From the sprawling cast of HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” a prequel to “Game of Thrones” telling the story of House Targaryen, the performer most likely to earn a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination is Matt Smith, say Gold Derby’s predictions. He is currently in seventh place in the combined odds for Best TV Drama Actor and could, if nominated, pull off the highly specific thing Peter Dinklage did for “Thrones” two years ago: win the sole actor category as a supporting player for portraying a fan-favorite character on his show.
The big difference between Smith and Dinklage is that the latter had to wait his turn before finally prevailing. He had been nominated five previous times for “Thrones” and was on his seventh individual bid overall when he finally took home his first solo victory for what was the final season of the HBO behemoth in 2020. At that point, he had already bagged four Emmys for his turn as Tyrion Lannister on the series and was long overdue for recognition from his peers in SAG-AFTRA, who had previously also shortlisted him for his individual performance in “The Station Agent” (2003) but only rewarded him as a member of the “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017) ensemble.
Smith, meanwhile, is hoping to win for the debut season of “House of the Dragon” and on what would be his first solo nomination. The good news for him is that despite not having the résumé that Dinklage had when he triumphed, he is certainly no stranger to the SAG Awards. He is a two-time nominee as a member of “The Crown’s” ensemble in its first two seasons (2017-18), plus an Emmy nominee for his portrayal of the now-deceased Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on the show. Name recognition can go a long way with a big group like SAG-AFTRA, especially for someone like Smith, who is contending for an ensemble-heavy show and therefore against numerous of his co-stars, including his onscreen brother Paddy Considine (11th place in the odds).
On “House of the Dragon,” whose story kicks off 200 years before the events of “Thrones,” Smith plays Daemon Targaryen, the prince of the Targaryen dynasty who is also a peerless warrior and an experienced dragonrider. Even though he possesses neither the charm nor the wit that made Tyrion an early fan favorite on “Thrones,” Smith imbues his character with such magnetism and peculiarity that won’t let you take your eyes off the actor whenever he’s onscreen. It’s a remarkable turn from Smith, who, like Dinklage, is the type of scene-stealer that can likely overcome both internal competition and the fact that he’s a supporting actor competing in a category that combines lead and supporting performances.
Although Smith has not yet broken into Gold Derby’s Top 5 for Best TV Drama Actor, he is, as of this writing, expected to be nominated as a member of the “House of the Dragon” ensemble, which sits in fourth place in the odds for its category.
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