Sharen Davis Interview: ‘Watchmen’ costume designer
“This one meant a lot to me,” admits costume designer Sharen Davis about her Emmy nomination (shared with Valerie Zielonka) for HBO’s “Watchmen,” which leads all programs at the Emmys this year with a whopping 26 nominations.
Davis decided to go for a morning run to settle her nerves before the announcement and recalls the frenzy afterwards. “As I was running, the calls kept coming in. I was just like ‘how many? How many nominations?’ I didn’t even know I was nominated until an hour later because we had so many nominations for ‘Watchmen.’ It was so exciting.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Davis above.
“Watchmen” stars Oscar and 3-time Emmy winner Regina King alongside Oscar and 3-time Emmy winner Jeremy Irons, Oscar and Emmy winner Louis Gossett Jr., 3-time Emmy winner Jean Smart (all of whom are nominated this year for the show), previous Emmy nominee Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Hong Chau and newly-minted first-time Emmy nominees Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jovan Adepo. The series is set in an alternate reality Tulsa, Ok. in 2019, where an embattled police force wear masks to protect their identity, a nefarious white supremacist cult terrorizes the city, a group of officers assume alter-egos as they mete out vigilante justice and otherworldly forces threaten all of their very existence.
Emmy-winning writer/producer Damon Lindelof (“Lost” and “The Leftovers”) developed his take on “Watchmen” for TV, based on the 1987 DC Comics series and the earlier Zack Snyder-directed film. It contends in the limited series categories at the Emmys after contending as a drama at various awards earlier this year, because HBO re-classified it as a limited series after Lindelof decided not to proceed with a second season.
Davis designed numerous looks for the show’s pilot, including the outfits worn by King’s Sister Night, her band of vigilantes and also Irons’ mysterious Adrian Veidt character. Perhaps her most impressive from the show is the extensive period designs created for the sepia-toned scenes set during the devastating 1921 Tulsa race massacre that took place on “Black Wall Street.” That dark moment in history is often called the worst single incident of racial violence in American history, but it has inexplicably remained not well known until Lindelof chose to spotlight it in “Watchmen.”
“We were really mindful to broach this subject. We wanted to be as realistic as it was the day it happened,” Davis recalls. “I would wash everything down and made sure nothing looked crisp and new. I wanted the audience to feel like they were there. It was a horrible event in US history and I wanted people to feel the fear and the hate.”