This story about Regina King first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
Filming “Seven Seconds” was not easy for Regina King, but for one key episode she had a remarkable ally.
In the Netflix crime drama from creator Veena Sud, King plays the mother of a black teenager who is hit while riding his bicycle by an off-duty police officer. And the episode where she learns, in a quietly wrenching scene, that her son has died of his injuries was directed by Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme, who died last year shortly after production wrapped.
“It was a gift to have the opportunity to work with him, and that scene was a collaborative one,” said King, whose Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie nomination was the sole nom for “Seven Seconds.”
“We sat and talked about what I think it would be like — but I’m a mother of a 22-year-old, and I was terrified to even think about what it would be like,” she said. “It was written as a quiet expression of pain, and Jonathan felt like we could leave it like that or we could go big.
“So we did three takes. The first one, I let it all come out. And Jonathan said, ‘OK, we got that out, let’s see what comes next.’ We used the third take. There were a lot of things in play, but mostly it was Jonathan protecting me and allowing me to figure it out.”
The story takes a crucially different look at police violence against young black men. “I think it was very wise to not make it another shooting,” she said. “This story brought more attention to how law and order treats black families and black victims in these circumstances.
“It goes beyond the events that happen to ask, ‘Where is the justice afterwards?'”
Seven Seconds comes on the heels of King’s three nominations and two wins for John Ridley’s American Crime and makes her a staple in dark and topical stories. Is that her sweet spot as an actress, or is she open to comedy?
“I would definitely welcome lighter material, but I like to be where the truth lies,” she said. “If you have the opportunity for your art to meet activism, you shouldn’t pass that up when it comes your way.”