James Reynolds has played Abe Carver on NBC’s “Days of Our Lives” since 1981, and in the process earned nominations at the Daytime Emmys for Best Supporting Actor in 2004 and 2017. This year Reynolds is nominated for Best Actor, which is his first nomination in the lead category since 1991 when he contended for his role on the short-lived soap “Generations.” Will Reynolds win his first Emmy after almost four decades on daytime television? The winners will be announced on April 29, but they’ve already been decided in the drama acting categories by blue ribbon panels that viewed sample performance reels. Watch Reynolds’s submission above.
Reynolds’s reel surrounds the aftermath of a police shooting: Abe’s son Theo (Kyler Pettis) was shot by JJ Deveraux (Best Younger Actor nominee Casey Moss) even though he was unarmed. Abe is enraged, and he becomes even more furious when JJ explains that he didn’t recognize Theo because he was wearing a hoodie and had an object in his hand, which turned out to be a scanning device. Abe breaks down by Theo’s bedside, begging his son not to leave him.
Later JJ’s mother Jennifer (Melissa Reeves) begs Abe to show some compassion towards JJ, reminding Abe of the closeness between their two families. But Abe tells Jennifer that if his son dies their two families will never share anything again. Jennifer again begs for Abe’s forgiveness in another scene, and this time she reminds Abe how he felt when he was forgiven when he wrongfully shot someone in the line of duty. This finally convinces Abe to go to JJ and forgive him.
As the family is gathered around Theo’s bedside on Christmas Eve, Abe reminds his unconscious son of all the people who love him, and says that even if Theo never wakes up they will always love him. Then the family gets a Christmas miracle as Theo suddenly opens his eyes.
Will Reynolds win Best Actor with this performance against Michael Easton (“General Hospital”), Billy Miller (“GH”), John McCook (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), and Peter Bergman (“The Young and the Restless”)? Let’s look at the pros and cons of his submission.
Reynolds’s submission tells a complete story, which gives the actor a chance to take viewers through Abe’s entire emotional journey. We see Abe’s anger and fear as Theo struggles to survive, followed by his bitter resentment of Jennifer for her attempts to seek absolution for JJ.
The subject of unjust police shootings and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement makes this storyline extremely relevant, and seeing this issue from the perspective of the victim’s family makes Reynolds’s performance all the more resonant.
Having an emotional monologue at a hospital bedside is a common trope in soaps, but Reynolds’s performance in his scenes with Theo are so raw and powerful that they never feel cliched.
Only two African American actors — Al Freeman Jr. for “One Life to Live” (1979) and Darnell Williams for “All My Children” (1985) — have won in this category. Voters may feel it is time to reward more diversity. And after almost four decades in the industry, Reynolds may have overdue sentiment on his side.
Abe’s anger simmers, but the scenes in the reel don’t give Reynolds much opportunity to display the kind of explosive rage that Emmy voters like to see.
This is only Reynolds’s third nomination for this role in the more than 30 years. Is it possible that voters simply don’t respond strongly to this character?
“Days” hasn’t won this category since the back-to-back victories for Macdonald Carey (1974-1975). Will the curse against the series continue?
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