Louis Gossett, Jr. Interview: ‘Watchmen’
“Eventually, all of us on this planet have to have the courage to sit around the table, take all our masks off and be one,” proclaims Oscar and Emmy winner Louis Gossett Jr. about what he thought HBO’s “Watchmen” is trying to say about the world today. “We’re not going to come together without it!” he declares. Watch our exclusive video interview with Gossett above.
HBO’s groundbreaking sci-fi hit is primarily set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in an alternate reality 2019 where embattled police wear masks to protect their identity, a nefarious white supremacist cult terrorizes the city, a select band of officers wear face coverings as they mete out vigilante justice and otherworldly forces threaten all of their very existence.
Writer/producer Damon Lindelof (“Lost” and “The Leftovers”) developed the series for TV based on the 1987 DC Comics series created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It debuted late last year to rave reviews from critics and fans, a decade after the Zack Snyder film adaptation of the same name. While “Watchmen” contended as a drama at various awards earlier this year, winning numerous prizes across the board, HBO later re-classified it as a limited series for Emmy contention after Lindelof decided not to proceed with a second season.
The series stars Oscar and three-time Emmy champ Regina King, Oscar and three-time Emmy winner Jeremy Irons and three-time Emmy winner Jean Smart. Gossett, an Academy Award champ for “An Officer and a Gentleman” and Emmy winner for “Roots,” co-stars as Will Reeves, who we learn through flashbacks is the wheelchair-bound grandfather of Angela Abar (King), a former NYPD cop who becomes original vigilante Hooded Justice, who was in a relationship with Nelson Gardner (otherwise known as Captain Metropolis).
Gossett was enamored with the show’s unique exploration of the devastating Tulsa race massacre that took place just shy of 100 years ago in a sepia-toned Tulsa, which is where the series starts. After Tulsa, the series flashes forward to the present day in its alternate reality, becoming a powerful and unique take on how race and violence have shaped America. In the months after “Watchmen” aired, those themes resonated even more so after the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others spurred uprisings against white supremacy and anti-Black violence.
The actor credits Lindelof with imbuing the series with that sense of urgency and uncanny relevance in our current cultural and political landscape. “I’m completely drawn in by his ability to change my mind and to move me along and move the story along. One of the things he moved me along on, which I told him about, is the wearing of the masks and how apropos it was,” he explains. “In the last scene that this old man does that you see him in, he says ‘sometimes you’ve got to take the mask off because wounds do not heal in the dark.'”
Gossett believe that the series is ultimately about coming together in the face of adversity and division. “We can’t do without one another,” he declares. “Every film I did, including ‘Watchmen,’ I’m playing those characters with that philosophy and that philosophy seems to hold on even in the presence of a brilliant man like Damon Lindelof,” he says. “What a wonderful opportunity for someone like me to help a brilliant man like Damon tell that story even deeper by my portrayal, to bring my experience to that wonderful tapestry that this brilliant man wrote.”