He triumphed in a field of top contenders that also included newly minted Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and his costar, Woody Harrelson ("True Detective," HBO); last year's winner, Jeff Daniels ("The Newsroom," HBO); seven-time also-ran Jon Hamm ("Mad Men," AMC); and two-time nominee Kevin Spacey ("House of Cards," Netflix).
It's Cranston's fourth Emmy in the category, which he won for three consecutive years from 2008 to 2010. The latest statuette means Cranston is now tied with "NYPD Blue" star Dennis Franz for the most wins for lead drama series actor.
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"Breaking Bad," which charted Walter White's transformation from sad-sack chemistry teacher to ruthless drug lord, ended its five-season run on AMC last September amid widespread acclaim and record ratings, with more than 10 million viewers tuning in to the series finale.
Before "Breaking Bad" launched him into the A-list, Cranston was best known for his role as a put-upon family man in the sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" and had amassed a long list of television credits, including "Murder, She Wrote," "Seinfeld" and "Matlock."
It's been a year of accolades for the 58-year-old actor, who in addition to winning the Golden Globe in January for "Breaking Bad" also picked up a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for his role as President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Broadway play "All the Way," which is being adapted into a film for HBO.
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