[In Week One of Cultural Learnings’ 59th Annual Emmy Awards Nominations Preview, we’re looking at possible contenders for the Supporting Actor awards in both comedy and drama. Today, we present our fourth set of candidates. For all candidates, Click Here]
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Rainn Wilson (Dwight)
While sentimental types might support John Krasinki’s Jim, it is Rainn Wilson’s Dwight that remains, and will always remain, the show’s supporting comic center. Jim’s pranks may initiate the laughs, but it is always Dwight reaction that gives me the most enjoyment. The fact that Rainn Wilson wasn’t nominated last year despite the utterly fantastic work in “Dwight’s Speech” is outrageous, and therefore it is only fitting that he be given a shot at an Emmy this year.
Without Dwight, The Office would not function the way it currently does. Michael would be infinitely less funny if he didn’t have someone hanging off of his every word. Jim would be a juvenile prankster if Dwight’s reactions weren’t so funny that we forget about the idiocy of it all. And, in those moments where Dwight is asked to step up to the plate and be his own starring character, he knocks them out of the park. His relationship with Angela has always been played subtlely, and it is often one of the show’s best qualities.
Rainn Wilson always brings a quality to the character that makes him more likable than he really should be; while there is no question Dwight is a decent guy at his core, Wilson always ensures that we see that just enough to make it work. Whether he’s trying to capture a bat, trying to take over the Office, or actually succeeding in doing so, Dwight is always played with just the right amount of nerdiness, naivety, and gusto. A scene-stealer in every possible way, Rainn Wilson deserves credit for bringing Dwight to the screen each week with an Emmy Nomination.
Episode Selection: “The Job” (Airdate: May 17th, 2007)
Currently, Wilson’s episode entry is the early-season episode “The Coup,” nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award. While a decent episode, and featuring some solid Dwight comedy, it doesn’t work as well for me as the recent season finale as the highlight of Dwight’s absurdity and humanity. “The Job” features Dwight finally having his dream come true: Michael appoints him boss, and he gets to run The Office his own way. Even though I have some problems with the way the season finale played out, Dwight’s part in it was indicative of some of the character’s best qualities, and Rainn Wilson knocked it out of the park. While individual Dwight moments certainly resonate more than any single episode, this one certainly brought a lot to the table for the character comedically. The Coup certainly has more of a character arc, but the hour-long finale has more overall moments for voters to remember.
YouTube – “The Job”
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Jack Coleman (Mr. Bennet)
Although the academy will not be handing out awards based on an entire season’s work, the journey of Jack Coleman over the span of this past year has been one of the most intriguing in all of television. Introduced as a shadowy villain without a name, Noah Bennet quickly became a conflicted father, a reluctant conspirator and, eventually, a hero in his own right. When we finally learned his first name in the show’s season finale, one felt that a real arc had been created: this person who we barely knew but 22 episodes ago was now perhaps the character we knew the best. And it is Jack Coleman’s portrayal of this character that makes him deserving of Emmy Award recognition.
A lot has been said about series co-star Masi Oka, whose lovable Hiro is most certainly an integral part of the show’s appeal. I agree, and think he may be nominated, but Coleman’s work is more subtle, less central. At the beginning of the season, we had to believe that he was an evil villain, out to destroy the heroes central to the story. As the season progressed, we had to buy his protectiveness of his daughter Claire, and we had to view him as a dangerous figure who certainly has a softer side. And, in the end, we had to buy him as a hero in his own right, someone fighting for the common good. While Hiro may have had a more substantial character arc, it was Coleman who had the most dramatic range and pulled it off with apparent ease.
Voters may not notice Coleman when Emmy time rolls around: he’s not a major name, and he certainly doesn’t have the same level of media attention as Masi Oka. However, I believe that they should be looking in his direction. While some Heroes characters got muddled in repetitive and boring storylines, Coleman always elevated Bennet to a different level. And in the end, I think that makes him the most deserving member of the Heroes cast when it comes to the Emmy Awards.
Episode Selection: “Company Man”
You have no idea how hard it was for me to write the previous three paragraphs without trampling all over this one. Company Man, the best episode of Heroes produced in the past year, was a stunning piece of work almost entirely due to Coleman’s performance as the titular employee. In this one episode, he had to justify all of his past actions, while also justifying all of his present and future ones. While Bryan Fuller’s writing was certainly a great part of this, Coleman elevated to a new level. This episode will be making the rounds as the Emmy submission for other Heroes actors, and I can only hope that they see just how integral and fantastic Jack Coleman is within it. Far and away, Jack Coleman gives the best performance in the show’s first season in “Company Man”. And it is certainly Emmy worthy. [Unfortunately, the below video misses out on my favourite flashback, where we see Bennet tell Claire that he isn’t her real father while picking out his distinctive horn-rimmed glasses. But trust me, it was great.]
YouTube – “Company Man”