Who To Watch: Best Actors On TV This Fall

by - Monday, September 30, 2013

Television viewers searching for sterling performances along with entertaining storylines should pay attention to the actors in these ongoing programs. Feted at awards ceremonies and in reviews, these actors’ talents are an indicator of shows that will stay on air — and live on in reruns — for a long time. Whether you swear by cable or watch free TV online, you’ll find these actors to be the best performers on the small screen.

Hugh Bonneville

Are you addicted to “Downton Abbey” yet? If not, catch up with the rest of us! This British period drama is full of performers who earned their chops in live theater before television. Of all these actors, Hugh Bonneville is one of the most lauded. While playing the conservative Earl of Grantham, Bonneville has been nominated for best actor in several prestigious film awards, including the Golden Globes, the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards, the Monte-Carlo TV Festival and the Emmys. Prior to “Downton Abbey,” he has performed in Shakespearian productions with Kenneth Branagh. While we have singled out Bonneville here for the way he brings the sometimes-conflicted earl to life on screen, it’s truly the entire cast that have made “Downton Abbey” such a surprising pleasure for viewers on both sides of the Atlantic. This year, the cast won a Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance in a Dramatic Ensemble.

Elisabeth Moss

A young woman determined to rise in the 1960s-era advertising agency that “Mad Men” centers on, Elisabeth Moss’ plucky character Peggy Olson is one of the reasons the ensemble of this acclaimed AMC drama is so compelling. Receiving two nominations for best actress in the 2013 Emmy Awards, Moss is a small-screen star to keep up with. A former child star on 1990s TV shows, Moss has received many nominations for her work. Prior to “Mad Men,” her most famous role was Zoey Bartlet on “The West Wing.” However, unlike the other shows on this list, you’ll have to wait until 2014 to see Olson — and the rest of the “Mad Men” crew.

Simon Baker

Australian performer Simon Baker has long entertained television audiences Down Under, where he debuted in “E Street” and went on to be part of the ensemble in long-running soap opera “Home and Away” in the early 1990s. Now, American audiences best know him as the sharp-eyed investigation consultant Patrick Jane in “The Mentalist” airing on CBS. Baker’s character is a former conman who is aiding the California Bureau of Investigations in hopes of finding the murderer who killed his family. In this role, Baker’s character showcases an impressive talent for gaining people’s confidence and reading them so much so it almost seems like he’s psychic.

Claire Danes & Damian Lewis

The two leads of “Homeland” on Showtime are a gripping and well-acted duo in their portrayal of conflicted lovers whose relationship — and its repercussions — threaten national security. Damian Lewis, who is British, has earned both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Nicholas Brody, an American soldier who had been held as a prisoner of war for eight years.

Claire Danes & Damian Louis credit: starbright31 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

His counterpoint on “Homeland”, acted by Claire Danes, is a CIA agent who has a hunch Brody is a threat to national security because he switched allegiances during his imprisonment. Danes is an accomplished TV and film actress, having won three Emmys and four Golden Globe awards. Dane’s first lead on a TV series came when she was still a teenager in the cult classic teen drama “My So-Called Life.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

If you’re looking for well-acted comedy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is one of the funniest, best actresses around. The former “Seinfeld” star plays Vice President Selina Meyers in “Veep” on HBO. In this series, which only began last year but has already brought her an Emmy, Louis-Dreyfus’ character navigates the world of politics with sharp wit and a slight haze of uncertainty. One of the most highly regarded comedic actors of her time, Louis-Dreyfus has received multiple nominations and awards for her acting. A former cast member of Saturday Night Live in the 1980s, Louis-Dreyfus has had 16 Emmy nominations and has won the award three times for three different series.

… written by Blogger Julia Taft who has been entranced by TV stars and TV shows since she was a girl.

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