Courtney B. Vance took home the award for guest actor in a drama series at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sunday night, recognizing his role as George Freeman on HBO’s hit horror drama series Lovecraft Country

However, the honor was a bittersweet moment for Vance, who is still reeling from the sudden death of co-star Michael K. Williams last Monday. He and Williams played brothers with painful and sordid pasts on Lovecraft Country, each garnering critical acclaim and award nominations for their powerful performances. 

While appearing before press backstage shortly after his big win, and expressed an overwhelming sadness over his co-star’s passing. 

“I love him,” he said before fondly remembering meeting Williams after a long period of mutual admiration from afar. 

“This is his,” he said, gesturing to his Emmy award. “We were brothers. I died in the series and we said goodbye to each other, so – it’s just too painful to really think about. So, I just honor him everywhere and every way I can.”

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Williams is also up for a now-posthumous Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Montrose Freeman on Lovecraft Country. In fact, the show has made history as the first program to feature a Black nominee in every acting category, despite its cancelation after only one season on-air. 

This piece of irony is not lost on Vance, who minced no words when expressing his confusion and disappointment that the hit show was not granted a multi-season run, like many of its counterparts on the same network. 

“I’m very happy, but at the same time I’m very sad because of Michael, and because we’re not doing the show,” he said of his win. “In my mind and in my spirit, it doesn’t make sense. That something that was as successful as that show was, that the powers that be could not figure it out.” 

“I’m sad for audiences that we don’t get to see, like Game of Thrones, 7 years, 8 years of following these characters and learning more about the time period, and learning about our people and their struggles, and where Misha’s (Greene, Lovecraft Country writer/showrunner) mind was going to go,” he said. “So that’s very painful for me as a fan and me as an actor.”  

“And I’m tired of it, personally,” he added. “I’m tired of that scenario. They can find a way to make a Game of Thrones, but not a Lovecraft Country.” 

Vance closed his commentary with hope that the show continues to clean up in the Emmys, picking up additional accolades “to send a message.”