‘Westworld’ will make Emmy history if Aaron Paul becomes the show’s 4th Best Actor nominee

Will Aaron Paul be nominated for Best Drama Actor at the Emmys for joining the cast of “Westworld” this spring for season three? He already has a trio of Emmys under his belt for his supporting role on “Breaking Bad,” but if he does make the cut for his “Westworld” turn as a traumatized military veteran who teams up with robotic host Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), he’ll set a new Emmy record.

“Westworld” has already had three different actors nominated for Best Drama Actor: Anthony Hopkins (2017), Jeffrey Wright (2018) and Ed Harris (2018). Paul would be the fourth, and no program in Emmy history has every received nominations in this category for four different actors. As it stands, “Westworld” is already tied for that record with three.

The first show to rack up nominations for three different stars was “NYPD Blue.” For its first season, it earned nominations for leading men Dennis Franz and David Caruso in 1994. The very next year, after Caruso left the show, Franz returned to the category with his new partner Jimmy Smits. Both men received multiple nominations after that (and Franz ended up winning four times), but no other lead actor from the show made the cut.

Then “Law & Order” accomplished that feat, thanks in part to the show’s high turnover of cast members over the course of its run. Michael Moriarty was the first, receiving Best Drama Actor bids from 1991 to 1994. Then Sam Waterston took over as assistant district attorney and earned nominations in 1997, 1999 and 2000. In 2000 he was joined by Jerry Orbach, receiving his first and only nomination in the category. The show ran for another 10 years after that, but Emmy voters moved on from the venerable series.

As of this writing one of the Expert journalists we’ve polled, Kaitlin Thomas (TVGuide.com), thinks Paul will be nominated for “Westworld,” but might the others be underestimating him? In addition to “Westworld” and Paul’s already strong Emmy track records, Paul is also an Emmy contender for the “Breaking Bad” followup movie “El Camino,” and having multiple roles in the Emmy derby often leads to multiple nominations.

Just last year Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora” and “The Act”), Fiona Shaw (“Killing Eve” and “Fleabag”), Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve” and “SNL”) and Alex Borstein (“Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Family Guy”) received multiple acting noms, with Arquette and Borstein winning their bids for “The Act” and “Maisel,” respectively. So there’s a chance we’ll be seeing a lot of Aaron Paul this summer when nominations are announced.

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