Five Emmy nominees pick their favorite scenes

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By Maria Elena Fernandez and Phil Helsel
Actors Hugh Bonneville, Mayim Bialik and Don Cheadle are nominated for Emmys on Sunday.Today

As if pretending to be someone else wasn’t enough of a challenge, to be considered for an Emmy trophy, actors have to choose one episode of an entire season to speak for their body of work. Based on that single sample, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences voters make their picks.

TODAY asked five of Sunday’s nominees to narrow it down even further and choose their favorite scene in the episode they presented to voters.

Hugh Bonneville

Nomination: Outstanding lead actor in a drama
Show: “Downton Abbey”
Role: Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham
Episode: 3.6

Scene: “The scene in which Dr. Clarkson (David Robb) tells Violet (Maggie Smith) Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) and Robert that he might have been wrong about Lady Sybil's (Jessica Brown Findlay) chances of survival is a wonderful example of the way Julian Fellowes writes for each of the characters. Robert and Cora are oceans apart and unable to mourn the loss of their daughter; Dr. Clarkson is adamant about his original diagnosis; Violet sees all sides at once and exactly what is at stake. And the audience knows precisely what each character is feeling before a single word is spoken. Slowly, under the silent direction of Violet, Dr. Clarkson amends his professional opinion in order to heal the wound that has opened up between the Earl and Countess of Grantham. It's written with a great sense of compassion, directed with tremendous care by Jeremy Webb... and was a pain in the neck to shoot as it was the last scene of the day and we were desperately short of time!”

Jeff Daniels

Nomination: Outstanding lead actor in a drama
Show: “The Newsroom”
Role: Will McAvoy
Episode: “We Just Decided To”

Scene: "The speech at Northwestern. Not only was it a defining moment for the show and the character, but I loved how [Aaron Sorkin] wrote it as if it were just spilling out of Will like an avalanche of pent up thoughts, feeling, frustrations and, in the end, beliefs. Actors wait years for a speech like that."

Don Cheadle

Nomination: Outstanding lead actor in a comedy
Show: “House of Lies”
Role: Marty Kaan
Episode: “Hostile Takeover”

Scene: “My favorite scene in the episode is meeting the Dushkin brothers (Evan and Taylor Hart) in the conference room as they introduce the world to their new and horrible fragrance, 'Snatch.' That was a pitch right over the plate for a comedy triple with that ensemble."

Jim Carter

Nomination: Outstanding supporting actor in a drama
Show: “Downton Abbey”
Role: Mr. Carson
Episode: 3.8

Scene: "I love cricket. I was brought up in Yorkshire watching village cricket and for the past four years I have been the chairman of Hampstead Cricket Club in north London. In 2015, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the clubs' founding. So I was delighted when I discovered that Episode 8 had a House vs. Village cricket match. Three days of heaven. And the sun shone! "

Mayim Bialik

Nomination: Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy
Show: “The Big Bang Theory”
Role: Amy Farrah Fowler
Episode: “The Fish Guts Displacement”

Scene: “My favorite moment is one without words. It's a reaction, which wasn't even originally scripted. When Sheldon (Jim Parsons) tells Amy he wants to rub ointment on her chest, I give a reaction where I sit up on the couch and try and process the information with incredulity, surprise, delight and disbelief. The decision to have that reaction was an internal one which I never expected to be noticed, but once our director Mark Cendrowski caught it, he encouraged me to elaborate it a bit and not let it go. I love those unscripted moments where the actor's process becomes part of the action without words. It's a special moment as an actor to create those moments.”