With this wild ride we have been on thus far just getting started, Lovecraft Country proves that even when you think you know where it is headed, you truly have no idea! With Montrose Freeman (Michael K. Williams, The Night Of) alive and now reunited with his son, I am positive that we can expect more secrets to come to light.
The Beat spoke with Michael K. Williams about what Montrose fears the most about his son finding out his true lineage, how his stellar body of work addresses race in America, what he hopes Black men & other races, in particular, take away from Lovecraft’s rich episodes, and so much more!
On what Montrose fears the most about Atticus finding out the truth about his lineage, Williams shared: “For obvious reasons, he thinks that magic is no good and anything related to this magical lineage that Atticus “Tic” (Jonathan Majors) inherited from Dora (Erica Tazel) is no good. There is also a bit of a power struggle as well. With knowledge comes power and when we understand our heritage, we know who we are. In addition, maybe Montrose has a bit of a fear of losing control of the status quo and that changing within their relationship, which I believe ultimately happens anyway.
“I think, again, a lot of the reason why Montrose hid things from Tic was definitely a part of him [feeling] he was protecting his son from this darkness. And it was a power trip. It was ‘I know what is best for you and listen to me!’ If you look at it, everything Atticus did, if it was not sanctioned by Montrose, Montrose did not think it was a good idea. From the books Tic read to going to the army. Tic always wanted to know more about his mother, but his father said, no, leave it alone. So that was the odd thing about the letter that Tic got from Montrose informing him of this lineage. Montrose always said do not ask questions about this or go down this path.
“I will say there are other secrets that come up over the course of the next few episodes that are a direct result of the beatings that Montrose received as a child. The physical and emotional beatings that Montrose endured at the hands of his father, in some weird way pushed Montrose to want to beat all of the softness out of Tic because he did not want him to suffer the way he did. But in his fight to do that, he was the main one to abuse Tic.”
On what Montrose needs to heal in order to grow emotionally for himself and Tic, Williams told us: “First, he needs to forgive himself and know that he did the best he could with what he had. Then, he needs to forgive his abusive father and be the one to break this negative cycle. There are generational curses in the Freeman family, just like in real life that we all suffer from. We pass down trauma just like we pass down family recipes and legacies. Lastly, he needs to communicate better. We think Tic is already a man when he comes home from the army, but within minutes of him reuniting with Montrose, Montrose cuts him down and Tic is reduced to tears.
“So, we watch Tic throughout this journey grow into his own man. Later in the season, there is a conversation that happens between Montrose and Tic where Montrose finally shares every truth. Most importantly, he shares the truth about the love and type of relationship that he and Dora shared. To me, that was so healing and a beautiful scene. The dialogue and the way Montrose spoke to his son with so much respect and honesty. To me, those are the tools that he needs to move forward in a healthy way.”
On what elements from his roles in 12 Years a Slave, When They See Us, and The Wire he sees in Lovecraft Country, and how it addresses race in America, Williams said: “The fact that we have Lovecraft Country as this piece of art to hold up as a mirror, to look at ourselves as a nation, I think is such a God gift. Lovecraft Country serves as a glimpse of the timeline of a series of events and things that happened that led us to where we are today. With The Wire, creator David Simon said what he wanted and needed to say within those five seasons. We looked at the issues that the show dealt with and tried not to sensationalize those. Anything beyond season five, he would have been making a show for a different reason.
“We look at shows like The Wire, When They See Us, and now Lovecraft Country, and we get a chance to see what is wrong with us as a society and as a community. It is always a good and relevant time to tells stories like that. In entertainment, it is good to tell stories about love, fantasy, and escapism but it also very important to dig deeper. A lot of us in society take our cues from certain pieces of art like these shows, and it connects us. For example, there are people who never heard about the Tulsa massacre, Black and white, before Watchmen. Now because of that show, they have a chance to be educated and hopefully go and research even further beyond that body of work to really find out what happened, and that’s a beautiful thing and a great way to use art. And although I would render H.P. Lovecraft a very sick and sad individual, he took his ignorance and turned it into a piece of art that we are now able to regurgitate, expand upon, and turn into another piece of art that shifts perception and changes the narrative, which is a beautiful thing.”
On what he hopes audiences take away from Lovecraft Country, Williams shared: “For Black men in particular and how we are not able to be soft or vulnerable within our intimate spaces, I hope that Lovecraft will at least start the dialogue as to what that looks like. In regards to the show as a whole, my hope is that the audience walks away with more knowledge, more empathy, and just a willingness to listen to each other a little bit more. We are looking at Lovecraft with all of its great storytelling and social commentary, but at the foundation, this is a Black family’s story. This is a family looking for their legacy and their piece of a story that they can be proud of. They go through the typical things that all families go through: the arguments, coming back together, finding love, and forgiveness. I hope that the audience walks away with a certain sameness, a certain identity that they may or may not have had prior to watching. If I could just reach out a little bit more, if there’s a family that does not look like mine, that does not know my experience as a Black man in America, I would hope that they would watch this and find a little bit more understanding as to how and why things got the way that they did.”