Early 20th century horror author H.P. Lovecraft was renowned by many for his stories, but also reviled for his racism. However, the HBO series “Lovecraft Country,” adapted from the novel by Matt Ruff, subverts that legacy by telling a Lovecraftian story through the points of view of African-Americans living during the Jim Crow era in the US. “I think that’s the beauty of the teams that were a part of that project,” explains series star Jonathan Majors. “These guys and gals [including creator Misha Green and producers Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams] took that folklore … and completely corrected a narrative.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Majors above.
“I think that’s such a beautiful thing, and in many ways it’s what many marginalized groups do,” Majors adds about how the series reclaimed and reshaped Lovecraft’s harmful ideas. “We took the monster and deconstructed it into humanity, and I don’t think he saw that coming.” The actor stars as Atticus Freeman, a Korean War veteran who learns that he has a mystical legacy when he goes searching for his missing father (Michael K. Williams). And that legacy of magic and monsters stretches back through time, from the era of slavery, to the Tulsa race massacre of 1921, and to the 1950s, where Atticus’s life is not only threatened by supernatural beings, but also by white supremacy.
The series blends genres throughout its season, which concluded on October 18. Episodes include witchcraft, body horror, ghost stories, time travel, Afrofuturism and even some “Indiana Jones”-style adventure. It means a lot to Majors to be able to tell those kinds of stories with Black characters. “To have young kids that look like the protagonists of ‘Lovecraft’ see that, it just opens things up to the nth degree for what we can do moving forward,” he argues, “and not just Black folks, but any marginalized group, that we as a society, we as a species are not pigeonholed to one type of performance, to one type of genre.”
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