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)

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.


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


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.)



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.”


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.


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.


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.