The slugfest for the top spot at “Succession’s” Waystar Royco has always been a bloodbath in the making. But the return of the HBO drama series could turn the supporting actor in a drama category at the Emmys into an equally bruising match.
Once again, the series’ stacked ensemble is certain to produce multiple acting nominees for its third season, with Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen, Nicholas Braun and Alan Ruck all being pushed as supporting by HBO.
Should the first three land nominations, it will be a repeat of 2020, when the show was last eligible.
Read more: Variety’s Awards Circuit Emmys Predictions Hub
But in that race, the wealth of new “Succession” nominees likely split the vote, opening a path to the win for “The Morning Show’s” Billy Crudup. But this isn’t 2020. This year, “The Morning Show’s” heat has cooled considerably while “Succession” is coming off a barn burner of a finale, featuring power moves by all four actors, some more successful than others.
Is it realistic to think all four can make the cut, and would any of them actually stand a chance if the ballot looks like a Roy family reunion? Perhaps, but it will mean pitching one undeniable contender to voters to keep the series from cannibalizing itself.
Fortunately for “Succession,” cast additions Alexander Skarsgård and Adrien Brody were submitted as guest actors, avoiding even more supporting actor competition.
Of the four supporting stars, Culkin is the surest lock for a nomination and the current front-runner for the win. He’s coming off a season that positioned Roman Roy squarely at its center, only to decimate his painstakingly choreographed path to the corporate throne. He was given, by far, the most to do in the third season, driven by desperation as the character’s repeated errors in judgment led his father, Logan (Brian Cox), to ice him out of the inner circle.
Whether it was inadvertently exposing his sexual dynamic with Gerri (J. Smith Cameron), obliterating the last shards of his brother Kendall’s (Jeremy Strong) dignity or collapsing in the aftermath of the Roy children’s attempted coup of their father, Roman has never been more vulnerable and, in turn, Culkin has never been better.
Macfadyen is also a solid bet after Tom Wambsgans cunningly aligned with his father-in- law, Logan, and blindsided his wife, Shiv (Sarah Snook), in the eleventh hour.
Braun is a favorite among the top-notch ensemble as Cousin Greg and although Greg took more of a backseat this season, it’d be surprising if he didn’t land a ballot spot.
The bigger question is whether Ruck can score his first nomination as Connor “I’m the eldest son!” Roy, who has never been as central as his power-hungry siblings. But now that he’s demanded a seat at the table, Ruck has been handed his best scenes yet.
Whatever combination of “Succession” stars make the cut , they will have to fend off a healthy supply of new and returning challengers. Netflix and “Squid Game” already proved they can handle “Succession” at the SAG Awards, and O Yeong-su could represent their strength in this category.
Apple TV+’s freshman hit “Severance” could toss John Turturro into the mix as well.
Then there’s the return of AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” which means Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito are strong possibilities too — and never count out Crudup, who remains “The Morning Show’s” most consistent player.
As of now, “Succession” is primed for victory in multiple categories, both drama and lead actor among them. But if it wants that supporting statue, it has to champion an irrefutable candidate and, in that case, it’s probably best to bet on the ascension of Roman Roy. Of the four supporting stars, Culkin is the surest lock for a nomination and the current front-runner for the win.
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