Not so fast, ‘Succession’: Could SAG Award vote-split lead to win for Lee Jung-jae or Billy Crudup?

When the Screen Actors Guild nominations were announced earlier this month, many pundits were surprised to see threeSuccession” stars nominated in the drama actor category: Jeremy Strong, Brian Cox and Kieran Culkin. After all, that had never happened before in this race, as the guild forces leads and supportings to compete against each other for only five slots. Is it possible there will now be a “Succession” SAG Award vote-split in this category? Co-nominees Lee Jung-jae (“Squid Game”) and Billy Crudup (“The Morning Show”) certainly hope so, as they’d be the ones to benefit.

June-jae is one of the breakout performers of 2021, thanks to starring in Netflix’s number one show of all time, “Squid Game.” The Korean actor plays down-on-his-luck father Seong Gi-hun, who agrees to enter the deadly games in order to win money to support his family. He is one of the most sought-after stars in South Korea, most known for his work in “The Thieves,” “New World,” “The Face Reader,” “Assassination,” the “Along with the Gods” series and “Deliver Us from Evil.” “Squid Game” is also nominated for its ensemble cast and for drama actress Jung Ho-yeon.

SEE SAG Awards TV nominations: ‘Succession’ and ‘Ted Lasso’ lead with 5 followed by ‘The Morning Show,’ ‘Squid Game’ …

Crudup received a surprise SAG Award nomination the last time he was eligible for the Apple TV Plus series, though he lost out to Peter Dinklage for the final season of “Game of Thrones.” But Crudup rebounded that year by winning at the Critics Choice and Emmy Awards for his role as network executive Corey Ellison on “The Morning Show.” Now in its second season, his character dealt with multiple issues including Reese Witherspoon‘s Bradley Jackson’s bisexual relationship and Jennifer Aniston‘s Alex Levy going missing (and later contracting the coronavirus). “The Morning Show” cast earned an ensemble bid, while Crudup, Aniston and Witherspoon also scored individual notices.

“Succession” returned to HBO in the fall after taking a year off due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It came back in fighting spirit, with the central Roy family engaged in a civil war as Kendell (Strong) accused his father Logan (Cox) of knowing about his company’s crimes. In all, “Succession” earned a whopping five SAG Award nominations: ensemble cast, male actor for Strong, Cox and Culkin and female actor for Sarah Snook. (Luckily, Snook doesn’t have a vote-split to worry about in her category.)

Why do vote-splits happen? Think of it this way: if voters are really big fans of “Succession” and want someone from the show to win, there’s a chance they’ll each mark off someone different than their fellow voters. In that scenario, a divided vote could result in someone else pulling out a triumph. Sure, vote-splits are common at the SAG Awards, but there are some instances of trios defying them.

Just last year in the drama actress category, there were three “The Crown” ladies nominated, but Gillian Anderson was able to claim victory over Olivia Colman and Emma Corrin. Of course, the other two nominees also hailed from the same show (Julia Garner and Laura Linney of “Ozark”), so that’s not really a fair comparison to today. You have to go all the way back to the 2000 ceremony to find an example of a dramatic actor (Edie Falco from “The Sopranos”) beating two of her co-stars (Lorraine Bracco and Nancy Marchand) as well as nominees from two other shows (Anderson of “The X-Files” and Annie Potts of “Any Day Now”).

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