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All the Theater Stars Nominated for 2020 Emmy Awards

July 28, 2020 by Abby Bien
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It’s not the Tonys but it’ll do: this morning the 2020 Emmy nominations were announced, and a lot of theater stars got to hear their names read. To celebrate these television thespians, we took a quick look at the stage careers of a number of noms. We’d also like to say a quick thank you to the theater gods for gifting us with the chance to watch these actors onscreen while we’re in quarantine (or as we like to call it —intermission). Check out the bolded theater faves in major categories below.

Drama Series

The Crown
The creator of The Crown — Peter Morgan — is also an accomplished playwright. He wrote the West End and Broadway play The Audience (starring Helen Mirren, no big deal) as well as Frost/Nixon, which played in London and NYC before becoming a movie in 2008. There’s also a bunch of theater actors in the Netflix hit: if you’re starting your binge now, look out for Olivia Colman, Claire Foy, Helena Bonham Carter, Harry Hadden-Paton, and more.

Killing Eve
The Handmaid’s Tale
Succession
Better Call Saul
The Mandalorian
Ozark
Stranger Things

Lead Actress, Drama

Laura Linney, Ozark
She casually has 4 Tony Award nominations, she sold out her one-woman Broadway show My Name Is Lucy Barton faster than we can say My Name Is Lucy Barton, and it’s a treat every time she’s onscreen or stage. She’s Laura Linney.

Zendaya, Euphoria
Okay so she hasn’t been on Broadway — yet. But we love Zendaya and wanted to talk about her because we’re human. Plus, this gives us an excuse to rewatch her sing Pasek and Paul (Dear Evan Hansen) in The Greatest Showman which is a very theater-y thing to do.

Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Olivia Colman, The Crown

Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve

Lead Actor, Drama

Billy Porter, Pose
Before he was a red carpet icon and a screen star in Pose — Billy Porter was a theater icon. He’s been taking our breath away onstage for a long time: in Kinky Boots, Angels in America, Little Shop of Horrors, Grease, and more. Lucky for us, his theater magic doesn’t disappear when you’re watching him on TV.

Brian Cox, Succession
Brian Cox is very good at playing powerful people, no matter the medium. Just this past Broadway season he portrayed President Lyndon B. Johnson in The Great Society; he’s also been a West End favorite for over 30 years. A true thespian if we’ve ever seen one.

Jeremy Strong, Succession
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Steve Carell, The Morning Show

Supporting Actress, Drama

Meryl Streep, Big Little Lies
Unsurprisingly, Meryl Streep has spent a lot of time throughout the years onstage, on Broadway, at The Public Theater, and even in free performances at Shakespeare in the Park. In 1976, she was nominated for a Tony for 27 Wagons Full of Cotton because there’s not one award that Meryl Streep has never been nominated for. That’s the rule.

Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale
Helena Bonham Carter, The Crown
Laura Dern, Big Little Lies
Julia Garner, Ozark
Thandie Newton, Westworld
Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve
Sarah Snook, Succession

Supporting Actor, Drama

Billy Crudup, The Morning Show
It’s just the truth — Billy Crudup steals every scene he’s in. The stage is no exception. He’s been nominated for three Tony Awards, has won one for The Coast of Utopia: Part 1 – Voyage, and gave a one-man performance in Harry Clarke that this author (hello!) must mention at least once in every conversation she has until the end of time.

Kieran Culkin, Succession
The stage has taken Kieran Culkin around the world. He’s performed off-Broadway and on Broadway in New York, on the West End, at the renowned Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, and at the literal Sydney Opera House in Australia. How cool that all of those places have gotten to see his skill in-person?

Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul
Matthew Macfadyen, Succession
Nicholas Braun, Succession
Mark Duplass, The Morning Show
Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid’s Tale
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld

Guest Actress, Drama

Cherry Jones, Succession
Cherry Jones’s first theater credit is from 1983; that’s how much of a legend she is. She’s a five-time Tony Award nominee and she’s starred in everything from Angels in America to Macbeth to The Glass Menagerie. Plain and simple: she’s one of the best stage (and screen) actors we’ve got.

