Jean Smart Interview: ‘Watchmen’
Emmy winner Jean Smart couldn’t pass up the chance to play a character like Laurie Blake on HBO’s limited series adaptation of “Watchmen.” First introduced in Episode 3, Laurie is a vigilante-turned-FBI agent who now fights masked vigilantes, an uncompromising mature woman who is not defined by the relationships around her. “Who thought I was gonna play a badass at this stage of the game?” Smart says in an exclusive new interview with Gold Derby. “She’s not a particularly ethical person. She’s not particularly polite. She’s not particularly ethical at her job but she would be able to defend the things that she says and does very well.” Watch the full video interview with Smart above.
That third episode, colorfully titled “She Was Killed by Space Junk,” was a major showcase for Smart. We see her arrive in Tulsa, Oklahoma to investigate the murder of the chief of police, shoot a white supremacist, spar with many of the town’s residents and communicate with Dr. Manhattan, the most powerful being in the universe who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend. “It was so complete, almost like a little film,” Smart suggests. “Lots of time on an episode of a show you get little bits of the character and then another episode you get a little bit more and then a little bit more, but this was so beautifully written and you got to see so many facets of her. It was very helpful and very satisfying.” While Laurie goes around town without fear in a no-nonsense manner, Smart was able to find the complications within her. “She seems like she’s in such control but she’s really not at all,” the actress notes. “She’s like a therapist’s dream, always going after unattainable men. She’s got some issues.”
Smart spent much of her “Watchmen” screen time with Regina King, who plays Angela Abar. It was an interesting twist of fate for the two actresses to come together, as Smart recalls from her first interaction with King in the makeup trailer. “I said, ‘I’m so happy to meet you,’ and I turned to everybody and I said, ‘You guys, this is T.B.W.S.M.E!’ And they said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘The bitch who stole my Emmy!’ Thank god she laughed.” King famously won at the Emmys in 2016 for “American Crime” over Smart, who was heavily favored to win for “Fargo.” Of course, Smart isn’t hurting for hardware, having previously won two Emmys for her guest spots on “Frasier” and another for “Samantha Who?” Thankfully the two are campaigning in different categories for the upcoming Emmys, so they very well could both take home a trophy.
Speaking to more critical matters, Smart cannot help but see the relevance of “Watchmen” now more than ever, considering the series’ focus on racism and cataclysmic world events. “Along comes coronavirus, the entire world starts to cooperate and we have now a common threat to focus on and also, too, this whole notion of wearing masks and then, again, all of the sudden, we have this event of police brutality,” Smart observes. “The parallels are fascinating.”