The Innies and Outies of Apple’s ‘Severance’ Emmys Acting Submissions (EXCLUSIVE)

Apple TV Plus is finalizing its Emmy plans for acclaimed hit “Severance,” which just had its season finale last week. Variety has learned exclusively how the streamer plans on dividing its large ensemble into the drama categories.

Stars Adam Scott and Britt Lower will try their luck in the lead drama actor and lead drama actress races. At the same time, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, Zach Cherry, Tramell Tillman and Jen Tullock will angle for supporting drama attention. And in perhaps the biggest mystery of who may end up where, Christopher Walken will be submitted for guest actor in a drama. The deadline for entering programs for primetime programming is May 12, so any of these plans are subject to change.

Created and written by Dan Erickson, “Severance” follows Mark Scout (Adam Scott), who receives a promotion to department head at the mysterious Lumon Industries company. He leads a team of office workers whose memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives — in other words, the Mark Scout at Lumon knows nothing about the Mark Scout in the outside world, and vice versa.

Scott, whose credits have mostly been in the comedy space — via NBC’s hit shows “Parks and Recreation” and “The Good Place,” as well as Starz’s “Party Down” — has never found his way to Emmys attention. But, executing a steady transition into more serious, emotionally complex roles, such as the cheated-on husband Ed Mackenzie in HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” he has garnered more critical raves. It’ll not be easy with such a stacked lead actor drama race, but a savvy campaign can always make the difference.

Not as well known in common circles as Scott, Britt Lower plays Helly Riggs, the newest addition to the MDR department. Along with Walken, Lower been one of the hovering question marks on where Apple would submit the actors due to their screentime in the first season. “Severence” reps a major breakout role for Lower, who has showcased her talents in other previous series such as Hulu’s “Casual” and HBO’s “High Maintenance.” She’ll be in the conversation for Emmy attention, as long as some of the other campaigns with “louder” performances (i.e., Zendaya in “Euphoria”), don’t drown her out.

Arquette, an Oscar winner for “Boyhood” (2014), already has a pair of Emmy statuettes on her shelf – lead actress drama in 2005 for NBC’s “Medium” and supporting actress limited in 2019 for Hulu’s “The Act.” The veteran actress’ turn as Lumon Industries employee Harmony Cobel which has been called a “simmering, terrifying perfection” in Variety’s review of the nine-episode first season, has been a standout. If Apple can get enough of the Television Academy members to watch the bleak but rewarding series, she could easily pick up her sixth career nom. Of course, it’ll help that supporting actress drama will likely produce eight available spots for nominations, pending the number of official category submissions.

Despite an Academy Award for “The Deer Hunter” (1978) and countless memorable roles across both film and television, veteran actor Christopher Walken has only a single Emmy nom for the Hallmark Hall of Frame made-for-TV movie, “Sarah, Plain and Tall” (1991), losing to John Gielgud (“Summer’s Lease”). It’s still a mystery what the guest actor drama category will produce in terms of contenders, but he could be one of the early frontrunners for his Emmy statuette.

Tillman’s and Turturro’s roles of Milchick and Irving, respectively, have been fan favorites and are sure to be passionate choices for lovers of the drama. Turturro is an Emmy winner for guest actor comedy playing Ambrose in USA’s “Monk.” At the same time, this marks only Tillman’s sixth TV series after roles in shows like Starz’s “Godfather of Harlem” as Bobby Robinson.

No official word yet on which episodes Apple will put its focus on for the sci-fi drama. Two-thirds of this inaugural season was directed by Emmy winner Ben Stiller (who won for outstanding writing for a variety or music program for “The Ben Stiller Show”). Stiller worked with Arquette on Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora” for which he received an Emmy nom and won the DGA prize for limited series directing. Three of the season’s episodes were directed by North Ireland-born Aoife McArdle, best known for her work on music videos with artists like U2.

After its two-episode premiere in February, “Severance” has garnered critical acclaim for Apple TV Plus, and is likely to be their best shot for a nom in drama series. In addition, Apple will also be pushing the second season of “The Morning Show,” the adaptation of “Pachinko” and the upcoming “Shining Girls” with Elisabeth Moss, which premieres on April 29. Other Apple drama contenders include “Foundation,” “Home Before Dark,” “Invasion,” “Lisey’s Story,” “See,” “Servant,” “Slow Horses,” “Suspicion,” “Tehran” and “Truth Be Told.”

“Severance” is now streaming on Apple TV Plus. The official nominations for the 74th Emmy Awards will be announced Tuesday, July 12.

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