Could Peter Sarsgaard earn an Emmy nomination for acting … in a documentary? He stars in ‘Wormwood’

Peter Sarsgaard is a strong contender for an Emmy nomination for Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor this year for playing arrogant CIA agent Martin Schmidt in Hulu’s fact-based limited series “The Looming Tower.” And this one-time Golden Globe nominee could also contend for Best Movie/Mini Actor for his role in another true story: Netflix’s “Wormwood.” But his candidacy there is unique because “Wormwood” is actually a documentary.

“Wormwood” is helmed by filmmaker Errol Morris, who is best known for his nonfiction films including “Gates of Heaven” (1978), “The Thin Blue Line” (1988), “Mr. Death” (1999) and “The Fog of War” (2003), the last of which won him the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. In “Wormwood” he investigates the mysterious death of Frank Olson, an Army scientist who died in 1953 in what may have been a CIA-ordered assassination.

The story is told largely through interviews, particularly with Olson’s son Eric who has spent his life trying to untangle government lies and propaganda about the circumstances of his father’s death. But we also see those events dramatized with reenactments in which Sarsgaard plays Frank Olson. Those reenactments change over the course of the six-part series as the investigation progresses and the truth comes more into focus.

One might not expect actors to be seriously considered for awards for simple reenactments, but the dramatized scenes in “Wormwood” don’t just illustrate facts and events. They’re a full-blown docudrama woven into the narrative. So while the series competes elsewhere in nonfiction categories, it’s also submitted in the movie/miniseries acting races for Sarsgaard’s lead performance and for the supporting turns by Christian Camargo and Molly Parker.

Appearing in two projects this year could boost Sarsgaard’s Emmy chances for both roles. Voters are often impressed by actors who demonstrate their versatility. Consider Martin Freeman, who won Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor in 2014 for “Sherlock: His Last Vow,” likely aided by voters seeing his other performance that year in “Fargo.”

Sarsgaard is in another unique position, though. If he’s nominated in both categories he could face off against his co-star — twice. A lead-acting bid for “Wormwood” could pit him against his “Looming Tower” co-star Jeff Daniels, and a supporting bid for “Looming Tower” could mean going head-to-head against Daniels’s performance in “Godless.”

Do you think Sarsgaard will receive an unconventional pair of Emmy noms this year? Watch our interview with Sarsgaard below about his performances in “The Looming Tower” and “Wormwood.”

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 nominees are announced on July 12. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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