Brian Cox Doesn’t Deserve a Lead Actor Emmy for the Final Season of “Succession”

His character died in episode 3 this season. Is that really a "lead" role?

Brian Cox attends the HBO Max premiere of "Succession" at Academia de Cine on March 29, 2023 in Madrid, Spain.
Brian Cox attends the HBO Max premiere of "Succession" at Academia de Cine on March 29, 2023 in Madrid, Spain.

The nominations for the 2023 Emmy Awards have been announced, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, the final season of Succession leads the pack with a whopping 27 nods. Perhaps a little more surprising, however, is the fact that the show has made Emmy history with its three nominations — for Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin and Brian Cox — in the Lead Actor in a Drama Series category, marking the first time that three actors from a single series have been nominated in the category.

Does Cox really deserve a Lead Actor Emmy for his final season as Logan Roy, though? Save for a few brief moments where his character is called up on video screens post-mortem, Cox is really only in three out of the season’s 10 episodes — and in one of those episodes, he’s playing a corpse. Strong and Culkin, on the other hand, both spent the entirety of the final season turning in all-time great performances as their characters grappled with the loss of their father while also looking to tank the planned sale of his company and jockeying for position as co-interim CEOs. How can we possibly say that Cox put in the same amount of work when he was dead by episode 3?

Of course, that’s not to say that Coz didn’t make the most of the limited screen time he had in Succession‘s final season, and his work in seasons 1 through 3 absolutely deserved to be nominated in the Lead Actor category. (Strong beat him to win the category in both 2020 and 2021. Last year, they both lost to Lee Jung-jae of Squid Game.) It’s understandable that producers would want to take advantage of their one last shot to get Cox an Emmy for Succession, but to be frank, he wasn’t a lead character this year. Why not bump him to Supporting Actor, or more realistically, Guest Actor?

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The Emmys don’t have any real rules about what constitutes a “lead actor.” The only clarification in their official rulebook states that “It is the decision of the entrant whether to enter as a lead, supporting or guest performer, however, only performers appearing in less than 50% of the eligible episodes can submit in the Guest Performer categories.” Cox certainly qualifies for the Guest category under that rule, and he has a much better shot in that category than he does competing against his co-stars Matthew Macfadyen (who played Tom), Alan Ruck (who played Connor) and Nicholas Braun (who played Greg) in the Supporting Actor category or against Culkin and Strong in the Lead Actor category.

However, it would be fitting, in a way, if he did manage to eke out a win. Wouldn’t we all love to see the Roy sons overshadowed by their father one last time because he couldn’t bring himself to step aside and allow them to thrive on their own?

We’ll have to wait until Sept. 18 to see what happens. The Emmys will air at 8 p.m. EST on FOX that night.

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