Damian Lewis, Homeland (Showtime)
Nicholas Brody, Homeland’s mysterious anti-hero, is one of TV’s most complex and infuriating characters: a Marine who became a terrorist sleeper agent, then a congressman, then a double-agent, then a triple-agent, while carrying on a torrid affair with his bipolar profiler, CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes). But what makes him so exciting is his mix of sincerity and ruthlessness. Lewis plays him so that you can’t tell which of Brody’s reactions are authentic and which are mercenary contrivances, and which parts of his persona, if any, are “real.” He deceives Carrie, his wife (Morena Baccarin), his terrorist masters, his government handlers, the viewer, and himself, and no matter how closely you watch Lewis, he still manages to fool you. The old saw about acting being a form of lying has rarely been so brilliantly articulated.