The political thriller Homeland has won big at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, taking the prize for best drama and adding acting gongs for both its leads, Damian Lewis and Claire Danes.
Homeland’s debut season was the surprise winner in the best drama category, upsetting both Mad Men, which was aiming to win for the fifth year running, and the last season of the highly acclaimed Breaking Bad.
Lewis’s triumph as best actor was in the face of strong competition from Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston. “I was quite convinced that he’d be walking up again tonight,” Lewis said.
Also nominated for best actor was Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville, while in the best actress category Bonneville’s co-star Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary Crawley in the British period saga, also lost to the mighty Homeland as Danes took the gong.
“We’re delighted and thrilled and just a little startled,” Danes said of Homeland’s several awards.
Downton did win an acting prize, however: Maggie Smith was named best supporting actress in a drama, a category that also saw a nomination for Joanne Froggatt’s portrayal of the housemaid Anna Bates.
Other Downton stars nominated but failing to win were Brendan Coyle and Jim Carter, both of whom were overlooked in favour of Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul for best supporting actor in a drama.
BBC1’s smash hit drama Sherlock did not manage to secure an Emmy for either of its lead actors. Benedict Cumberbatch was nominated for best actor in a miniseries or movie, but lost out to Kevin Costner for his role in Hatfield & McCoys. The History Channel drama, about a 19th-century feud between two families, also produced the winner of best supporting actor in a miniseries or movie: Tom Berenger, who won ahead of Sherlock’s Martin Freeman.
Sherlock itself also failed to win best miniseries or movie, with the award going to the Sarah Palin bio-drama Game Change. Its star, Julianne Moore, won best actress in the category, joking: “I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down.”
Modern Family was named best comedy, with supporting actor prizes for Julie Bowen and Eric Stonestreet. Lead actor prizes for comedy went to Jon Cryer of Two and a Half Men and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who took best actress for her role as the Vice-President of the United States in Armando Iannucci’s political satire Veep.
The biggest ovation of the night went to Michael J Fox, the actor who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 21 years ago, as he presented the final award.