“Breaking Bad” concluded its triumphant run last year as one of the most lauded TV series of all time. At Monday’s 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, its reputation was cemented with another group of honors, including lead acctor, supporting actor, supporting actress and drama series — the top award of the night.
Bryan Cranston won the lead actor Emmy for his performance as chemistry teacher-turned-meth king Walter White. Among the actors he beat: Matthew McConaughey of “True Detective,” who won an Oscar earlier this year for “Dallas Buyers Club” and was the subject of remarks all night long.
“Even I thought about voting for Matthew,” joked Cranston, and then turned serious.
“My own family nicknamed me Sneaky Pete,” he said, noting he didn’t expect he’d find his niche. And then he found acting.
He then dedicated the Emmy to “all the Sneaky Petes of the world. … Take a chance, take a risk. It’s really worth it.”
Aaron Paul got his third win for playing Jesse Pinkman, the sometimes undependable right hand of meth king Walter White (Bryan Cranston).
“I’ve learned so much, on screen and off,” he said to Cranston, sitting in the audience.
And Anna Gunn, who plays Cranston’s wife, won for outstanding supporting actress. She also won last year.
Show writer Moira Walley-Beckett also won.
Like Paul and Gunn, many of the other winners were no strangers to the podium.
“Modern Family” won outstanding comedy series for the fifth straight year, despite stiff competition. The show’s Ty Burrell won outstanding supporting actor and Gail Mancuso won for directing.
Backstage, Mancuso hoped her Emmy gave young girls a sign that there were jobs for them besides acting.
“Seeing a woman winning an Emmy is a wonderful image to project to young girls who think they can do something besides in front of the camera,” she said.
Julianna Margulies won outstanding lead actress in a drama for her performance in “The Good Wife.” She won in 2010 and has been nominated each year since.
Jim Parsons won the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a comedy. It’s his fourth win in the category, all for his performance in “The Big Bang Theory.”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus also repeated. She now has two Emmys in a row for lead actress in a comedy for her performance in “Veep.”
“The Amazing Race” won for reality competition, a return to the winner’s circle after losing to “The Voice” last year.
Allison Janney of “Mom” won outstanding supporting actress. It’s her second Emmy of the cycle, since she won for a guest spot on “Masters of Sex” at the Creative Arts Emmys a week ago.
Louis C.K. won for writing for a comedy series.
“American Horror Story: Coven” picked up two awards, for actresses Kathy Bates and Jessica Lange.
Lange also won two years ago for a different chapter of “American Horror Story.” Asked backstage if she had any other goals, Lange offered an unlikely objective: “I want to win the Belmont Stakes,” she said.
Not all the faces were familiar. In a mild upset, “Sherlock: His Last Vow” took home three Emmys, including one for supporting actor Martin Freeman — who defeated four performers from the film “The Normal Heart” — and for star Benedict Cumberbatch. “Fargo” won two, including Emmy for outstanding miniseries.
“The Normal Heart” did win outstanding television movie. The film was based on Larry Kramer’s 1985 play about the beginnings of the AIDS crisis.
“This is for all of the hundreds of thousands of artists who have passed from HIV/AIDS since 1981,” said director Ryan Murphy.
The “In Memoriam” tribute was set to the music of “Smile,” sung by Sara Bareilles. It concluded with Robin Williams.
“He made us laugh — hard — every time you saw him,” said Billy Crystal, telling stories about Williams’ quick wit in a broadcast booth and at a family gathering.
“It’s very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in all of our lives,” he said.
Kathy Bates remembered Williams’ good nature while talking backstage.
Up for a Golden Globe for “Misery,” in a time before cell phones were commonplace, she was waiting at a pay phone to call her mother — and didn’t have change. It was Williams who gave her a quarter.
“I won this time and this is for you,” she said, getting choked up.
Host Seth Meyers kept things lively with some winning skits and a brisk monologue. He opened the show with pokes at “Game of Thrones,” broadcast television and the very timing of the Emmys itself.
Noting that the awards show is on a Monday night in August — so it didn’t conflict with Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards and an NFL game on Emmy network NBC — the host noted that could only mean one thing: it’s “about to get canceled.”
And even if “Weird Al” Yankovic never gets to play the Super Bowl, he can now say he had a notable spot at the Emmys, providing lyrics for theme songs that don’t have them, including “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones.”
The show aired on NBC.