Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Debra Birnbaum, chats with Regina King, who received an Emmy nomination for her gripping performance as Latrice Butler in the Netflix limited series “Seven Seconds.”
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Despite the number of crime dramas now on the air, King thinks “Seven Seconds” broke out of the pack because of “the relevance to what’s going on right now,” she says. “It’s some powerful stuff we’re dealing with.”
Playing a mother whose life changes when her son dies in a matter of “seven seconds,” King thought that looking at police shootings from the lens of the violence as a systemic problem was a valuable way to use television to change hearts and minds.
“I don’t think this is just a people of color problem. It’s an American problem,” she says. “And until America is honest about it and wants to have conversations across the line about it, which means some really painful conversations, this beautiful country that we love and that we are so honored to be in cannot keep that title of ‘land of the free, home of the brave’ without owning the past and the present.”
Working as a director on series like “This Is Us” and “The Good Doctor,” King also acknowledges that the person behind the camera telling the story is just as crucial to seeing greater representation in the industry as is an on-screen portrayal. That also factors into casting. “A truer story is being told when it’s told from the person who’s had that experience,” she says.
While she remained mum on details of her character in Damon Lindelof’s “Watchmen,” which was just picked up to series by HBO, she says, “in true Damon fashion, I’m sure I will be guessing from script to script” how the series carries on. She did share, though, that she will “have to eat my Wheaties” in order to keep up with the physical demands of the show. “I can see myself doing this for a few years,” she says. “I feel grateful to be this close to 50 and still being able to run and hop over stuff.”
Having a prior relationship from collaborating on Lindelof’s “The Leftovers,” King recalls how her heart “just kinda skipped a beat” when she got the first call about the show. Inside the initial script that had to be hand-delivered, since “everything was so top-secret,” she says Lindelof wrote her a note that he had always envisioned her as the character and “could not think of a better woman to lead this. So I hope you see this and enjoy this as much as I did writing it. And let’s do this.”
Lindelof also left a second note King could only open once she reached a certain page in the script, and when she did, she found “a picture of me that was drawn of what he saw as the character,” she says. “It just made my heart smile.”
King also reflects on her experience playing Lydia on “Southland,” insisting that she would revisit the character “in a heartbeat.” “Whenever we run into each other, we talk about it all the time. And I won’t say no,” King says of her co-stars.
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