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The 2014 Emmy nominations ballots were due on Friday, which means it's time to decide whose names we'd like to hear called on Thursday, July 10 when the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences announces the shows and actors who're officially in the running for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

I asked some of my fellow TV.com staffers to join me in choosing our dream nominees, and after hours of internal debates and monologues that would make even Scrubs' JD tell us to shut up already, we've boldly narrowed down our picks—and as you'll see at the bottom of this page, we're prepared to defend them, too!

We started out with the comedy categories, revealing our selections for Supporting Actress, Supporting ActorLead ActressLead Actor, and Comedy Series, and now we're working our way through the drama categories; we've already highlighted our picks for Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, and Lead Actress, and today we're setting our sights on TV's leading men.


Editors' Note: You may notice that some of our nominees don't match up with the official Emmy ballots. That's not a mistake; we've taken a few liberties because we're only "dreaming" about the 10 "major" categories, and we didn't want to leave out deserving performers based simply on their submission strategies and our coverage plans. In some cases you may see folks from the miniseries and guest-star races in our lead and supporting wish lists.




PLEAD YOUR CASE

WHY MADS MIKKELSEN: It's difficult to choose one particular aspect of Mikklesen's performance as Hannibal Lecter to sum up why he's so good, good enough to have largely displaced Anthony Hopkins' ownership of the role. It could be his ability to deliver huge lies and half-truths as psychoanalysis in a way that ensorcells viewers as much it would Will Graham. It could be his stillness, or the micro-expressions that betray a monster who's worried about ripping his person suit. It could be his ability to infuse that monster with a warped sense of compassion and tenderness, even if the compassion and tenderness feel like the traits of a well-behaved predator. Or it could be, as Season 2 amply demonstrated, that Mikklesen is a skilled comedian, underplaying certain campy lines so that they're not even campy until you stop to think about them ("You can slice the ginger.") and finding utter delight in Hannibal's machinations ("Eat your nose."). Or maybe it's just all of the above. — Noel Kirkpatrick

WHY MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY: While Mr. Alright Alright Alright's Oscar-winning turn in Dallas Buyer's Club was the epitome of a Hollywood Movie Star performance—body transformation and all—his work on HBO's engrossing murder mystery True Detective was, in many ways, more of a challenge, and ultimately more impressive. Amid all the memes, the Yellow Kings, and the flat circles, McConaughey managed to portray a very weird (and sometimes underwritten and sometimes severely overwritten) character across multiple years spanning just eight episodes without ever losing the thread of Rust Cohle's troubled essence. From the dirty old hippie cutting up Lone Star cans to the Sons of Anarchy cast-off undercover biker on all the cocaine, Rust certainly took True Detective viewers by the throat, and a large amount of the credit for that belongs to McConaughey, who legitimately acted his butt off in the role. — Cory Barker


Who would YOU nominate for Lead Actor in a Drama?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/18/2016

Season 68 : Episode 1

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Peter Dinklage-Game of Thrones
Matthew Rhys- The Americans
Josh Charles- The Good Wife
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Hugh Dancy- Hannibal
Bryan Cranston- Breaking Bad
Mads Mikkelsen- Hannibal
Martin Freeman- Fargo
Benedict Cumberbatch- Sherlock
Damian Lewis- Homeland
Billy Bob Thornton- Fargo

And I know people are constantly sticking to the notion that there isn't or can't be a lead in Game of Thrones, I'd still like to see Peter Dinklage nominated for the lead part because for me the show's dead without him, not to mention he's fucking incredible.
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Has any of you five ever heard about a guy named Kevin Spacey?
Apparently, he's an actor. He played in a small unknown production called House of Cards, check it out, maybe you may appreciate it a little.
:bitchplease:
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You mean this House of Cards?
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It was sarcasm, no wonder a sherlocked doesn't get it :*
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Yeah, no, I got it.
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This is a tough one. This is the dream nomination, so I would like to pay no attention to what category the actors have submitted to. If I could have my way, True Detective and Fargo would both be considered miniseries, and Sherlock a series of made-for-TV movies. That way the "lead actor in a miniseries or a movie" category would include many of the names that appear on other people's lists for "lead actor in a drama series". I would end up with these two lists:

