HBO’s Watchmen series was a hit for many different reasons, including its talented cast. Jean Smart was part of the cast as an older Laurie Blake, the heroine formerly known as Silk Spectre. Smart earned rave reviews for her portrayal. However, it turns out that she was almost passed over for the chance to play the character.
Smart recently sat down for an installment of Variety’s Actors on Actors series alongside Saturday Night Live’s Bowen Yang. According to Smart, she wasn’t the original choice for Watchmen. In fact, the producers initially offered the role to another high-profile actress with franchise experience.
“They hired me two days before I started,” said Smart. “I’ll be really honest: I had Sigourney Weaver to thank for turning down the role. So, thank you, Sigourney.”
In a way, looking at Weaver to play Laurie makes sense, given her status as an ‘80s action heroine. Regardless, Smart made the role her own. Her performance landed her a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. The show also took home 11 other awards, including wins for Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor for Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.
Although Smart wasn’t a stranger to comic adaptations (she previously starred on FX’s Legion), she admitted that she wasn’t familiar with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons original Watchmen story prior to joining the show. Regardless, the show’s willingness to tackle complex social issues impressed her.
“I knew nothing about the graphic novel,” said Smart. “I started reading the pilot, and I said, ‘Oh, my God, this is amazing.’ I’d never really done that science-fiction genre, and the fact that Damon was able to use that tragic part of our history that almost no one knew about – that was what was so shocking, that I had never heard of the Tulsa massacre. That’s why I think he said ‘no’ when I asked him to do a second season because I think he put everything into that.”
All nine episodes of Watchmen are available to stream on HBO Max.
Do you think Weaver would have made a good Laurie Blake on the series? Let us know in the comment section below!
Recommended Reading: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
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