Thandie Newton is now on her second Emmy nomination, again for playing robot Maeve Millay on HBO’s “Westworld.” Last year she was the odds-on favorite to win Best Drama Supporting Actress on her very first Emmy nomination, but to the surprise of many ended up losing to Ann Dowd (“The Handmaid’s Tale”). This year she’s up against former nominees Dowd, Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”), Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones”), last year’s Guest Actress winner Alexis Bledel (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), and first-timers Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”) and Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”). Can Newton take out her competition on her second go-round?
“Westworld” dominated the 2018 Emmy nominations with 21 bids total, which is only one down from last year and one less than “Game of Thrones,” which leads the pack with 22. Not to mention, it grew in acting nominations, from four last year to five this year. Besides Newton, Evan Rachel Wood returned as a lead actress, Jeffrey Wright moved up from supporting to lead, Ed Harris joined Wright in lead after being snubbed in supporting last year, and Jimmi Simpson was able to break into the guest actor race. That’s good news for Newton, because it shows that there’s significant support for “Westworld” in the acting branch. In an overcrowded field of seven nominees, Newton would only need about 15% of the votes to prevail.
In the second season, fan favorite Maeve continued her quest to find her daughter. In Newton’s episode submission “Akane No Mai,” Maeve’s storyline is the focal point as she is captured and taken into Shogun World. Once again, Newton proves that she’s an exceptional actress with incredible range and is up for the challenge. Not only is the episode physically demanding, with her character among many other things initiating a Samurai massacre, but she also has to almost exclusively speak in a very particular Japanese dialect, which she pulls off seamlessly. While episodes don’t necessarily matter anymore, she might benefit from her submission having aired just three months ago, so it might still be fresh in voters’ minds.
There is reason to question whether there is any leftover goodwill from last year, since she wasn’t able to prevail despite seeming like a clear front-runner and coming off “Westworld”‘s buzzy first season. However, in recent years we’ve actually seen quite a few sophomore winners. Recent examples include Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife,” 2011) and Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black,” 2016), both for drama lead actress after they lost on their first nominations for their respective shows.
Newton also has the perfect I.O.U., being an actress who’s been in the industry for a long time, but really hasn’t received the recognition she deserves. For the first season, she won at Critics’ Choice and was nominated at both the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. It is yet to be seen if that support is still there for these precursors, since Season 2 will be eligible for their 2019 ceremonies, but she was the only cast member to get nominated across the board, which is impressive. Do you think Newton will be able to battle out the tough competition this year?
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