Emmys spotlight: Newcomer Finn Bennett shines in ‘True Detective: Night Country’

“True Detective” season four, officially titled “True Detective: Night Country,” has returned the HBO crime series to its former glories after seasons two and three disappointed. This entry follows Jodie Foster as a police chief investigating the vanishing of eight men in the spooky, fictional town of Ennis, Alaska.

One of many things, along with the eerie town and Lovecraftian seasoning, that makes this series so excellent is its cast. Two-time Oscar-winner Foster is joined by a trio of other veterans — Christopher Eccleston, Fiona Shaw, and John Hawkes — plus a pair of newcomers: former boxer Kali Reis and rising star Finn Bennett. Bennett plays police Officer Peter Prior, the son of Hawkes’ Captain Prior, and he turns in a nuanced, memorable performance. Critics have agreed, too, he makes the strongest impression amongst the series’ supporting cast.


Caryn James (BBC) opined: ‘Bennett is vivid and convincing as Peter Prior, a smart and good-hearted young policeman who idolises Liz, jumping when she calls so much that it jeopardises his marriage.”

Nick Levine (NME) explained: “Bennett impresses as Peter Prior, an ambitious young officer whose loyalty to Danvers causes problems at home.”

This critical support could lead to a strong Emmy campaign for Bennett, who is on the hunt for his first-eve nomination; he will be competing in the Best TV Movie/Limited Series Supporting Actor category. That status as an Emmy newbie shouldn’t hurt him. This category has thrown up lots of first-time nominees, including “Beef” duo Young Mazino and Joseph Lee, “The White Lotus” pair Jake Lacy and Steve Zahn, and “Dopesick” star Will Poulter. Bennett’s nomination would feel most similar to Mazino’s — a young newcomer starring in a hit, critically adored show alongside big name star and more than holding his own.


And, like Mazino, Bennett could be competing against his own co-star with his on-screen father Hawkes also in the mix. But that shouldn’t hurt either of their chances as Emmy voters are more than happy to nominate two or more actors from the same show in the same category. Recent examples in this category include the aforementioned duos of Mazino/Lee and Lacy/Zahn as well as the likes of Paul Walter Hauser and Ray Liotta (“Black Bird”) and Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff, and Anthony Ramos (“Hamilton”). For the past 12 years, there has been at least one show every year that earns nominations in this category for two or more of its actors.

Another trend they could benefit from is the increasingly popular genre of crime in this category. Plenty of actors are nominated here for this genre, including Jesse Plemons (“Love & Death”), Hauser and Liotta (“Black Bird”), Richard Jenkins (“Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”), Evan Peters (“Mare of Easttown”), Paul Dano (“Escape at Dannemora”), and Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”).


We also expect “True Detective” to be a big Emmy player this year. The first season, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, was an Emmy darling, earning 12 bids including one for Best Limited Series. We fully expect “Night Country,” which has returned the show to its former glory, to replicate that record this year and pick up bids for Foster, Reis, Best Limited Series, writing, directing, and a whole bunch of below-the-line nominations. Bennett could easily be swept along for the ride.

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