While the highly anticipated final season of “Game of Thrones” doesn’t premiere until April 14, one thing is clear (especially after that straight-fire trailer): Lena Headey might just finally win a Primetime Emmy Award for playing Cersei Lannister on the HBO juggernaut. Headey has four previous Best Drama Supporting Actress nominations (2014-16, 2018), and is currently tied with Diana Rigg as the second most Emmy-nominated “Game of Thrones” actor, behind Peter Dinklage, who has seven bids and three wins under his belt. Will Emmy voters finally bend the knee to Headey on her fifth try?
To her benefit, this is the last time Emmy voters can reward her for this role. This is a narrative that several actors in the past have ridden to an Emmy win:
1. Claire Foy: Best Drama Actress for “The Crown” (2018)
2. Matthew Rhys: Best Drama Actor for “The Americans” (2018)
3. Maggie Smith: Best Drama Supporting Actress for “Downton Abbey” (2016)
4. Jon Hamm: Best Drama Actor for “Mad Men” (2015)
5. Bryan Cranston: Best Drama Actor for “Breaking Bad” (2014)
6. Anna Gunn: Best Drama Supporting Actress for “Breaking Bad” (2014)
7. Aaron Paul: Best Drama Supporting Actor for “Breaking Bad” (2014)
8. Kyle Chandler: Best Drama Actor for “Friday Night Lights” (2011)
The goodbye hugs for Chandler, Foy, Hamm, and Rhys were also their inaugural Emmy statuettes, so the same could happen to Headey.
What could significantly work in her favor is that “Game of Thrones” is the most rewarded scripted series in Emmy history, with 47 wins, and is the second most rewarded program overall, behind “Saturday Night Live.” The show’s final season is expected to rack up another handful of nominations, and if it happens to go on a sweep, Headey could go along for the ride. It also helps that the final season airs right before voting commences; the show will still be fresh in voters’ minds.
While Emilia Clarke, Maisie Williams and Kit Harington were all snubbed last year after receiving nods for the sixth season, Headey wasn’t, which is a sign of strength. Plus, she’s overdue for an Emmy and plays the type of role that is absolutely in the TV academy’s wheelhouse: while her performance is mostly subtle, she is the mustache-twirling, winking devil who Emmy voters gravitate towards.
That said, both Sophie Turner and Williams have good chances of making the lineup this time around. If all three have good material in Season 8 and there’s no clear standout among the three, they could end up splitting the vote, paving the way for a non-“Game of Thrones” actress to win. In 2016, Clarke, Headey and Williams were all nominated in this category, but ended up losing to Smith for “Downton Abbey.”
But even last year when Headey had no internal competition and could have benefited from a potential “The Handmaid’s Tale” vote split — Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, and Yvonne Strahovski were all nominated — she lost to Thandie Newton (“Westworld”). Dinklage is the only “Game of Thrones” actor to have won an acting Emmy, which could point to a lack of support for “Game of Thrones” within the acting branch.
According to our combined Emmy odds, Headey is in the frontrunner position with odds of 37/10. Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”), Julia Garner (“Ozark”), Williams (“Game of Thrones”), Turner (“Game of Thrones”), and Susan Kalechi Watson (“This Is Us”) are the other predicted nominees.
In the near future, you can check out how our experts rank this year’s Emmy contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own 2019 Emmy predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on July 16.