On Tuesday Williams earned his fifth career Emmy nomination, this time for his portrayal of Montrose Freeman in the HBO horror series. The series, inspired by Matt Ruff’s novel of the same name, deal with Lovecraftian horrors and the monstrosities of racism and anti-Blackness in the Jim Crow South. Williams told Deadline that, monsters aside, Lovecraft Country helped him process his own issues.
“What Montrose, and his journey and Lovecraft Country did for me was that it got me in touch with my deeper trauma,” he said. “I know that I have trauma with my past experiences of life – things that have happened to me, things that I have done, bad choices. I live that and I’m working through it.”
Beyond the traumas of his current life, he said that the HBO series has helped him realize the need to process family troubles or “blood trauma,” which he connects to the slavery.
Working out the long-lasting emotional, mental and physical tolls of America’s dark period takes center stage in Lovecraft Country as William’s Montrose, Jonathan Major’s Atticus and Jurnee Smollett’s Leti seek to reclaim powers that were taken away from their ancestors, the same way members of marginalized communities seek justice from the country’s historical wrongdoings. For Williams, his and his co-stars’ Emmy nominations mean more than just critical acclaim.
“Montrose as well as the other members of his family, they are the epitome of the Black experience. As Black Americans we live such levels of trauma and oppression from the outside world and from each other. For Montrose’s experiences, his storylines to be recognized, it makes me as a Black man feel seen,” he said. “It makes me feel like someone is acknowledging the fact that there is a lot of pain in my community and in the experience of just being Black. Hopefully we get some healing out of this in a weird way.”
Lovecraft Country‘s 18 Emmy nominations, which accounts for nearly a fifth of HBO’s noms alone, come just weeks after Deadline exclusively learned the premium network opted not to renew the series for Season 2. Williams admitted that he doesn’t “know why [HBO] did not bring the show back.”
“I just believe that Lovecraft Country did what it came to do, which was start the conversation of changing the narrative,” he said.