The Wire Tells Emmy Voters Who to Pick: Guest Actor/Actress in a Drama

Our picks for guest actor and guest actress in dramas. Lots of love for Game of Thrones, Hannibal, and women who see right through you. 

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The Primetime Emmy voters have actually already had their say. Ballots were due last Friday, and the nominations will be announced on Thursday, July 10th. In the meantime, though, we at The Wire feel it's only fair that we should have our say. Hindsight is not only 20/20, it's also fun, and if on Thursday July 10th we can't point at the Emmy voters' choices and say WRONG!, why are we even in this business? So these are the picks that Emmy voters should make. In the interests of a level playing field, we're limiting ourselves to the official Emmy ballot, though we've made sure to do our fair share of complaining about who was left off of that.

Outstanding Supporting Actor/Actress in a Comedy
Outstanding Guest Actor/Actress in a Comedy
Outstanding Supporting Actor/Actress in a Drama

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama

Honorable Mentions: Tom Noonan as one of The Blacklist's freakiest members. Robert Morse (Mad Men), for that farewell song and dance. Michael Pitt for doing some frankly unspeakable things as the much-anticipated Mason Verger on Hannibal.

Ben Feldman, Mad Men

Not unlike Orange Is the New Black on the comedy side of things, this category could entirely be filled with people who you might assume are regulars on Mad Men. But of those Mad folks, who deserves to be on this list? Well, without a doubt we have to give a spot to Ben Feldman, who handled the "nipple in a box" storyline with about as much aplomb as he possibly could. Feldman had his work cut out for him (literally, ha!) with Ginsberg, who has slowly descended over the course of his time on the show. Sure, his actions this season were extreme, but when you look back on it, Feldman planted the seeds all along.

Raúl Esparza, Hannibal

Raúl Esparza is an actor that has been fantastic in so much, but consistently eludes awards attention. (Notably on stage.) So throw him a bone here as Dr. Frederick Chilton. In adapting such a memorably squirrelly character from the films, Esparza had a task second to only Mads Mikkelsen's Hannibal, really, in terms of interpreting a character who was fairly indelible from The Silence of the Lambs. But his Chilton felt at once savvier and more vulnerable to Hannibal's maneuverings, right up until his grisly end.

Brian Geraghty, Boardwalk Empire

Geraghty was a slippery delight this past Boardwalk season as Agent Knox, the FBI agent eager to show up J. Edgar Hoover. In the episode submitted, Knox tortures Nucky Thompson's assistant Eddie Kessler, both physically and mentally, until he breaks in more ways than one. Geraghty allowed his boyish looks to give way to true cruelty. Even though he's, yes, technically, a good guy.

Harry Hamlin, Mad Men

We're giving another Mad Men slot on this list to Harry Hamlin, who, thanks to the show, is having something of a career renaissance. Hamlin's Jim Cutler went from being Ted Chaough's baggage last season to being a legitimate thorn in Don Draper's side. It's a nice, subtle performance that's more than worthy of a second consecutive nod for Hamlin (after zero for all those years on L.A. Law!).

John Noble, Sleepy Hollow

John Noble is great at playing creepy eccentrics — Lord of the RingsFringe — and his turn on Sleepy Hollow is no exception. He got to play a great turn, though, in the season finale when he went from being a unnerving ally of our heroes Ichabod and Abbie to well one of the most villainous villains. Yeah, this dude's the second horseman of the apocalypse and the son of Ichabod and his wife Katrina. (This show is marvelously confusing.)

Pedro Pascal, Game of Thrones

Pascal didn't submit "The Mountain and the Viper," a.k.a. his Inigo Montoya impression, for Emmy consideration. Instead he made the smarter choice of "Mockingbird," the episode in which he offers to fight for Tyrion. Regardless, let's not beat around the bush. Except for his character's super gruesome death, Pascal lit up the screen every time he was on Thrones this season. R.I.P. Oberyn.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Honorable Mentions: It pains me — actual physical pain — to leave the great Debbie Allen off of this list for her frequently delightful recurring appearances on Grey's Anatomy. Other painful omissions: last year's winner Carrie Preston (The Good Wife), Annaleigh Ashford (Masters of Sex), Marcia Gay Harden (The Newsroom), and Gina Torres (Hannibal). It should also be noted that this author stalled out on Masters of Sex before they got to the Allison Janney parts but has no trouble believing she was superb.

Gillian Anderson, Hannibal

Even before that season finale shocker, Anderson's unnerving work as Bedelia du Maurier made a big impression on Hannibal viewers. Anderson plugged herself into the operatic moodiness of the series quite well, and while she was absent for a great much of the season, her big self-revelation about what she's long suspected about the true nature of Hannibal Lecter, was riveting. Here's hoping she doesn't have a nothing show like Crisis keeping her away next season.

Jessica Hecht, Breaking Bad

The last time Hecht was on the show, Breaking Bad was not nearly the phenomenon it had become when she stepped back into her role as Gretchen, Walt's old friend and business partner. She gets one scene in her reprise, but it's a doozy, as Walt holds she and her husband hostage in their fancy home bought with money Walt thinks should have been his. Hecht is at once afraid, indignant, and pitying of what Walt has become, often in the same line reading. It's the kind of work an actress who's become a fantastic stage performer would deliver. And wouldn't you know ...

Margo Martindale, The Americans

While Martindale's Claudia was a much bigger presence in season one (for which she was Emmy-nominated last year), there's still no denying that an Americans episode with Martindale in it is far better than an Americans episode without her. The Millers will probably keep her away from most of season three , but at least we can hope for a handful of guest appearances to look forward to.

Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones

She may not have stuck around for very long, but Rigg's Olenna sure set a whole bunch of events in motion after her actions at the Purple Wedding, didn't she? In the episodes she was there for, Rigg delivered the kind of crackling verbal exchanges — with Margaery; with Tywin; with Brienne — that characterized the best of her season three appearances.

Lisa Kudrow, Scandal

Re-teaming with her The Comeback producing partner Dan Bucatinsky, Kudrow made for quite the dynamic featured performer in the middle of the Scandal season. As a candidate for President, momentarily reaping the benefits of Olivia Pope's wise/compromised counsel, Kudrow eschewed the comedy chops that had served her so well throughout her career and instead summoned up some righteous feminist fury. A perfect fit for a high-pitched soap like Scandal.

Constance Zimmer, The Newsroom

Zimmer could also be tapped for her work on the buzzy Netflix hit House of Cards, but the better performance was given on The Newsroom, where she managed to give enough of a hard time to John Gallagher Jr.'s snarky know-it-all on the Romney campaign trail to get most viewers to cross party lines in their appreciation.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.