The cast of “Seven Seconds” shared the difficulties that accompany tackling a story about the killing of a young, black man.
At the premiere in Beverly Hills, Calif., star Regina King said the heavy emotions she displays in each of the 10 episodes was a challenge. “As an actor, having to carry that much grief every day was a lot,” she said. In the series, King plays the mother of a boy who is killed by a police officer during a hit-and-run accident.
King said she met with a mother whose son had been murdered by police to understand the role. “It’s hard for me still to even wrap my mind around how she could still speak with joy,” King said. “She definitely shared the rollercoaster that your emotions take you through. All I could do is hopefully honor her with my performance.”
While the interaction gave King a starting point for her role, she said it was also very difficult because she has a son. “When you have some of those days that are more emotional than others, those were the days I found myself calling my son just to check in.”
In the show, Beau Knapp plays the officer responsible for the crime. He also discussed the emotional difficulties in becoming his character. “Just living with the material for six months and how heavy, disgusting some of it is in ways (was challenging),” he said. “Just saying these words and believing them.”
Creator Veena Sud said the writers spoke to mothers who lost their sons to police violence as well as prosecutors, civil litigators who worked with police killings of mostly black and brown clientele, patrol cops, and homicide detectives to write an accurate portrayal.
“It was really, really important to me that I got to see the human stories behind the headlines,” Sud said.
Russell Hornsby plays King’s husband and the father of the boy involved in the accident. He said the structure of the show allows the audience to see why and how the characters made certain decisions instead of focusing on a whodunit plot.
“I think this is the first time on film that I’ve had an opportunity to feel three-dimensionally,” he said about his character, Isaiah. “This character is not stock. He’s not an archetype. He’s a father grieving, living, trying his best to love in spite of things.”
Even though audiences might expect to immediately dislike the characters who try to cover up the crime, Hornsby said viewers will be able to empathize with everyone. “Once you go through all 10 (character’s accounts), you understand the why,” he explained. “You may not agree with it, but you get it.”
“Seven Seconds” episodes are available to stream now on Netflix.