On Sunday night, the 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will air on Fox. Long considered television’s biggest night, Emmy competition has become increasingly stiff as high-quality shows have proliferated, thanks in part to the continued expansion of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. For many actors, 2019 marks a final chance to take home a prize after years of playing a beloved character: shows including Game of Thrones and Veep recently ended their blockbuster runs. That means that stars like Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Alfie Allen and Gwendoline Christie are all looking to snag that elusive Emmy for their roles on the HBO behemoth.
Similarly, Veep‘s Anna Chlumsky is up for an award after five years with no luck; over at ABC’s Black-ish, Anthony Anderson has come up empty-handed for eight years, while Sandra Oh, nominated this year for Killing Eve, received many nominations but no prizes throughout her many years on Grey’s Anatomy. Some of this may change Sunday night, but even if it doesn’t, these famous actors are in good company, with plenty of other successful stars — like Steve Carrell, David Duchovny and Mindy Kaling — whose lauded small-screen performances failed to yield Emmys hardware.
Read on to see the famous actors who still have yet to win an Emmy Award.
After starring as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones — which just completed its final season — Harington is up for an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Actor this year. He was nominated in 2016 as a supporting actor on the show but has never won. Thrones was Harington’s breakout TV role, and the project to which he’s devoted most of his acting career so far.
This year marks Bateman‘s first Emmy nomination, for Outstanding Drama Actor in Netflix’s Ozark. He’s also nominated this year for directing in a drama series, for the Ozark episode “Reparations.” But he’s probably best known — on TV, anyway — for playing the beloved character Michael Bluth on Arrested Development over the course of five seasons (none of which panned out with an Emmy for Bateman).
The This Is Us star was also nominated in 2017 and 2018, in addition to this year, for Outstanding Drama Actor in the popular series. Ventimiglia has been gracing TV screens for awhile, growing up as a heartthrob on shows like Gilmore Girls and Heroes, but it’s only recently that the TV Academy has recognized his work.
While Porter has received a Tony for his work on Broadway, 2019 marks the Pose star and Broadway veteran’s first Emmy nomination.
Before Game of Thrones, Clarke had few notable acting credits to her name; the character of Daenerys Targaryen launched her to fame. She was nominated in 2013, 2015 and 2016 for her supporting role on Thrones, and this year she’s up for Outstanding Drama Actress for her work on the show’s final season.
Wright received her sixth Emmy nomination this year for her role as Claire Underwood on Netflix’s long-running House of Cards, where she led the series’ sixth season after Kevin Spacey was removed from the show. Wright is a household name, but before she became an Underwood was better known for her film roles, including in the classic Princess Bride. Still, Wright is not a TV newbie; she was on the 1980s series Santa Barbara.
This is not Oh’s first Emmy rodeo: thanks to Grey’s Anatomy, she was a nominee as Outstanding Drama Actress every year from 2005 through 2009. Killing Eve gave her another shot in 2018, with no luck. This year she’s up again for the same role, as well as for an SNL guest spot.
This Is Us has brought Moore her most successful TV role, and it earned her an Emmy nomination this year, for Outstanding Drama Actress.
The longtime TV and film actor was nominated in 2012 for his work on Breaking Bad. Now he’s up for a prize for his work on the prequel to that show, Better Call Saul. His TV background has been extensive, with stints on shows like Homicide, Law & Order, Revolution, Netflix’s The Get Down and Once Upon a Time.
The Game of Thrones actor received his first Emmy nod this year for his work as an emotional Theon Greyjoy in the show’s final season. Prior to Thrones, he had appeared in movies like 2007’s Atonement and had small roles on some TV series, but Theon was Allen’s big breakout.
Fellow Game of Thrones actor Coster-Waldau is up for a second time for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of conflicted knight Jaime Lannister. Coster-Waldau has been acting for awhile, although most of his pre-Thrones credits were in the movie world, not TV.
After five nominations for her work as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, this is Headey‘s last chance with that show to nab the elusive prize for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Before playing Cersei, Headey was a working actor for nearly two decades, with roles in an eclectic mix of shows and movies from a Merlin show to the action film 300.
Christie, who joined Thrones in its second season, finally got some recognition from the Emmys this year, with her first nomination for her role as Brienne of Tarth. Christie has only a few credits before Thrones, but since then has nabbed roles in the Star Wars movies and the TV series Top of the Lake.
This is Turner‘s first year with Emmy attention as well, after finishing her turn as Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones. Like many in the Thrones cast, it was her breakout role.
And the other Stark sister, Arya, also received an Emmy nomination. It’s not her first; she was also considered in 2016 for her portrayal of the young royal with a rebel streak. Arya was Williams’ first big acting credit.
Shaw got two nods this year: for Supporting Actress on Killing Eve and also for her guest role as a therapist on Fleabag. They’re the first nominations for the Irish actor, who has won Olivier awards for her work in the theater.
Cheadle has been nominated for nine Emmys over the years, for roles including his portrayal of Sammy Davis, Jr. in HBO’s The Rat Pack back in 1999 and Marty Kaan on House of Lies. Now, he’s up for Outstanding Comedy Actor for this year’s Black Monday.
The Black-ish star been nominated eight times with no wins — yet. The TV mainstay has been on shows like The Shield, Law & Order and Treme over the years.
The mastermind behind Fleabag has five nominations under her belt — one for her writing for Killing Eve in 2018, and four this year for Killing Eve and Fleabag, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
Lyonne snagged her first Emmy nomination for a guest role on Orange Is the New Black in 2014. In 2019, she picked up three nominations for Russian Doll, including Outstanding Lead Actress.
Despite his extensive acting career, Arkin has yet to take home an Emmy prize. He’s been nominated five times, going back to 1967. This year, the Oscar winner is up for Supporting Actor in the Netflix comedy The Kominsky Method.
Colman is an Oscar winner, but she has yet to take home an Emmy, despite impressive turns in TV series from Broadchurch to The Night Manager. This is just her second nomination, for her supporting actress work as the unnamed godmother in Fleabag.
The Veep supporting actress has been nominated six times, including this year, for her role as Amy, with no wins just yet. She’s also appeared on series including Hannibal and Halt and Catch Fire, but it’s the Veep role that’s been her Emmy ticket.
Despite receiving nominations every year from 2006 to 2011 for his work as Michael Scott on The Office, Carell has never won an Emmy.
Carell’s Office co-star Krasinski also got four nominations but no prizes for his portrayal of beloved office drone Jim.
Kaling, another Office actor, received nominations for her work as a writer and producer on the show — but never won.
Vergara received four nominations for her role as Gloria in Modern Family, but never got the prize.
Britton’s been nominated four times — including twice for playing the beloved character of Tami Taylor in Friday Night Lights — all for lead actress roles. However, she has yet to win.
Star Trek‘s Captain Jean-Luc Picard may be an acting legend, but he’s not an Emmy winner, even with four nominations under his belt going back to 1998.
The X-Files was a cult classic, but it didn’t result in any Emmys for Duchovny, who played Fox Mulder. He’s received four nominations over the years.
Clooney is an Oscar-winning Hollywood star, but he’s still lacking Emmy hardware. He was nominated twice in the 1990s for his leading role on ER, and again for the “Hope for Haiti Now” special in 2010, with no wins.
Lowe was nominated in 2001 for his leading role on the long-time hit The West Wing, but didn’t manage to take home the prize then, or in the ensuing years.
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