Phylicia Rashad, This Is Us
As much as Phylicia Rashad is Clair Huxtable, she’s theater too. In 2004, she became the first Black actress to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in A Raisin in the Sun. She’s also starred in Into the Woods, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and so many more incredible shows.

Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away with Murder

In 2013 — at the age of 89 — Cicely Tyson won a Tony Award for her lead performance in the revival of The Trip to Bountiful. Her first Broadway credit? For Jolly’s Progress in 1959. There’s only one word for Tyson’s career: epic.

Harriet Walker, Succession

Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale
Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black

Guest Actor, Drama

Andrew Scott, Black Mirror
Andrew Scott is way more than the Hot Priest from Fleabag or the standout from this Black Mirror episode. He’s been in countless productions in London; just this past West End season he starred in Present Laughter. And this week — he’s starring in a new play Three Kings at the Old Vic. Yes, you read that right. But don’t worry: the theater will be empty and live-streamed instead.

Martin Short, The Morning Show

Martin Short’s theater career has been anything but short (see what we did there). He’s been on Broadway in Neil Simon shows, has won a Tony Award and been nominated for another, and was actually the original Leo Bloom in The Producers in Los Angeles before the hit was ever staged in New York City.

James Cromwell, Succession
Jason Bateman, The Outsider
Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us
Giancarlo Esposito, The Mandalorian

Comedy Series

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel feels like a theatrical performance in and of itself, doesn’t it? That’s not especially surprising, considering the show is filled to the brim with theater pros. Mrs. Maisel herself Rachel Brosnahan has done shows at Roundabout Theatre Company, Steppenwolf, and New York Theatre Workshop. Michael Zegen starred in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice this past season with The New Group in NYC (he’s been in a bunch of other NYC faves too), Tony Shalhoub is a Tony Award winner for The Band’s Visit, Luke Kirby led Judgment Day at New York’s Park Avenue Armory last year. Oh and we can’t forget about the Broadway faves who pop up every episode or so; look out for Zachary Levi, Daniel J. Watts, Brandon Uranowitz, Laura Osnes, and more.

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Dead to Me
The Good Place
Insecure
The Kominsky Method
Schitt’s Creek
What We Do in the Shadows

Lead Actress, Comedy

Christina Applegate, Dead to Me
We know and love Christina Applegate from the screen but it’s always fun to remember her Broadway bow in Sweet Charity — a performance that earned her a Tony Award nomination. Sitcoms, dramedies, drama, musicals: she can seriously do it all.

Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Linda Cardellini, Dead to Me
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
Issa Rae, Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

Supporting Actor, Comedy

William Jackson Harper, The Good Place
Of course the actor who plays a philosopher is a super talented playwright and stage performer. It just makes sense. In 2018, William Jackson Harper’s debut play Travisville premiered at Ensemble Studio Theater in New York. The year before that he starred alongside another screen-and-stage fave Zoe Kazan in her play After the Blast at Lincoln Center.

Sterling K. Brown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Before being (very casually) nominated for two Emmy Awards this year, Sterling K. Brown was already a hero in our hearts. Literally. He played the role of Hero in The Public Theater’s Father Comes Home From the Wars back in 2014. In fact, Brown is a bit of a Public Theater staple. He’s starred in two Shakespeare in the Park performances throughout the years.

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn 99
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Mahershala Ali, Ramy
Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek
Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

Guest Actress, Comedy

Bette Midler, The Politician
We mean, it’s Bette Midler. Bette! Midler! Hello! Dolly! An icon in every sense of the word. And that’s all there is to it.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Saturday Night Live
It’s no wonder Phoebe Waller-Bridge was a natural on Saturday Night Live because she’s got plenty of practice performing live in front of thousands. Before Fleabag was a television show, it was a sold-out, one-woman sensation of a play. Depending on where you live you might be able to stream the National Theatre performance of the show right this very minute. Trust us — it’s worth the watch.

Angela Bassett, A Black Lady Sketch Show
Maya Rudolph, “The Good Place”
Maya Rudolph, “Saturday Night Live”
Wanda Sykes, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

Guest Actor, Comedy

Adam Driver, Saturday Night Live
If you don’t already know how passionate Adam Driver is about stage acting, it’s time to watch his TED Talk. Not only has he created a nonprofit that celebrates the power theater holds, but he’s also an incredible thespian himself. His most recent role was in Broadway’s Burn This opposite Keri Russell just last year. The performance earned him a Tony Award nomination.

