The final season of “Game of Thrones” made a major splash with the Emmy Awards nominations, garnering a record-breaking 32 bids. Once again, Lena Headey finds herself back in the Best Drama Supporting Actress race, which brings her nomination total to five, making her the second most nominated “Thrones” actor. But could it finally be Headey’s time to be the second “Thrones” actor to win an Emmy?
The only “Thrones” star to have taken home an Emmy is, of course, Peter Dinklage, who is aiming for his record-breaking fourth drama supporting actor statuette this year. He’s the most nominated actor in the cast, earning a bid for all eight seasons. Before this year, Headey was tied with Diana Rigg, who earned four drama guest actress nominations for playing Olenna Tyrell, as the second most nominated cast members.
As Cersei Lannister, Headey had sparse screen time in the show’s final season. But when Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), bristling with rage, carried out her attack on Kings Landing in the fifth episode “The Bells,” Headey finally had the opportunity to shine. The transition from overconfidence, to fear, to admission of defeat as Cersei watched Daenerys unleash dragon fire on her naval force, then the Golden Company, and finally the city’s innocent civilians exposed a bundle of emotions we’d never seen from Cersei. Even more so when she and her brother/lover Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) escape to the tunnels below the Red Keep, where she, teary-eyed, begs him to not let her and their unborn child die, just before they’re ultimately killed by the crumbling walls of the fortress.
Viewers knew Cersei as the cunning, remorseless and power-hungry queen who would take any measure necessary to secure her seat on the Iron Throne, even if that meant blowing up a church filled with hundreds of people. Headey had been invariably great at delivering Cersei’s cheeky one-liners and expressing an array of emotions with small facial mannerisms, but when everything crashed and burned for the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, Headey emanated Cersei’s nearly unseen vulnerability. Her death scene is the type of ambivalent moment voters may remember, especially since Headey arguably managed to elicit sympathy for a character we shouldn’t necessarily pity.
As evidenced by the nominations, voters are seemingly in the mood to give “Thrones” a big goodbye hug, in which case its poor non-Dinklage track record in the acting categories may not carry as much weight as it once did. Headey is now not only the second most nominated actor from the show, but if she doesn’t win this year, she’d go home empty-handed for playing Cersei Lannister. We’ve recently seen the “last chance to award them” narrative work, whether it be Jon Hamm (“Mad Men,” 2015) and Matthew Rhys (“The Americans,” 2018) for the final seasons of their shows, or Claire Foy (“The Crown,” 2018), who passed the torch on to Olivia Colman to play Queen Elizabeth II in the upcoming third and fourth seasons.
But what these three aforementioned actors didn’t have was internal competition. Headey is nominated alongside three of her co-stars — Gwendoline Christie, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams — and could split the vote with them; both Christie and Turner are enjoying their first bids for the show and in their careers, while Williams is celebrating her second one. With Arya (Williams) killing the Night King, Brienne (Christie) being knighted and Sansa (Turner) becoming the Queen in the North, they all had material that makes them viable contenders in this race.
Voters can only pick one choice for the win, versus the old format of ranking your choices, so a potential vote-split is possible and could benefit the other two nominees in this category, Julia Garner (“Ozark”) and Fiona Shaw (“Killing Eve”). Then again, the support for “Thrones” could be so massive that even a vote-split doesn’t hurt any of the four ladies’ chances, in which case you can argue Headey could have the edge since she’s been nominated so many times.
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 22. And join in the fun debate over the 2019 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.