SAG Awards nominee profile: ‘Lovecraft Country’ cast would be atypical winner for drama ensemble

When “Stranger Things” won the Screen Actors Guild award for drama ensemble in 2017, it joined the 2006 winner “Lost” as the odd ones out in a sea of standard dramatic fare that typically wins this race. Their sci-fi story elements make them stick out among repeat winners like “ER,” “Mad Men” and “Downton Abbey.” This year we might be adding a third sci-fi-adjacent drama to the winners’ table if “Lovecraft Country” has anything to say about it.

In order to take the prize for Best TV Drama Ensemble, the “Lovecraft Country” cast will have to topple last year’s winner “The Crown,” which also stands above the other cast nominees with the most individual nominations (four). Also contending are two shows each with one prior nomination in the field: “Ozark” and “Better Call Saul,” both first nominated in 2019. The category is rounded out by another first season nominee, “Bridgerton,” which brings the largest ensemble to the race at 28.

Of the five nominees, “Lovecraft Country” is the only one that does not have any of its actors nominated for an individual award. That’s an important point to make when comparing it to “Stranger Things,” who brought nominations for Millie Bobby Brown and Winona Ryder along for the ride at the 23rd ceremony. “Lost” did not have an individual nominee at the 12th SAG ceremony and still won, giving a small glimmer of hope for “Lovecraft Country.”

Nominated for the “Lovecraft Country” ensemble are nine of its cast members, led by Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett as the show’s lead characters. Also in the group is Michael Kenneth Williams, now a four-time SAG nominee, twice before as part of the “Boardwalk Empire” cast with which he won once in 2012. Williams plays a supporting role in the series, as do Jamie Chung, Aunjanue Ellis, Jada Harris, Abbey Lee, Wunmi Mosaku and Jordan Patrick Smith.

In the series, Majors and Smollett play Atticus and Letitia, two friends who embark on a road trip of sorts across America in the 50s in search of Atticus’ father, played by Williams. The concept for the show is based off of the novel of the same name by Matt Ruff which is in turn inspired by writer H.P. Lovecraft, a canonical horror author. Using elements of Lovecraft’s horror and sci-fi stories and mashing them up with the real life experiences Black people would have endured in a segregated South, “Lovecraft Country” bridges the gap between traditional historical shows like “The Americans” and the more imaginative ones like “Westworld.”

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “SAG Awards nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2021 contenders in film and TV.

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