“Oh, man. Thank you so much to the Academy. I’m so excited right now. I want to say thank you first off to my mama and my daddy. Man, I’m surprised,” said the actor, as he accepted his statuette Sunday. “Thank you so much to HBO, to Damon Lindelof, for your words, for your creativity.”
Also offering praise to his co-stars, the actor went on to discuss his takeaways from the HBO miniseries. “Watchmen was a story about trauma. It was a story about the lasting scars of white domestic terrorism. It was a story about police corruption and brutality, but in the midst of all that, it was also a story about a god who came down to Earth to reciprocate, to a Black woman, all the love she deserved,” Abdul-Mateen II said. “He did all that in the body of a Black man, and I’m so proud that I was able to walk into those shoes. So, I dedicate this award to all of the Black women in my life.”
Created by Damon Lindelof, the DC comic adaptation takes place in an alternate version of the 20th century, in which vigilantes—once celebrated as heroes—have been outlawed, due to their violent methods of extracting justice. In this version of America, episodes of racial violence erupt in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as yellow-masked police officers face off with a white supremacist group known as the Seventh Kavalry.
Like Mark Ruffalo—who earlier in the evening won the Emmy for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie—Abdul-Mateen II was recognized for his take on a pair of roles. In Watchmen, the actor plays Cal Abar, stay-at-home husband to Regina King’s Angela, as well as the omnipotent, glowing God known as Doctor Manhattan.
Tonight, he beat out a pair of Hollywood stars (Jim Parsons and Dylan McDermott), Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend), as well as two of his own co-stars, Jovan Adepo and Louis Gossett Jr.
As indicated by the nominations in Abdul-Mateen’s category alone, Watchmen has been a favorite of the TV Academy this year. Leading in the nominations with 26, the show has thus far earned 10 Emmys in total, recognizing Lead Actress Regina King, as well as its cinematography, fantasy/sci-fi costumes, music composition, single-camera picture editing, sound editing, sound mixing and casting.
Looking ahead, Abdul-Mateen II couldn’t have a more promising slate of upcoming titles. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to lead to shifting release dates, which have affected the actor’s titles, he will soon be seen in Joe Robert Cole’s All Day and a Night, Candyman, Aquaman 2 and The Matrix 4. Additionally, he stars as Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale in Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar contender The Trial of the Chicago 7, which will debut on Netflix on October 16.