Bryan Cranston was named best actor in a drama for Breaking Bad, proving that True Detective nominee Matthew McConaughey’s movie-star appeal could not conquer all.
“I have gratitude for everything that has happened,” said Cranston, whose victory ties him with four-time best drama actor champ NYPD Blue’s Dennis Franz.
Cranston’s co-stars Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn were honoured for best drama supporting acting. “Thank you for this wonderful farewell to our show,” said Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, whose hit series about a chemistry teacher-turned-drug-kingpin dominated water cooler conversations for years.
The Good Wife star Julianna Margulies won the Emmy for best lead actress in a drama series, saying: “What a wonderful time for women on television.”
McConaughey was the object of ‘too-handsome’ jokes by presenter Jimmy Kimmel and adoration by winner Gail Mancuso, who was honoured as best director for an episode of Modern Family. “If you don’t mind, Matthew McConaughey, I’m going to make eye contact with you right now,” she said from the stage, holding the actor’s gaze for much of her speech.
Woody Harrelson and his True Detective co-star McConaughey were given time to banter before announcing that British actor Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock: His Last Vow was the winner of the best mini-series actor award. “So you won an Oscar, Sexiest Man Alive, and now you want an Emmy, too. Isn’t that a little bit greedy?” Harrelson teased his fellow nominee.
Fargo was named best mini-series and the award for mini-series actress went to Jessica Lange of American Horror Story: Coven.
ABC’s Modern Family, which tied Frasier as the all-time sitcom champ with five statuettes, also captured a best comedy supporting actor trophy for Ty Burrell. Allison Janney was honoured as best supporting comedy actress for CBS’s Mom, adding to the trophy she had picked up as guest actress on Masters of Sex.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who received her third consecutive best comedy actress Emmy for the Veep, drew big laughs as she stopped to exchange faux heated kisses with Cranston with whom she appeared on Seinfeld.
Meanwhile, Billy Crystal paid tribute to the late Robin Williams, calling him “the greatest friend you could ever imagine”.
The ‘in memoriam’ tribute flashed images of stars including James Garner, Ruby Dee, Sid Caesar, Carmen Zapata and Elaine Stritch.