Chris Rock deserves an Emmy for showing his serious side in ‘Fargo’

Chris Rock is no stranger to Emmy. In the 24 years since his first nomination, the celebrated comic has earned a whopping 19 nominations for writing, directing, producing and performing in his series and specials. He has won four of those Emmy bids — three for writing (his self-titled series and two stand-up specials “Bring the Pain” and “Kill the Messenger”) and one for producing “Bring the Pain.”

This Emmy season, Rock is primed to earn two more nominations. The first (and more likely) is as Guest Comedy Actor for his third sting hosting “Saturday Night Live.” That late-night staple gave Rock his big break more than three decades ago. Our exclusive Emmyy predictions have Rock pegged in fifth place for a nomination with odds of 8/1.

The more intriguing prospect is the possibility of a nomination for Best TV Movie/Limited Series Actor for his performance as a 1950s crime boss in “Fargo.” In the FX series’ fourth edition, he played Loy Cannon, the leader of a Kansas City crime syndicate made up largely of black migrants from the South seeking a better life. His gang soon tangles with the established Kansas City mafia, led by the hot-headed Josto Fadda (Jason Schwarzman) who has little use for these rival black gangsters.

While previous seasons of “Fargo” saw actors play mobsters in a larger-than-life style, Rock takes the opposite tack. He choosing to portray Loy as one cool customer who holds his cards very close to the vest. The quieter that his Loy becomes, the more powerfully dangerous he appears to be.

It’s a smart and brave acting choice by Rock, whose approach to the character has garnered high marks from the nation’s TV critics. Ani Bundel from NBC News raves that “Rock’s performance is the highlight of the season,” Danette Chavez of A.V. Club cheered his “inspired character work” and Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times observed that he delivers “his most impressive performance to date.”

Rock has never before been nominated on the drama side. He is only given an outside chance by our odds. However, honoring a comedian for a serious role has proven to be catnip to voters in the past. And that might just give the edge to Rock.

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