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Jean Smart on Playing Laurie Blake in Watchmen, The Show’s Take on Superheroes

November 12, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Watchmen - She Was Killed By Space Junk Jean Smart Laurie Blake

Jean Smart spoke with Uproxx for a new interview discussing her role as Laurie Blake on Watchmen. You can check out some highlights below:

On which of her roles stand out the most as things she’s never done: “Oh gosh. I’d have to tie Watchmen and Fargo for that. I’ve probably played similar roles in the past in the theater but not on camera. I’ve played a lot of iconic villainesses in the theater. Not that these women are villainesses, but like Clytemnestra and strong women who are in extraordinary circumstances.”

On the appeal of a different take on superheroes: “It’s kind of fun because Laurie’s very much a mortal, but she’s in this kind-of somewhat altered universe, so it’s kind of fun to ride the fence between those two worlds. It makes it kind of timeless. You don’t see everybody on cellphones [which are outlawed]. I think of all the things in movies we can’t do anymore simply because of cellphones or TSA or things like that. You can’t have romantic goodbyes in airports when the person runs onto the plane and proposes. You can’t have people desperately trying to find a payphone to tell somebody something before the bomb goes off. It’s just all that stuff you can’t do anymore. So we don’t have any of those rules now in Watchmen. We can be very, very real but sort-of do what we want at the same time.”

On if she watched the film: “No. Damon [Lindelof] actually felt that with his very different take on this story, that it wouldn’t be helpful to watch it … I think I saw a scene from it, and it’s interesting because with Malin Ackerman, I actually played her mother on a pilot a few years ago. It didn’t get picked up.”

On her solo scenes in episode three telling her joke to Dr. Manhattan: “Well, we shot it so many times, over a period of days, and then we went back, and I thought it was completely done, but then I thought, “Okay, I can move on.” And then two weeks or a month later, we had to go back and do it again for another scene where Angela’s actually watching it onscreen, so I had all the match all the movement and replay what we had shot. That part was not my favorite.”

On if Laurie gets her message across to Angela in the discussion of masks from episode four: “I think at that point, and Regina may have a different answer, but Angela’s still trying to figure out this bizarre woman who’s come into their midst. I think she thinks I’m full of shit, but there’s a part of her that knows that it’s also true. And I’m making light of it, but I’m actually saying things that are part of my painful past, but I’m making it sound very flip, which is Laurie’s style. But yeah, with Angela, she maybe thinks that I’m a little bit dangerous. I act like a goofball and say something stupid like, a line about gophers? She makes these silly jokes. She tries to keep people off balance by coming off very strong, and she’s obviously very bright, and then she’ll say or do something kind-of goofy. She reminds me of a cross between Brenda Starr and Columbo. I’m dating myself! Peter Falk played a detective who would act like he wasn’t always sure what was going on, and then he’d make a joke, and you’d realize later on that he was manipulating a person, and that was fun to watch.”

On Laurie’s time between the graphic novel and the series: “Sure, we find out later in the season how she wound up working for the FBI, which is interesting, and the fact that she’s still sort-of obsessed with Doctor Manhattan…”

On the blue dildo scene: “Well, you know, there are women who still go to Graceland every year and weep about Elvis. I think because it was her first love, and it was such a dramatic time in her life. I think she also misses the whole package, not just him, but as much as she disparages that [vigilante] life that she had, because her parents forced her into it, she misses that. I think that people can obsess, and the fact that she was rejected, a total rejection, and she has that weird connection with these phone booths. That would keep somebody going if they were in the right mindset.”

On how Laurie is processing her own trauma: “I think that she’s really good at denying lots of things. She maybe when she lies in bed at night, alone and in the dark, still thinks about certain things, but I think for the most part, she thinks she’s got it all together and doing something that’s good and productive. And she thinks that she’s moved on, but she’s still got a lot of hangups about the past.”

On if Laurie would be able to have a relationship with Dr. Manhattan if they reunited: “Hmm, good question. I think not. Too much time has gone by, and I think too much pain. I think she’s got too much anger.”