Actor Jonathan Majors first arrived on the scene in 2011’s comedy/thriller Do Not Disturb and has since gone on to receive massive acclaim for his role in Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco as well as his Oscar-worthy performance in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods. Since then, Jonathan Majors has found a new home in the hearts of weird fiction fans, playing the titular character of Atticus Freeman in HBO’s adaptation of the book, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY.
In LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, the series follows Atticus Freeman as he joins up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip across the 1950s Jim Crowe America in search of his missing father. This begins a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the terrifying monsters that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback.
Though LOVECRAFT COUNTRY isn’t based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft it’s still inspired by his craft for writing weird fiction. When speaking with Majors, I was curious to know if prior to filming he had been aware of Lovecraft as a person and/or his stories. “I was not familiar with H.P. Lovecraft,” remarked Majors. “I since now understand that H.P. Lovecraft is essentially part of a trilogy – I would say it’s Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King.”
Though he may not have been privy to the style of Lovecraftian mythos, that didn’t stop him from taking on the role of Atticus. “My deciding factor for the [series], for me I see the whole thing as a family drama,” explained Majors. “Here’s this man that comes back from war, which is already romantic, and he’s got a whole bunch of pain, a whole bunch of secrets, and he’s already been metamorphosed. He’s already changed from Tic to Atticus before the [series] has started. We only reference Tic, you’re only dealing with Atticus.”
Luckily for viewers of the series, which has been receiving rave reviews, we will get the chance to learn more about Atticus’ backstory as Tic. “There is an episode, I think Episode 6, where you’re only dealing with Tic, which is one of my favorite episodes,” hints Majors.
As we continued our conversation, Majors circled back to discussing the role of Atticus as well as the theme of family. “He’s a son, he’s a lover, he’s a nephew, he’s a member of this tribe. As he moves through it he understands his legacy,” explained Majors. “The beautiful thing about legacy is that the entire family begins to help push [Atticus] forward. In pushing him forward, pushing them forward. So the entire Freeman, Lewis, Baptiste, and even Braithwhite family, all these four families huddle around this nucleus and push it forward. Therefore it becomes a story about humanity and how we all move forward, that’s what I really hooked on to.”
And that’s the beautiful thing about LOVECRAFT COUNTRY; there are, without a doubt, elements of horror woven throughout, both in the use of supernatural creatures as well as the hellish and cruel behavior exhibited time and time again by humanity. However, throughout it all, the theme of family stays strong. “The monsters are incredible, the ghosts incredible,” remarked Majors, “but for me, that’s what I know, I know family.”
For more on the series, check out our review here as well as our interview with showrunner Misha Green. Make sure to tune into HBO each Sunday at 9/8c for new episodes of LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. *Interview questions were contributed by Elga Roberson*