Miniseries or a movie:

Matthew McConaughey
Woody Harrelson
Martin Freeman
Billy Bob Thornton
Benedict Cumberbatch
(+one more, presumably from something I haven't seen)

Drama:

Bryan Cranston
Matthew Rhys
Jeff Bridges
Jon Hamm
Damian Lewis
Michael Emerson

I would also like to mention Michael Sheen, Timothy Olyphant, Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Charlie Hunnam and Travis Fimmel.

Now the problem is that the True Detective actors have submitted to this race too. So I should probably make a list that takes that into account. But if I include one or both of them in the drama category, I would have to remove one or two from the second list above, and I'm not sure which ones. Definitely not Bryan Cranston or Matthew Rhys. Jeff Bridges would probably be even harder to replace than Matthew Rhys, so he needs to stay on the list too. I can't imagine seasons 1-2 of Homeland without Damian Lewis. Season 3 had problems, but one of the biggest was that it wasn't more about Brody. Damian Lewis was certainly very good in all his scenes.

I'm not a huge fan of Mad Men, but can you imagine what that show would be with a lesser actor than Jon Hamm in that spot? I think he should have more credit for his performance there, and Damian Lewis has already won twice. If I have to remove one of them, it will be Damian Lewis.

I also can't imagine anyone taking Michael Emerson's spot on Person of interest. But is he as irreplaceable as Woody Harrelson or Matthew McConaughey?

This is ridiculously hard. I'm not even sure who from True Detective that I want to add to the list the most. Matthew McConaughey has been getting a lot more attention for his performance, but I'm not sure he did his part any better than Woody Harrelson. It's just that he his character was more of a character. Woody was fantastic too.

I'm starting to get irritated at the True Detective guys for submitting in the wrong category. Should I include them both, and move Lewis and Emerson off it? Should I remove Hamm instead of Emerson, just because his show isn't nearly as entertaining as Person of interest. But you know what? I kind of feel that way about True Detective too. It was good, but it was a bit too slow.

Maybe I should just include one of the True Detective guys. But which one? Maybe I shouldn't include any of them. Aaaghh...I can't sit here and think about it all day. Bleep this, I'll just make a list of eight people. This is the dream nomination anyway.

Bryan Cranston
Matthew Rhys
Jeff Bridges
Jon Hamm
Damian Lewis
Michael Emerson
Matthew McConaughey
Woody Harrelson

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LOL, I called Jeff Daniels "Jeff Bridges" and no one complained. I guess my post was too long to read.
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(In Jack Bauer's voice:) Dammit!

I forgot Kevin Spacey. That makes this even harder. I guess my list has nine names now.
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I'd go with Mads and this is why:
Adding to what Noel very aptly said and his use of "ensorcells" which denotes a superior education and a great mind, it is the sheer work as an actor that the Dane put into achieving these effects and the excellent, nay , the perfect timing of when to use these effects. It is not enough to master the use of the micro-expressions and the effect of just the right inflection to a word that Mads has down to a pat; but it is that he was able to take over the role,as it is well said, to one of the greatest actors of our times, Sir Anthony. All these were mentioned, yes, but it would be helpful to stress that when Mads was first announced for the role, very very few fans of the novels and some of the movies would have bet on him.
As for McC I am happy he is getting the recognition for his outstanding effort in True Detective. It is clear to all that he genuinely cares about the project and has also put a lot of work on how to render him alive. It is extremely rare, as Cory somewhat alludes to, that an actor is four dimensional in playing a part to the extent Matt was in this role; he was able to convey rage and compassion, obsessiveness with spiritual questing to a degree that most of us will live in our collective viewers psyche for a lifetime.
What separates them is a je ne sais quoi that Mads has over Matt, perhaps a Scandinavian distance that the American actor was not able to achieve with the magnificent Rust Cohl.
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Aden Young (Rectify)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
Martin Freeman (Fargo)
Woody Harrelson (True Detective)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
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Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
Martin Freeman (Fargo)
Mads Mikkelson (Hannibal)
Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

