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James Marsden’s awards track record doesn’t match his skill

An illustration of a smiling James Marsden wearing his "Jury Duty" juror tag.
After two decades in the industry, James Marsden finally has received awards attention.
(Illustration by Michael Dunabin / For The Times)
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For two decades, James Marsden has crafted memorable characters — many affable, some wolfish — in high-profile films and television shows. But Marsden received serious awards attention only this year, with a supporting actor Emmy nomination for playing an entitled, comically heightened version of himself in the Freevee comedy “Jury Duty,” a sort of pretend/reality hybrid in which everyone is an actor except one juror.

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actors from the HBO drama “Westworld” who were not Marsden were nominated for Emmys. (And Thandiwe Newton won for supporting in 2018).

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actors who were not Marsden — stars Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini — were nominated for “Dead to Me,” even though Marsden played twins in the Netflix comedy. (Applegate is vying again this year.)

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The Screen Actors Guild Awards have not been as stingy — Marsden has been nominated for five ensemble awards, including for the film “The Butler” and sitcom “30 Rock.”

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The big-screen buddy dark comedy “The D Train,” in which Marsden deftly sent up his own image by portraying a hedonistic Hollywood fringe player, generates big buzz at Sundance but later earns less than …

... $1 million

at the box office despite a wide release.

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characters get picked for the jury in the high-wire act “Jury Duty.” As an alternate, Marsden once again seems left out. But he maintains a friendship with the one jury member (Ronald Gladden) who is not an actor.

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With his nomination, Emmy voters recognized the skill it took for Marsden — whose performances sometimes can seem effortless — to be the glue holding the “Jury Duty” ruse together.

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