Jonathan Banks has one of the coolest Emmy records and one of the most dubious ones. He is the only person to be nominated for three shows — “Wiseguy,” “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” — in Best Drama Supporting Actor, and he also shares the record, with Ed Begley Jr., for the most nominations without a win in the category at 0-6. If he doesn’t take home the gold this year on a potential (un)lucky seventh bid, then he’ll have that unfortunate record all to himself.
Banks tied the “St. Elsewhere” star’s record last year after losing to “Game of Thrones'” Peter Dinklage, who bagged a record-setting fourth statuette, breaking the tie he shared with Banks’ “Breaking Bad” co-star Aaron Paul. Banks and Begley are two of five men with six nominations — the second most in the category behind Dinklage’s eight — but the other three, Will Geer (“The Waltons”), Bruce Weitz (“Hill Street Blues”) and Jimmy Smits (“L.A. Law”), have all won. So if Banks gets shortlisted this year, he’ll climb to solo second place with seven nominations.
The actor earned his first nomination in 1989 for “Wiseguy,” falling to Larry Drake (“L.A. Law”). His sophomore bid came 24 years later for playing Mike Ehrmantraut on “Breaking Bad,” but Bobby Cannavale (“Boardwalk Empire”) won. His last four bids have been for reprising Mike on “Better Call Saul” (2015-17, ’19); Dinklage (2015, ’19), Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline,” 2016) and John Lithgow (“The Crown,” 2017) prevailed instead.
Banks was widely predicted to win in 2015 when he had a sensational Mike-centric episode with “Five-O,” but he may have been doomed by the new voting system that year, which switched from the tape system to branch membership-wide voting. Even Dinklage was dumbfounded that he had won, singling out “Jonathan Banks and the rest.”
With “Game of Thrones” over, is it finally Banks’ time? Sitting in first place in our odds, he had another great season in arguably “Saul’s” best installment yet, including what was basically a two-hander hour between him and Bob Odenkirk in the Vince Gilligan-helmed “Bagman,” as Mike and Jimmy trudged through the desert with $7 million in cash.
But he has some stiff competition not from from a pair of never-nominated scene-stealers. “The Morning Show’s” Billy Crudup, in second place, won Critics’ Choice and scored a surprising Screen Actors Guild Award nomination in its single drama actor category for his devilish TV exec Cory Ellison. Meanwhile, Tom Pelphrey has been surging in our odds for his eye-popping turn as Laura Linney‘s bipolar brother Ben on the third season of “Ozark.” The “Guiding Light” alum, who has two Daytime Emmys, is currently in fourth place, behind also Kieran Culkin (“Succession”) in third. Rounding out the top six are three-time winner Bradley Whitford (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and two-time nominee David Harbour (“Stranger Things”).
If Banks doesn’t cross the finish line this year, he has one last shot for “Saul” with its upcoming sixth and final season.
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