Director Steph Green is nominated at the Emmys for her work on the “Little Fear of Lightning” episode of HBO’s “Watchmen.” The episode centers on Wade Tillman (Tim Blake Nelson) where we see how the famous giant squid attack had a formative effect on him in his youth and how his worldview is shaken up once again in the present as he realizes the connection between the Tulsa police department and the Seventh Kavalry. The ambitious yet intimate episode was in good hands with Nelson taking the lead, according to Green. “Tim is such a brilliant man and performer and he brings so much pain, if it’s needed, to the screen,” says Green in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “Who better than Tim Blake Nelson for us to feel that through?” Watch the video interview above.
The episode opens with an elaborate sequence in which young Wade is a Jehovah’s Witness who gets lured into a funhouse by a young woman where he is humiliated, only to walk out to find the giant squid attack has devastated the entire community. Green went to the original “Watchmen” source material for research. “We immediately started studying the graphic novel for the imagery after the squid attack and really seeing the fun we could have hiding Easter eggs and just being inspired by the graphic novel,” states Green. She reveals that the “mirror maze” was very complex to shoot and they utilized a Spidercam to gradually pull backward into the sky as Wade looked at the chaos all around him.
“Little Fear of Lightning” is largely about the trauma Wade lives with and how we manipulate each other as humans. As Green points out, “Wade is betrayed and he also will betray Angela” all in one episode. We also see how the media is just another means of manipulation, as depicted in the New York City tourism recruitment video. Much has been said about the timeliness of “Watchmen” in 2020, from its take on racism, police brutality, whitewashing and the use of masks, but as Green suggests, it is also relevant in his representation of trauma. “Even for Wade, this trauma is intergenerational,” observes Green. “We pass down how we’re treated and what happens to us to our children.”
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