Jonathan Majors is Tic in Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country: A Conversation with Jonathan Majors

Dept. of Raps and Confabs


Lovecraft Country, the thrilling new adventure series from HBO, is a pulp-inspired drama about race that use genre conventions as a method to deconstruct the myth of American exceptionalism. We caught up with series lead Jonathan Majors (Da 5 Bloods), for a conversation about how the series tackles some of today’s most pressing issues.

Atticus and Leti are looking for monsters in Lovecraft Country.

Umapagan Ampikaipakan: There’s a theme that runs throughout the series. It’s something we see in the first two minutes of the pilot, and then constantly throughout the series. It’s the implication that being black in America means that you always have to be aware of your escape routes. And I wanted you to talk to me about that, as well as the timeliness of Lovecraft Country.

Jonathan Majors: Yeah, I mean, the head on a swivel is a very, very, very integral thing to the survival of our race. You have to look out for police. You have to look out for citizens who don’t necessarily want you around. And that’s been going on since 1619, right? Since the White Lion, which was the name of the first slave ship that came to the coast of America with enslaved Africans. Since 1619, since the first African slave put his foot, or her foot, on this continent, that idea of having a head on a swivel is key. 

So it is extremely relevant now. I think it was extremely relevant when we were making it too. But the beauty of it coming out now is that people are already looking in that direction. People are already questioning things, and wanting information, and wanting to educate themselves on that. And to do so, not just in a literal way, but in a spiritual and emotional way. And that’s what we give them. 

I mean, it’s George Floyd, right? He’s the fellow that completely rocked our country. You know, the death of him. I can say, the assassination of him, completely rocked our country. And so it feels good, in a way, to participate in the education. I also want to be clear that we’re also here to entertain, you know, but that said, it’s good to have some honey with your lemon.

Atticus is not your average protagonist. He's a thinker.

UA: There is this fantastic moment in the first episode, when your character is talking about his love for A Princess of Mars. And this despite the protagonist being an “ex-confederate soldier.” It’s an incredibly nuanced conversation that brings up this conflict that we all have with sometimes loving the art but not the artist. And I was wondering how you reconcile loving something that comes from a flawed source?

JM: So, it’s kind of like this. I view the actor, the artist, the musician – I think about Miles Davis a little bit now – I view them as the vase, right? They’re the vessel. But art is natural. Art is the flowers. And there’s a separation between what is it, what is being in the vase, the flowers, the beauty of that. Kind of Blue?  H.P. Lovecraft’s entire bibliography? That’s coming out of that vase. 

Now that vase is cracked, and torn to shit, and not that good to look at. However, the flowers that come out of it are beautiful. You know, they’re beautiful. And there is a separation. To me, the art comes from comes from the Muses. And you can be a son of a bitch. And I’ll say you’re a son of a bitch. But, hey man, I really like that song. You know, really like that song. You get both. They’re not just one thing. There’s nuance to it. And in the nuance, you can go too far and be fucked up, and still make great things. Or you can be a great guy and be really shitty at making art. Does that make sense?

UA: Which goes some way to explain our conflicted relationships with our countries.

JM: Oh, man, I live in America. They’re killing black folks. I mean, we got this motherfucker in the White House. It’s mayhem here, right? But I go outside, and I ride my bike, and I can take currency out my wallet and pay for something, and I’m playing my guitar. I live here. I love this place. It has its flaws. It has a big, red, flaming flaw in the White House. But it’s all together. It’s all mixed up. That’s life. That’s humanity. 

White folks are not just the Klan, and this, and that. There’s light in front of me. So thank you Edison. You know? You feel me? It’s deep. But I think the more we mature as a country, the more we mature as a species, we’ll have more patience, and be able too separate things. That’s not right, but this I agree with, and that can come from the same source. And all we have to do is, the same way we do the body, you don’t take out the entire liver. You take out the tumor. You get rid of that. And yes, we have some problems. But overall, we’re getting to work. 

Gas stations are dangerous places in 1950s America.

UA: Before I let you go, I need to ask you about The Harder They Fall. I was incredibly excited to hear about your next project. Because the idea of an all black Spaghetti Western just blows my mind. What can you tell us about it?

JM: Okay. The Harder They Fall is directed by James Samuel, a.k.a. the Bullets. It is produced by Jay-Z, a.k.a. Hova. It will be on Netflix, a.k.a. the other big dog besides HBO. The Olympian. The other Titan. The cast is stacked. 

We have a… I’m just gonna tell you. I don’t give a fuck. We have… look… you can’t print this… but I’m just gonna tell you… I can’t… oh, fuck it…

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I mean, we’re expanding the culture. It’s incredible. And the narrative of the movie is about this young fellow named Nat Love, you meet him when he’s 10 years old, and his parents are killed by this gang. No spoilers. We jump cut, 20 years later, and Nat Love is the baddest outlaw in the West. He’s a bank robber. And he’s going around avenging the death of his parents. That is the premise of the film. I am fortunate enough to play Nat Love. And that’s how it goes.

You can read our review of Lovecraft Country here. You can listen to us talk about it on The Goggler Podcast here.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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