Breaking Bad, the brutal, drug-fuelled saga of an everyman’s ambition turned evil, captured its first best drama Emmy Award, denying online series House of Cards a history-making honour.
“I did not see this coming,” said Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, tipping his hat to Netflix’s political thriller House of Cards, the first digital contender for top Emmy honours.
Attention and acclaim for the AMC cable channel’s Breaking Bad has built as it nears the end of its five-season run next Sunday, with the final eight-episode arc eligible for next year’s Emmys.
Modern Family won its fourth consecutive trophy for top comedy series.
Jeff Daniels won the Emmy for best drama series actor for his portrayal of an idealistic TV anchorman in The Newsroom, with Claire Danes capturing top actress for her CIA agent in Homeland.
Daniels noted that he’d also received an age 50-plus acting honour from AARP, which represents the interests of older Americans.
“With all due respect to the AARP, this is even better,” Daniels said.
Danes, who captured her second trophy for the terrorism drama, paid tribute to one of the series’ writers, Henry Bromell, who died in March and who received a writing Emmy posthumously.
The ceremony often struck a melancholy note, with extended tributes to stars and other industry members who died in the past year.
“Well, this may be the saddest Emmys of all time but we could not be happier,” said Modern Family executive producer Steve Levitan.
The show also included upsets, defying the conventional wisdom in several categories, among them the best supporting acting comedy awards for Merritt Wever of Nurse Jackie and Tony Hale of Veep.
“This just in. Nobody in America is winning their Emmy office pool. Surprises galore,” said host Neil Patrick Harris.
Danes’ win ended hopes Scandal best actress nominee Kerry Washington would become the first African-American to win in the category.
Saturday Night Live became the most-honoured series ever with Don Roy King’s directing award Sunday; its cumulative 40 Emmys top previous record-holder Frasier.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus claimed her second consecutive best comedy actress award for Veep, with Jim Parsons again claiming the top comedy acting gong for The Big Bang Theory.
“This is so much good fortune it’s almost too much to bear,” said Louis-Dreyfus. “I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to make people laugh. It’s a joyful way to make a living.”
Parsons added to the awards he won in 2011 and 2010 for the role of a science nerd.
“My heart, oh my heart. I want you to know I’m very aware of how exceedingly fortunate I am,” he said.
Michael Douglas was honoured as best actor for his portrayal of Liberace in Behind the Candelabra, besting his co-star Matt Damon. The film also captured a top trophy as best movie or miniseries.
“This is a two-hander and Matt, you’re only as good as your other hand,” Douglas said, then got really racy: “You want the bottom or the top?”
Bobby Cannavale, from Boardwalk Empire, won as best supporting actor in a drama, and Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad won the best actress award in the same category.
List of winners at Sunday’s 65th annual Emmy Awards&:
- Drama Series: Breaking Bad, AMC.
- Actor, Drama Series: Jeff Daniels, right, The Newsroom, HBO.
- Actress, Drama Series: Claire Danes, Homeland, Showtime.
- Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire, HBO.
- Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad, AMC.
- Directing, Drama Series: David Fincher, House of Cards, Netflix.
- Writing, Drama Series: Henry Bromell, Homeland, Showtime.
- Comedy Series: Modern Family, ABC.
- Actor, Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory, CBS.
- Actress, Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, right, Veep, HBO.
- Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Tony Hale, Veep, HBO.
- Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie, Showtime.
- Directing, Comedy Series: Gail Mancuso, Modern Family, ABC.
- Writing, Comedy Series: Tina Fey, Tracey Wigfield, 30 Rock, NBC.
- Mini-series or Movie: Behind the Candelabra, HBO.
- Actor, Mini-series or Movie: Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra, HBO.
- Actress, Mini-series or Movie: Laura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter, Showtime.
- Supporting Actor, Mini-series or Movie: James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum, FX Networks.
- Supporting Actress, Mini-series or Movie: Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals, USA.
- Directing, Mini-series or Movie: Steven Soderbergh, Behind the Candelabra, HBO.
- Writing, Miniseries or Movie: Abi Morgan, The Hour, BBC America.
- Reality-Competition Programme: The Voice, NBC.
- Variety Series: The Colbert Report, Comedy Central.
- Writing, Variety Series: The Colbert Report, Comedy Central.
- Directing, Variety Series: Don Roy King, Saturday Night Live, NBC.
- Choreography: Derek Hough, Dancing With the Stars, ABC.
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