Justin Theroux is currently batting 1.000 at the Emmys, having gone 2-for-2 in the Outstanding Variety Special (Live) category as a producer on “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” a pair of live specials recreating the iconic works of Norman Lear. But could this be the year Emmy voters finally show some leftover love for his work in front of the camera as well?
Theroux, who wowed audiences as the lead in HBO’s critically acclaimed drama “The Leftovers” from 2014 to 2017, has never been nominated for acting. He currently stars on the Apple TV+ series “The Mosquito Coast,” which was just renewed for a second season, and is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Theroux’s uncle, Paul Theroux (who happens to be a delightful interview and is willing to poke fun at his nephew if you’ve got some time to spare). On the series, which deviates from its source material in a number of ways, Theroux plays Allie Fox, a brilliant inventor and father of two who uproots his family when he finds himself on the run from the government.
Theroux’s strong performance has landed him in eighth place in Gold Derby’s combined odds for Best Drama Actor. He’s got 75/1 odds right now, and he’s been on the rise as of late, but he’ll need to leap at least a couple people if he hopes to snag a nom and seriously compete at this year’s Emmys.
The drama actor race, which is less crowded this year without the men of “Succession” or “Ozark” leading man Jason Bateman, is currently led by Josh O’Connor of “The Crown,” who took home the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award earlier this year for his performance as Prince Charles on the Netflix drama. The Emmys have never been as keen on the royal series as everyone else though — only Claire Foy and John Lithgow have won for their performances — and O’Connor walked away empty-handed at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the BAFTAs. Still, with “The Crown’s” Season 4 resurgence, it would be a major shock if he doesn’t at least earn a nomination.
SEE ‘The Mosquito Coast’s’ Logan Polish on playing ‘voice of reason’ Dina Fox [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]
Also ahead of Theroux in the odds are a trio of former Emmy winners: Billy Porter (“Pose”) is in third place, Matthew Rhys (“Perry Mason”) in fourth and Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”) in fifth. We know Emmy voters love to rubber-stamp (although Rhys previously won for a different show, “The Americans”), and each actor has given a performance worthy of admiration. These things combined means Theroux is less likely to bump them from the race (even if “Perry Mason” has underperformed).
This leaves us with the other men also hoping to score their first bids for acting just like Theroux. They are Regé-Jean Page, the breakout star of “Bridgerton” who’s currently in second place, as well as Jonathan Majors of “Lovecraft Country,” who is in sixth, and the Mandalorian himself, Pedro Pascal, who sits just ahead of Theroux in seventh. While he might technically be the most accomplished of this bunch, Theroux’s turn as Fox didn’t exactly sweep viewers off their feet the way Page’s Duke of Hastings did on Netflix’s heady romance. And “The Mosquito Coast” is not a universal, populist hit like “The Mandalorian.” This makes his journey to Emmy glory that much harder. But it can be done.
First, there is an argument to be had that Pascal doesn’t spend enough time sans helmet on “The Mandalorian” to have made much of an impression on Emmy voters. The show’s only acting nominations last year came in the form of voice-over for the exceptionally fun Taika Waititi and guest actor for multiple-time Emmy nominee Giancarlo Esposito. It seems more likely that the latter will be recognized in supporting this year than Pascal will be able to break into the lead actor race. Meanwhile, “Lovecraft Country” has underperformed for its individual actors outside of the Critics Choice Awards. The love for the show has also died down since its debut last summer, which could make things difficult for Majors come nomination time.
There is also the fact that Emmy voters seem to be more in tune with Apple TV+ shows than the masses. Billy Crudup’s supporting actor win for “The Morning Show” last year proved it and was bolstered by the nominations for Steve Carell and Jennifer Aniston even if it’s likely they were helped by name recognition. All three also earned Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations, with Aniston winning. And lastly, you can’t discount the simple possibility that because Emmy voters denied Theroux for his incredible work in “The Leftovers” that they could see this as an opportunity to rectify their mistake. So there are a number of things to consider when it comes to Theroux sneaking into the Best Drama Actor field and finally earning recognition for his acting talents. And things will only get more interesting as nomination-round voting opens on June 17.
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