Bradley Whitford received a Best Drama Guest Actor Emmy nomination for his turn as Commander Joseph Lawrence on “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and if his name is in the envelope, he will take command of the guest actor categories as the first person to win both.
A six-time nominee, Whitford took home Best Comedy Guest Actor in 2015 for “Transparent” to go with his Best Drama Supporting Actor victory for “The West Wing” in 2001; he received a second comedy guest actor bid in 2016 for the Amazon series. He is now one of six men who’ve won one of the two and have been shortlisted in both guest categories, which were established in 1989 (prior to this, the guest awards weren’t genre specific until 1986, when the Emmys gave out gender-neutral “guest performer” statuettes in drama and comedy for three years).
The first five who came up short in the double guest sweep are:
Hank Azaria: won in drama for “Ray Donovan” (2016); nominated in comedy for “Mad About You” (1998) and “Friends” (2003)
Michael J. Fox: won in drama for “Rescue Me” (2009); nominated in comedy for “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (2012)
Bob Newhart: won in comedy for “The Big Bang Theory” (2013); nominated in drama for “ER” (2004)
William Shatner: won in drama for “The Practice” (2004); nominated in comedy for “3rd Rock From the Sun” (1999)
Stanley Tucci: won in comedy for “Monk” (2007); nominated in drama for “ER” (2008)
Whitford, of course, almost wasn’t even in this year’s race until Hulu opted to enter the remaining three hours of Season 2 of “Handmaid’s” as orphaned episodes (Whitford’s submission is his introduction, “Postpartum”). The actor immediately skyrocketed to the top of our nomination predictions for his captivating performance as the mysterious Commander who’s unlike any we’ve met yet. (Our predictions center for the Creative Arts Emmys just launched, so make sure to make your winner picks there.) Boosting Whitford’s chances to make history even more: Season 3, in which he is a series regular, is currently airing, and “Handmaid’s,” despite only having three episodes and being ineligible in the series and regular acting races, managed to snag 11 nominations to be the second most nominated drama behind “Game of Thrones.”
“Handmaid’s” has earned an acting Emmy every season so far, including two in a row in drama guest actress, but they’ve all been for its female stars, so Whitford, just the show’s second actor to be nominated after Joseph Fiennes, would also be the “Handmaid’s” first male acting champ.
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