Courtney B. Vance on Late 'Lovecraft Country' Costar Michael K. Williams: 'We Were Brothers'

"I just honor him everywhere and every how I can," Courtney B. Vance said

Courtney B. Vance's win at the Creative Arts Emmys is bittersweet amid the sudden death of his Lovecraft Country costar Michael K. Williams and the HBO series' unexpected cancellation.

After winning for outstanding guest actor in a drama series on Sunday, Vance — who played George Freeman on Lovecraft Country — told PEOPLE and other news outlets how Williams both inspired and moved him. "I love him," he said.

"I've been following him and he had been following me for a number of years. But we met in New Jersey about two, two and a half [or] three years ago," continued the 61-year-old star, who was one of five Black actors to win within the six acting categories on Sunday. "We were just overjoyed to share the same dais, and we couldn't wait to get off stage so we could just hug and say how much we loved each other."

Vance, who also honored Williams in his acceptance speech, added that his win belongs to his late costar.

"This is his [award]," Vance said. "We were brothers. I died in that series and we said goodbye to each other. So it's just, you know, it's too painful to really think about. So I just honor him everywhere and every how I can."

Williams played Montrose Freeman on Lovecraft Country, which has since become one of his final performances ahead of his Sept. 6 death. An NYPD source previously confirmed to PEOPLE that the 54-year-old was found dead in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment, though his cause of death has yet to be revealed.

Two months before Williams' passing, HBO canceled Lovecraft Country after one season despite it being a massive hit with critics and audiences alike. It was nominated for 12 Creative Arts Emmys.

Lovecraft Country
Lovecraft Country. Eli Joshua Ade/HBO

While Vance is "very, very happy" to have won on Sunday for his role on Lovecraft Country, he's also "very sad" about Williams' death and the show's July cancellation.

For Vance, the cancellation "doesn't make sense" — especially after the series "set everyone up and then we don't deliver for whatever reason," he said.

"In my mind and in my spirit, it doesn't make sense," said Vance, who took home the Emmy Award for outstanding lead actor in a limited series or movie in 2016 for his role in American Crime Story. "Something that was as successful as that show was, that the powers that be could not figure it out. So I'm sad for audiences that we don't get to see like Game of Thrones, where you get to see seven years, eight years of following these characters and learning more about the time period. Learning about our people and the struggles, and where [writer and showrunner] Misha [Greene]'s mind is going to go. So that's very painful for me and as a fan."

best of tv 2020 - lovecraft country
Lovercraft Country. Joshua Ade/HBO

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Still, Vance believes that "the future is bright."

"We are still pushing on," he continued. "Misha has [an] Apple TV [deal] now and her pens still work, her fingers still work. So, I'm sure we will be hearing from her. And I hope we clean up on the rest of this evening and next Sunday."

Lovecraft Country is currently up for six Primetime Emmy Awards. The ceremony will be hosted by Cedric the Entertainer on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Updated by
Dory Jackson
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Dory Jackson is an Associate Editor for PEOPLE's digital TV team. While at the brand, she's had the opportunity to interview a long list of celebrities, from Kate Hudson to Pierce Brosnan to Billy Porter. She also recaps popular TV shows like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules.

The New York-based Maryland native graduated from Randolph-Macon College in May 2016 with a focus in Communication Studies and Journalism. She came to PEOPLE in March 2021 after working at a number of major news companies, including Newsweek and Us Weekly. She also previously co-hosted a podcast called "Idol Nation."

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