Luke Kirby, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Fred Willard, Modern Family
Eddie Murphy, Saturday Night Live
Dev Patel, Modern Love
Brad Pitt, Saturday Night Live

Limited Series

Mrs. America
Not only does Mrs. America have so many of history’s stars featured, it’s got a lot of the stage’s too. Rose Byrne starred in Medea at Brooklyn Academy of Music this year, Cate Blanchett has been in more shows on both sides of the pond to count (and she has has a Tony nom for The Present), Uzo Aduba has been center stage in L.A. and New York, Margo Martindale is a Tony nominee, John Slattery is a Broadway fixture, and both Sarah Paulson and Tracey Ullman have been onstage a number of times. And if all of that star power isn’t enough for you theater peeps — Norm Lewis, Bobby Cannavale, and Roberta Colindrez are all guest stars.

Little Fires Everywhere
Unbelievable
Unorthodox
Watchmen

TV Movie

American Son
It doesn’t really get more screen-meets-stage than this. American Son is a play that was on Broadway in 2018 and this movie is a near replica of that production. It stars the original Broadway cast — Kerry Washington, Tony nom Jeremy Jordan, and theater veterans Steven Pasquale and Eugene Lee. If you missed it onstage, this version is just as powerful and relevant today.

Bad Education

El Camino
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend
Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings

Lead Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series

Cate Blanchett, Mrs. America
Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere
Shira Haas, Unorthodox
Octavia Spencer, Self Made
Regina King, Watchmen

Lead Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series

Jeremy Pope, Hollywood
We don’t mean to pick favorites, but this nomination was pretty darn exciting for us theater fans. Jeremy Pope received two Tony Award nominations in 2019 for his performances in Ain’t Too Proud and Choir Boy. That’s insane! Two nominations in one night! A legend. Even more legend-y? His role in Hollywood is the first television job he’s ever had. We bow down.

Hugh Jackman, Bad Education
Before there was Hollywood’s Hugh Jackman, there was the theater’s Hugh Jackman. He’s spent over 20 years on the stage in Australia, on the West End, in Canada, and all the way to Broadway. He’s played Gaston, Billy Bigelow, and himself (yes, himself) on the stage. And he’s set to star in a revival of The Music Man in 2021 with the Sutton Foster.

Jeremy Irons, Watchmen
Paul Mescal, Normal People
Mark Ruffalo, I Know This Much Is True

Supporting Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series

Holland Taylor, Hollywood
It feels like Holland Taylor is in everything and we love her for it. Her first Broadway credit was in 1965 for The Devils and her most recent role was in The Front Page revival in 2016. In between those two productions she’s been busy adding dozens of roles to her resume including her titular, Tony-nominated performance in Ann in 2013.

Toni Collette, Unbelievable
From A Little Night Music to King Lear to The Wild Party to The Realistic Joneses: what can’t Toni Collette do? We have to be honest, we didn’t know how practiced she was onstage before this morning, but it makes complete sense! She’s Toni Collette. Of course she has a Tony nomination. Of course she’s as perfect onstage as she is onscreen.

Uzo Aduba, Mrs. America
Margo Martindale, Mrs. America
Tracey Ullman, Mrs. America
Jean Smart, Watchmen

Supporting Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series

Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
When you think of Tituss Burgess, it’s understandable if Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is your first thought. But your second? It’s got to be Sebastian. His performance in The Little Mermaid is truly iconic, as are all of his theater credits, including Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls and The Witch in Into the Woods.

Jim Parsons, Hollywood
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Watchmen
Jovan Adepo, Watchmen
Louis Gossett Jr., Watchmen
Dylan McDermott, Hollywood

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance

Leslie Odom Jr., Central Park
It’s Tony Award winner Leslie Odom Jr. of that little musical Hamilton as an animated character. We don’t really know what to say about this other than it’s more perfect than you can possibly imagine.

Hank Azaria, The Simpsons
Maya Rudolph, Big Mouth
Wanda Sykes, Crank Yankers
Taika Waititi, The Mandalorian
Nancy Cartwright, The Simpsons

Click to see a full list of the 2020 Emmy nominees.