‘The Patient’: Will Steve Carell win long overdue first Emmy for his most sympathetic role?

You might think that Steve Carell must have won an Emmy by now, but remarkably he hasn’t. “The Office” notoriously never won a single acting award from the TV academy, despite winning Best Comedy Series in 2006. Will FX on Hulu’s “The Patient” finally get him the trophy he’s had to wait almost two decades for?

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Carell earned six straight Emmy nominations for Best Comedy Actor (2006-2011). But he didn’t win any of those. He lost once to Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”), then once to Ricky Gervais (“Extras”), twice to Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”), and twice to Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”). His last loss in 2011 was especially surprising because he was being considered for his farewell season on the show and entered as his episode submission the emotional “Goodbye Michael.”

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After he departed “The Office,” it was almost a decade before he earned his next Emmy nomination, this time as a dramatic actor. In 2020 he contended for Best Drama Actor for his role as a disgraced TV host on “The Morning Show.” By then he’d more than proved his versatility as an actor, having earned an Oscar nom a few years earlier for playing the homicidal John du Pont in “Foxcatcher” (2014). But that Emmy went to Jeremy Strong (“Succession”).

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Perhaps he didn’t win Emmys for those roles because those characters weren’t the most sympathetic. His Michael Scott in “The Office” could be oblivious and insensitive, and his Mitch Kessler in “The Morning Show” was guilty of repeated sexual misconduct. But if that was a problem before, it won’t be one now. In “The Patient” he plays one of his most sympathetic roles, Dr. Alan Strauss, a psychiatrist kidnapped by a serial killer who is trying to control his violent urges.

“The Patient,” of which Carell is also an executive producer, already earned him a nomination from the Screen Actors Guild. That’s significant because those awards combine lead and supporting TV performers, making their categories much more competitive. And the guild is an industry peer group just like the TV academy that presents the Emmys. As of this writing Carell ranks seventh in our Emmy predictions for Best Movie/Limited Actor with 22/1 odds, so he’s on the bubble for a nom. But if he makes the cut, he might have to face off against a serial killer just like he does in “The Patient.” The current front-runner in the race is Evan Peters (“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”). Can Carell beat the odds?

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