Cord Jefferson Interview: ‘Watchmen’ writer
Cord Jefferson is one of the two writers who penned “This Extraordinary Being,” the episode of HBO’s “Watchmen” that involves Angela (Regina King) taking a substance called “Nostalgia” to enter her grandfather’s haunting memories, and Jefferson is now nominated for his first Emmy for the episode alongside co-writer Damon Lindelof. The nomination wasn’t too much of a surprise to Emmy experts, considering the universal praise for “This Extraordinary Being” when it aired in November of last year. “I was over the moon with the fact that people enjoyed it so much,” says Jefferson in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “There’s a lot of huge swings in the episode that I wasn’t sure how people were going to take to them.” Watch the video interview above.
While some of the sci-fi/mystery elements of “Watchmen” might have been puzzling to viewers in the first five episodes, Jefferson credits, “This Extraordinary Being,” as the “missing puzzle piece” where everything starts to click into place. “That conceit of sending Angela back into the past I think was helpful not only for her character but also helpful for the audience,” explains the writer. In the process, viewers not only got to explore the mystery of Hooded Justice, the alter ego of Will Reeves (Jovan Adepo), but an examination of how challenging it was to be Black in America less than a century ago. “We wanted to explore how nostalgia is different for people of color in America,” states Jefferson. “I think for a lot of people, people who look like me and women and queer people, things were markedly worse and it was a much worse place to be. We don’t get to share that nostalgia.”
Jefferson felt connected to Will Reeves and his struggle to authentically be himself, as a Black, queer police officer in 1930s New York, an environment that was openly hostile towards him. “Will’s need to wear multiple figurative and literal masks, that he’s a man who’s hiding so much of himself from the people in his life because he believes that strength comes from stoicism and never appearing vulnerable, that vulnerability is weakness, I think that is something that I have felt in my life and that a lot of Black men and women, for that matter, feel in their lives,” admits Jefferson. This episode and the series as a whole tackles the hidden truth of generation trauma, which the writer is hoping can inspire viewers to look at their own past. “If the show causes someone to think about their own origin story and to think about their history and to think about their family’s history in this country and the world’s history is influencing the things they’re doing nowadays, that would make happy if that’s what it caused some people to do.”