Jean Smart says she got her Watchmen role because Sigourney Weaver turned it down
Jean Smart is having a moment. Her high-profile roles on two different critically-acclaimed shows this year — the murder mystery Mare of Easttown and the comedy Hacks — arrive on the heels of her well-regarded performance on HBO's 2019 Watchmen miniseries, for which she earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series. But in a new interview with Saturday Night Live star Bowen Yang for Variety, Smart reveals that she was not the first choice to play Agent Laurie Blake.
"They hired me two days before I started," Smart told Yang. "I'll be really honest: I had Sigourney Weaver to thank for turning down the role. So, thank you, Sigourney."
The Watchmen series is a sequel to the graphic novel of the same name by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons. One of the most celebrated superhero comics of all time, Watchmen forced costumed heroes to reckon with the nuclear realities of the Cold War. The HBO series, created by Damon Lindelof, picks up 34 years after the events of the comic. Laurie Blake, formerly the superhero known as Silk Spectre, has since become an FBI agent who ruthlessly hunts costumed vigilantes.
The Watchmen series wasn't just rooted in comic books, but also America's racist history. The premiere opened with a devastating dramatization of the Tulsa race massacre that took place a century ago this year.
"I knew nothing about the graphic novel," Smart said. "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."
Representatives for Weaver and Lindelof did not immediately respond to requests for comment from EW.
Read the full interview at Variety.