Lovecraft Country stars recall audience reactions to series: 'That would've f---ed my s--- all the way up!'
Before the show racked up 18 Emmy nominations, the cast of HBO's Lovecraft Country felt validation in a different way: from audience reactions.
For newly minted Marvel star Jonathan Majors, his Atticus — a man battling evils both real and supernatural on his search for his missing father in 1950s Jim Crow America — offered a chance for Black viewers to see a character they've never seen before. Which he fully realized when a young boy recognized him while he was staying at a Motel 6 while prepping for a role.
"The little homie walks up to me and he goes, 'You live here?' and I say, 'Yeah, man, I live right over there,'" Majors recalls of the chance encounter in the latest episode of EW's The Awardist podcast. "I grew up in a really tough area and I thought, 'If I had seen an Atticus walk around my apartment complex, that would've f---ed my s--- all the way up! For me, that was the highlight… We always say, 'We don't see ourselves on TV.' Not only did this kid see a version of himself — then he saw him in the flesh."
Majors' Emmy-nominated costars Jurnee Smollett, Michael K. Williams, Courtney B. Vance, and Aunjanue Ellis joined him in recalling how they found out about the shows' many Emmy nods, and shared their thoughts on it being canceled just two days after nominations were announced in July. While the news was bittersweet, the stars are grateful for the opportunities they had to portray their characters and tell these stories.
"I'm familiar, as most adults are, [with] trauma that we have from our personal bad choices or bad situations, unfortunate things that happen to us," Williams says, referring to his character Montrose's secrets. "What I wasn't aware of was blunt trauma. I'm lucky I had this crew to get me through."
He continues, "When we meet Montrose, he was so severely traumatized. He survived the Tulsa massacre and then they moved to the south side of Chicago, which is like a war zone within itself. With all that pressure and the outside noise, and then coupled with the internal stuff from our community — Black men, we are told what a Black man looks like... [no] weakness, softness, sensitivity; nontraditional sexual experiences are not celebrated in the Black community. Montrose was given this book of what a Black man should look like... and it crippled him. And some of that unpacking, it kind of stirred something in me, and that journey was really cathartic."
Check out the full Lovecraft Country interview below, where Awardist co-hosts Kristen Baldwin and Gerrad Hall welcome EW executive editor Patrick Gomez to break down the categories for Outstanding Guest Actor and Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Competition Program, where there seems to be a tight race between RuPaul's Drag Race and The Amazing Race.
Check out more from EW's The Awardist, featuring Emmys analysis, exclusive interviews, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year's TV shows and performances.