The Emmy nominations voting has begun, and while we can predict some of the usual awards season favorites, we have a few of our own picks — first-time nominees and under-the-radar picks alike — who deserve the honor this year. We're highlighting seven of those stars with video mash-ups of their best work, for your consideration.
Walter White had already faced, and faced down, an impressive string of foes: cousins Tuco and Tio Salamanca, Emilio (the guy Jesse Pinkman and Walter melted in the bathtub), and, of course, Gustavo "Gus" Fring, one of the greatest TV villains. But after the Walter-orchestrated death of Gus, what kind of opponent could the Breaking Bad writers possibly concoct to see Walter — himself constantly driving head-on into villainy — through the end of the series?
Enter the neo-Nazis, led by the leather-jacketed psychopath known as Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen). Like most of the show's baddest breakers, Jack was pure rotten, indifferent about killing anyone, and proud of his equally psycho nephew Todd's murder of a young boy. His tattoo-covered body suggested he wasn't indifferent about his hatred of people who weren't a part of his gang.
And yet, again like most of the baddest breakers, there was something compelling about Jack, something aside from his love for Todd that was almost charming, something that made him mesmerizing to watch on a show that was 100 percent lean-in viewing, 100 percent of the time. And that came courtesy of Bowen.
Bowen, who viewers knew from roles in Lost, Kill Bill, Valley Girl, and Jackie Brown, among others, was unrecognizable to many of those fans after he dramatically altered his appearance to play Jack. He lost 20 pounds to achieve, as he told Yahoo TV last year, a "specific look that ex-convicts have. There's kind of a gray color to them, kind of a leathery feel to them. … I was essentially malnourishing myself. I got a blood test, and my vitamin D was way down, so it was kind of an idiot move, but it looks good on the character. They don't have access to great food in the penal system, so they come out with this specific hard look."
But he also brought humor and a laid-back attitude to the character, a calmness that he maintained whether he was plotting multiple deaths, carrying out murder, finding millions of dollars in cash buried in the desert, or enjoying a smoke at his bad-guy lair. The only things that rankled Bowen's Jack: the idea that his beloved "dead-eyed Opie" of a nephew (as actor Jesse Plemons memorably called his Todd character) was being ratted on by Jesse, and Walter daring to suggest Jack himself had forged a partnership with rat Jesse. Jack's uncharacteristically emotional reaction to the latter allowed Walt to, at last, get the best of his last enemy.
Need a refresher on Bowen, the scene-stealer? Check out this collection of Uncle Jack's most memorable moments. As he says, the heart wants what the heart wants, and our TV-loving hearts want Bowen's standout performance to get the TV academy recognition it deserves.
Click through this gallery to see all of our picks... and captions spoiler alert if you're not caught up on a particular show!
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