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Bryan Cranston, Peter Dinklage, Martin Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Dancy, Woody Harrelson
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I'd like to see anyone on the list but Bryan Cranston so I can watch everyone lose their shit.
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Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Martin Freeman (Fargo)
Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex)
Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
Aden Young (Rectify)

I also wouldn't mind seeing Freddie Highmore get nominated for Bates Motel
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These dudes:

1. Matthew Rhys -'The Americans' - (Phillip Jennings)
2. Matthew McConoughey- 'True Detective' - (Rust Cohle) He loves this character so much he deserves another party to attend for it.
3. Erik Knudsen - 'Continuum' ('Alec Sadler) Saw his name on the list and and said he may be the longest shot on the board but he really shouldn't be. His performance is something that makes 'Continuum' not your average time travel tale on television. Nominate 'Alec' or 'Scar Alec' either way......
4. Tom Riley - 'DaVinci's Demons' (Leonardo DaVinci) - He's is fantastic. He took his show and got somewhere only one other show - 'Spartacus' made it to on this relatively new player Starz. He deserves nomination but won't even be in the conversation b/c Emmys suck.
5. Steve Buscemi- 'Boardwalk Empire' (Eli 'Knucky'Thomspson) The show had an excellent season and this show doesn't work unless Buscemi's performance is keeping it moving along.
6. Antony Starr - 'Banahee' (???? koa 'Lucas Hood)- Call me crazy or biased because the show is the most criminally underrated drama that I love but ladies and gentlemen I give you the lead that can beat some guy within an inch of his life, get beat to within an inch of his, who will always do whatever is necessary for those he loves,and who all the ladies (and most of the men) want to have sex with. He is quiet and you can see the soul stirring behind his eyes that makes characters that come in contact with want to save him. He used to be a thief, he has a crew we love.- hes so very very watchable in this role in this town they invented called 'Banshee. '2 seasons in and they still haven't told us who he is. This actor that makes all of this seem way too easy. We 'Bansheeeeeee's love this show for many reason but number 1 for many of the faithful - Antony Starr.

HM: Toby Regbo - 'Reign' (Prince Francis) - I unfairly presumed, based on the fact that he looks more like he stepped out of an advertisement than onto a stage but his portrayal of this French royal is so quietly brilliant and when given the 'big moments' just pulls you into his performance. He knows how to give his co-stars room in scenes. He was quite excellent in his scenes especially those with his wonderful lead.

HM: Jon Hamm 'Mad Men' Donald Draper He's back.


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Banshee needs some Emmy love!
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I wouldn't mind seeing it get some. Ivana Miličevič and Hoon Lee are the strongest contenders in my opinion. Antony Starr is great too, and I can't complain about Lily Simmons or Ulrich Thomsen.
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This season Starr, Milicivec,, Demetrius Grosse (RIP), Lili Simmons, and Trieste Kelly Dunn all were excellent with a lot of heavy lifting story wise. Starr only one who submitted as lead, - But hey all submitted as did Ulrich and Frankie Faison. Milicivec should have been nominated for best actress last year (as should have Keri Russell as should have Maslani of course; none were.) She's trying in supporting this season. Its too much to hope she'd get it. Geno Segers and Odette Anabelle had memorable quest turns as well both will be back next year. Segers; 'Chayton LIittlestone; was enormous, intelligent and the the only person who 'Hood' hasn't even scratched. Plus he got the awesome post script in the finale. Wrong place but 'BANSHEEEEEE!'.
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While @No1Slayerette likes to see who of the characters of True Detective and Hannibal is the best, I think the votes will be between Bryan Cranston and McConaughey. But I'll be honest with you, I did not watch Hannibal.

