Toni Collette: Double Emmy nominee for ‘Pieces of Her’ and ‘The Staircase’?

An actress receiving two Primetime Emmy nominations in a single year may seem like a rare occurrence, but it is actually fairly common. In fact, there have been 65 instances since 1967, including two last year involving Aidy Bryant (Comedy Actress, “Shrill” and Comedy Supporting Actress, “Saturday Night Live”) and Jean Smart (Comedy Actress, “Hacks” and Movie/Limited Supporting Actress, “Mare of Easttown”). What is uncommon is a woman earning double recognition within the same genre, with Bryant being one of only a dozen to ever be so honored (discounting guest categories). Now, Toni Collette has a shot at becoming the lucky 13th.

For her work on the two limited series “The Staircase” and “Pieces of Her,” Collette could be nominated this year as both a featured player and a lead. On the former show, she plays Kathleen Peterson, the subject of a real early 2000s murder case that ended in the conviction of her husband, Michael. Her potential supporting notice for playing Peterson would be her third in the category following bids for “Tsunami: The Aftermath” (2007) and “Unbelievable” (2020). She lost in those cases to Judy Davis (“The Starter Wife”) and Uzo Aduba (“Mrs. America”).

On “Pieces of Her,” Collette stars as fictional speech pathologist Laura Oliver, whose dark past is slowly uncovered by her adult daughter. She has never been nominated in the Movie/Limited Actress category before, but was recognized as a lead in 2009 and 2010 for the comedy series “United States of Tara.” The first of those two outings resulted in her only Emmy win to date, with the second contest having been won by Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”).

Only nine actresses have ever competed for both possible TV movie/limited series prizes at once. The first was Sada Thompson, who was nominated in lead for “The Entertainer” and in supporting for “Lincoln” in 1976. She was followed by Patty Duke (“Having Babies III” and “A Family Upside Down,” 1978), Vanessa Redgrave (“Second Serve” and “Peter the Great,” 1986), Anne Bancroft (“Mrs. Cage” and “Broadway Bound,” 1992), Angelina Jolie (“Gia” and “George Wallace,” 1998), Holly Hunter (“When Billie Beat Bobby” and “Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her,” 2001), and Helen Mirren (“The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” and “Door to Door,” 2003).

The two most recent entrants on the list are the only ones who ended up taking home trophies. First came Sarah Paulson in 2016, who immediately made up for her supporting loss for “American Horror Story: Hotel” by snagging the corresponding lead award for award for “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” Patricia Arquette did the opposite in 2019 by simultaneously winning for her supporting turn on “The Act” and losing in lead for “Escape at Dannemora.”

The only two actresses who preceded Bryant in concurrently vying for the lead and supporting comedy awards are Polly Holliday (“Flo” and “Alice,” 1980) and Eileen Brennan (“Taxi” and “Private Benjamin,” 1981). There has never been such a case on the drama side.

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