best Limited Series nominees “Versace” and “Godless,” and Best Variety Special (Live) winner “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Leguizamo disappears half-way through the show’s six-episode run. If voters watch the entire series, they may consider his role too small to reward.
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