The characters they played were completely different and although both are somewhat estranged from the real world, the way they played it was inherent to that. Both were brilliant but incomparable.

So, if it would be between the two of them, who should win?

Poll
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Of course Bryan Cranston..
MccConaughey, Martin Freeman, Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy deserved too.
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McConaughey got the oscar so he is good for accolades. Even though he was fantastic in True Detective. For me out of all of those great performances I have to go with Matthew Rhys. His performance this season was top notch. He had a lot to work with and knocked it out of the park each time.
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It's a shame that True Detective won't be running multiple seasons. McConaughey deserves an award, and Woody Harrelson was great too, but it just has to be Bryan Cranston for his final season as THE best acted character to date.

I also loved Freeman's performance, but he made my belly laugh more than my jaw drop, so can't give him the best actor in the drama category over the folks mentioned above.
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Toughest decision ever? Maybe?
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), both leads for Hannibal and both leads for True Detective and Martin Freeman (Fargo).
That's a lot of people...I know...but have you watched those AMAZING miniseries (Fargo, True Detective) ? I did.

I think it is a clever way to reinvent TV. I say no more 22-zillion-mindless eps, please. I prefer short 10-12 eps-seasons and 5 seasons is my absolute max.
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I agree with Tim 100%
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My list:
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Travis Fimmel (VIkings)
Martin Freeman (Fargo)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
Timothy Olyphant (Justified)
Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel) (assuming the airing dates make it eligible)
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Matthew McConaughey - True Detective (For so many years everyone thought, probably rightfully, that he was an awful actor. What a turnaround these past few years have been for him!)
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
Hugh Dancy - Hannibal
Billy Bob Thornton - Fargo
Michael Emerson - Person of Interest
Aden Young - Rectify

Miller in Elementary is nothing special.
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I can't believe i forgot about Michael Emerson.
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I am surprised you guys gave Martin Freeman thumbs up but not Billy Bob Thornton. I think he is better.

Here is my list

Billy Bob Thornton (Fargo)
Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
James Spader (The Blacklist)
Timothy Olyphant (Justified)
Johnny Lee Miller (Elementary)

Sorry I am not as hype up with True Detectives.
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I would argue Billy Bob Thornton was a supporting character. Ya, he probably had just as much screen time as Lester and Mollie, but still.

That said, I agree Thornton was a hoot as Malvo.
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Nobody mentioned him from those nominated for supporting. I checked, so I shall put him here :-)
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Freeman and Thornton have both submitted for lead actor in a miniseries or a movie. Freeman is also in the race for supporing actor in a miniseries or a movie (for Sherlock).

Is Thornton lead or supporting? It's close I guess. I'm inclined to consider them both leads.

I have never been really impressed by Martin Freeman before. He's an adequate Watson and and adequate Bilbo, but he was a fantastic Lester Nygaard.

