For Your Consideration: Supporting Actors – Terry O’Quinn and Michael Urie

[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 last, and seventh, set of candidates. Tomorrow, we’ll begin looking at Supporting Actresses. For all Supporting Actor candidates, Click Here]

Supporting Actor in a Drama

Terry O’Quinn (John Locke)

Lost

I’ve saved Terry O’Quinn until the end not because I don’t know what to say, but rather because it almost feels unnecessary to say it. After unjustly losing the Emmy two years ago, Terry O’Quinn has unfortunately gone unrecognized for his role as John Locke, and in a way it makes sense. The 2nd season wasn’t a big one for Locke, as he lacked a true defining moment. It was more of a general pattern, his obsession with the Hatch being a long, drawn out affair as opposed to a single emotional moment. However, I will make no excuses for the Emmys or any other awards show when it comes to the coming awards season. Because, when it comes to supporting performances, no character had a bigger episode this season than John Locke, and no actor stepped up to the plate like Terry O’Quinn. And for that, my friends, Terry O’Quinn deserves an Emmy.

This season, Locke was given the opportunity to finally reconnect with the island, the very thing that had so tempted him in the first season when he stumbled upon the hatch. Without that hatch to rely upon, Locke was asked to step up to the plate and lead his people after Eko’s untimely death. The result of this was Locke regaining his faith, of sorts, from Eko’s scripture-laden stick, and sending him on a journey to find the Flame Station, the Others’ compound, a certain submarine, a magic box, a gruesome task, a fateful journey, a mysterious encounter, a near fatal shooting, a visitor from his past, and a final plea to Jack to not allow outsiders to enter the sacred island he now calls home. That journey, taking place in the second portion of the season, hearkened back to the Season One Locke we knew and loved.

And O’Quinn was right back with it. Don’t call it a comeback for O’Quinn, though, because he was just as solid in the second season as he was here. However, the content of each season can’t be compared: whereas Locke became marginal in season two, he was the centre of attention in season three. And O’Quinn rose to the occasion, never backing down from a challenge and marking some memorable exchanges with Sayid, with Jack, and with the leader of the others, Ben. At all times, O’Quinn played Locke like the man of faith again, the man who believes when others don’t and, perhaps, might just be onto something. Lost wouldn’t be the same without Locke, and the Emmy Awards will not be the same without Terry O’Quinn. They made a mistake two years ago, and it’s time they made it up to him.

Episode Selection: “The Man From Tallahassee” (Aired March 21st, 2007)

In Season One, Terry O’Quinn should have won that emmy for Walkabout, the episode where we learned he had previously been in a wheelchair (One of the show’s best reveals, perhaps only topped by this season’s finale). In Season Two, O’Quinn was at his finest when sparring with Henry Gale, the prisoner in the hatch who we later learned was the leader of The Others. The Man from Tallahassee takes these two elements (Locke’s past paralyzation and his confrontations with Ben) and puts them into the same episode. The result is a philosophical and powerful hour of television that wraps itself around the island as a character, Locke’s journey, and most importantly: we finally learn how Locke lost the use of his legs. It is perhaps the final chapter in Locke’s journey, that final piece of the puzzle, and Terry O’Quinn knocked it out of the park. If this performance isn’t worthy of an Emmy, I don’t know what is.

YouTube“The Man from Tallahassee”

Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Michael Urie (Marc)

Ugly Betty

After watching the pilot for Ugly Betty, I felt that the show was far too vindictive. At that time, the various intricacies of the show were tossed aside in favour of fish out of water at its finest. The staff at Mode magazine were downright mean to hapless, unfortunately dressed Betty, and the result was that they all became instant villains from that moment onwards. And, thus, it is to the show’s credit that they managed to take these people and turn them into human beings who we empathize with on a weekly basis. One of those individuals is Wilhelmina’s flamboyant and biting secretary Marc, and Michael Urie’s portrayal of the character has managed to turn heartless into heartfelt. In a show that has transformed itself along with its titular heroine, Urie’s performance is absolutely part of that reason, and for it he deserved to be considered for an Emmy Award.

What Urie excels at it is his various dynamics with the cast. To be honest, his role in badgering Betty got old fast, and as a result it has almost entirely been eliminated from the show in past episodes. Instead, Marc has created his own niche in being catty with Amanda, scheming with Wilhelmina, and even torturing poor Christina in the closet. And yet, they even managed to reconcile he and Betty, something I didn’t think was possible after the pilot. Much of the reason that Vanessa Williams is receiving Emmy attention, in my book, has to do with Urie’s portrayal of this character.

And that’s really why he deserves to be recognized: in a show that is so reliant on its star, and its bigger names, it is the smaller ones that need to work to stand out. And, in the end, Marc isn’t classified by his sexual preference or his flamboyance, but rather by his quick wit and his genuine sense of caring for his friends. At season’s end, when he reunited with Wilhelmina after ending up being traded away, it was a heartfelt moment that I didn’t think the character was capable of. And, without Urie’s performance, I’m not sure it would have been. That fact alone, coupled with his strong comic work, makes him someone voters should consider in this category.

Episode Selection: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (Aired March 22nd, 2007)

Ironically, considering I just spent a paragraph talking about how he wasn’t defined by his sexuality, his Emmy submission actually revolves around this fact. It features Marc, faced with his visiting mother who doesn’t know he is gay, making a deal with Betty that she will pretend to be his girlfriend. This leads to a sitcom-style dinner where the family needs to play along with the charade, and there’s some decent comedy involved. And while I believe he had stronger episodes, this one has some strong dramatic material and, perhaps most importantly, features Urie and America Ferrera, which is likely to appeal to voters. I can only hope that this episode allows them to notice the great work Urie has been doing.

YouTube“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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Filed under ABC, Award Shows, Emmy Awards, Lost, Television, Ugly Betty

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