The Best Drama Actor Emmy race has 2 sets of co-stars for the first time in 22 years

Last year, “This Is Us” became the fifth show this century to produce two Best Drama Actor Emmy nominees with eventual winner Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia. Both are nominated again, but they are joined by another co-star duo, “Westworld”’s Ed Harris and Jeffrey Wright, marking the first time in 22 years – and just the third time overall — that the category fielded double nominees from two shows.

The first time there were dual duos was 1995, when “ER”’s Anthony Edwards and George Clooney, and “NYPD Blue”’s Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits lost to “Chicago Hope” star Mandy Patinkin. Both pairs were nominated the following year, alongside Andre Braugher (“Homicide: Life on the Street”), with Franz triumphing.

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That it didn’t happen before 1995 is not surprising. For many years, there were only three or four nominees in the category before it was standardized at five, and now six. Since 1996, there have been a handful of co-star nominees — Franz and Smits from 1997-99; “Law & Order”’s Jerry Orbach and Sam Waterston in 2000; “The West Wing”’s Rob Lowe and Martin Sheen in 2001; “Six Feet Under”’s Michael C. Hall and Peter Krause in 2002; and “True Detective”’s Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in 2014 — but never pairs from two shows.

Brown’s and Ventimiglia’s return nominations were expected — they were Nos. 1 and 2 in our odds all through Phase 1 — though with “This Is Us” underperforming in nominations, perhaps they are lucky to both make the cut again. Harris’ and Wright’s nominations were less assured. They entered in supporting last year and only Wright bagged a nomination. Wright was predicted to make the top six in lead, but Harris was way down in 14th place in our odds. Did voters really love Harris and Wright that much? Was it a mere name-check for movie star vet Harris? Hard to say, but “Westworld” only received one fewer nomination this year and 21 nominations is still a very large number.

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Brown, Ventimiglia, Harris and Wright are up against Jason Bateman (“Ozark”) and Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”), who now might have a better chance at pulling off a win, especially Rhys on the heels of the final season of a critically acclaimed show. Vote-splitting is more of a factor now with the new plurality voting system; if there isn’t mega passion behind an “obvious” co-star choice, someone else — as the only option for their show — could sneak away with it.

PREDICT the Emmy winners now; change them until September 17

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced on September 17. Be sure to also predict winners for the Creative Arts ceremonies slated for September 8 and 9. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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