I have also not been really impressed by Colin Hanks before, but he was brilliant here. I hope he gets a supporting nomination.
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Ok so they will be in the mini series stuff! Thanks for the clarification. Oh and I haven't been impressed by MF or BBT and Fargo made me see them in a different light. I am now impressed, they were both fantastic performancesz.
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Yeh I wondered that as well. Billy Bob Thorton was just magnificent as Lorne Malvo! :)
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Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Rhys, Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Woody Harrelson
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- Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
- Matthew Rys (The Americans)
- Mads Mikkelson (Hannibal)
- Peter Krause (Parenthood)
- Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
- Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
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Thanks @noelrk for giving Jonny Lee Miller some love! He truly is becoming an outstanding performer and deserves a little recognition.
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Joel Kinnaman
Woody Harrelson
Kevin Spacey
Gabriel Macht
Peter Dinklage
Matthew McConaughey
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Your lists miss Peter Dinklage, tv. com
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Check the supporting actors category.
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Ah ok, thank you, but I don't think he deserves to be a supporting actor.
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This is a dream nomination, so if you want to include him on your list of lead actors, go ahead. I think it's reasonable to consider him a lead and also reasonable to consider him supporting. He's more of a lead than anyone else on that show, but compared to the lead characters on other shows, he doesn't get a lot of screen time.
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Staff
Yep, he's supporting. http://www.tv.com/shows/the-primetime-emmy-awards/community/post/if-tvcom-ran-the-emmys-our-dream-nominees-for-supporting-actor-in-a-drama-140311215669/
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So has it been announced that Fargo is being submitted for Emmy consideration as a Drama and not Miniseries?
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The actors are competing in the "miniseries or a movie" category. The show is competing in the "miniseries" category.
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My picks are:

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
Martin Freeman (Fargo)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock)
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Lead actor in a drama series :
Hugh Dancy
Mads Mikkelsen
Matthew McConaughey
Peter Dinklage
As for the 2 others, I don't know : any actor in Game Of Thrones...
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Cranston and McConaughey are basically (and rightfully) locks.
I would add Jon Hamm and Matthew Rhys.
The final two places... very difficult, so many great actors! I hopw not to see Kevin Spacey or Jeff Daniels though (fat chance, but still...).

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There's a lot of love for the two male lead duo's of Hannibal and True Detective, so I'm wondering, what if it came down to the four of them? Who would people pick to win?

Poll

I'd pick Dancy, myself.
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Staff
Problem is that the Hannibal dudes might be more deserving, but they won't even get nominated so it's a waste.
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Thanks for the survey. It was a tough choice for me because I enjoyed watching them all...however, I enjoyed watching Matthew the most.

I still review the scene when he was interviewing the serial killer mother...
And then there is episode 6, I think, with the last 6 minutes being so intense?
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Of those, McConaughey
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I'd choose McConaughey.
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Lead Actor in a Drama Series -
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
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Haha I totally knew Bryan Cranston was going to be on all your guys' list. If the man doesn't win the Emmy, I will lose faith in the award show altogether.
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You have faith in that award show? ^^
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I still haven't seen True Detective so don't go hatin' on me for leaving out Harrelson and McConaughey!

Mads Mikkelsen
Hugh Dancy
Matthew Rhys
Bryan Cranston
Martin Freeman
Peter Dinklage

Was Billy Bob Thornton billed as Lead Actor? If so, he belongs in there as well.
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Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
Woody Harrelson (True Detective)
Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex)
Timothy Olyphant (Justified)

I know it's never ever gonna happen, but Luke Newberry in BBC's In the Flesh is fantastic! I would give him a mention in my fantasy nominations!
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Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Timothy Dalton (Penny Dreadful)
Matthew Rhys (The Americans)
Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
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- Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)

- Kevin Spacey (House Of Cards)

- Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)

- Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)

- Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)

- James Spader (The Blacklist)
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Matthew Rhys is incredible. Makes this story credible and heartbreaking.
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I don't see as many merits as you see in Mads Mikkelsen' Hannibal myself. I could even choose Johnny Lee Miller before him as a nomination. Other than that, I think you guys got a good selection of great actors with great performances this year. I think my favourite would be Matthew Rhys from the ones I watch, but it is a tough call.

Once in a while it would be good to leave the female drama actress for last, you know, just for diversity's sake.
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Hannibal has to be represented by at least one of them because otherwise the entire thing is a farce!
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Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Dancy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Bryan Cranston, Woody Harrelson, Mads Mikkelsen.
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And i forgot about Michael Emerson.
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In no order:

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
Timothy Dalton (Penny Dreadful)
Woody Harrelson (True Detective)
Matthew McConaughey (True Detective)
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