It’s one of the most popular shows on Binge at the moment.
HBO’s Lovecraft Country, adapted by TV writer Misha Green from Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel of the same name, is a 10-part horror-cum-thriller-cum-social drama that has terrified viewers in more ways than one.
The 1950s-set show takes the iconography of horror fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft, who influenced the likes of Stephen King and Guillermo del Toro, and uses it to tell a story that Lovecraft, a white supremacist, would have abhorred.
The show follows black trio Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) along with his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) and friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) who embark on a road trip to Massachusetts in search of Atticus’s missing father Montrose (Michael K. Williams).
At the core of it, Lovecraft Country exposes the injustices black people faced across the US in the ’50s, peppered with fictional elements including supernatural monsters called ‘Shoggoths’.
The serious tone of it is something that was not lost on Australian actor Jordan Smith, who plays William in the series.
Growing up in both Scotland and Brisbane, 31-year-old Smith (whom you may recognise from Neighbours) said filming the confronting series further opened his eyes to the extreme level of racism that has plagued history books.
“(It hit home to me) more than I think you can imagine,” Smith told news.com.au.
“I grew up in Scotland and Brisbane and everyone is very much the same, there’s not too much diversity at all.
“Going to Atlanta (where part of the show was filmed) and listening to the stories, I thought ‘This almost seems made up’, but the situation was even worse.
“I have so much more empathy and a better understanding now. This show really blew my mind.”
Stream every episode of Lovecraft Country on Binge. Get a 14-day free trial. Sign up at binge.com.au
Without giving too much away, Smith plays a complex character with conflicting traits (we would like to explain this further but it’s a big spoiler if we do).
And while portraying the weird and wonderful William presented its challenges, it was Smith’s naturally thick Scottish accent sprinkled with Aussie hints that made pulling off an American accent a tricky feat.
“I think I had a weird way of doing it (the US accent),” Smith said. “The accent coach on set was like, ‘This is not how I thought you were going to speak.’
“But I wanted William to have a weird way of talking. I wanted it to be a bit off. ‘Who the hell is this guy and what does he want?’”
Unfortunately that approach didn’t quite work in his favour when he attempted to speak in a Brazilian accent on Australian soap Neighbours, where he played Andrew Robinson from 2009 to 2013.
The character was originally supposed to be from Brazil but Smith’s difficult-to-hide Scottish tongue meant that storyline had to be changed.
“Everyone was like, ‘What the hell did you just say?’” Smith laughed.
Lovecraft Country is available to stream on Binge.