Back in 2009, before the Avengers assembled, there was a group of superheroes who defended Earth from deadly space beings.
Known as the 'Watchmen', a group of masked superheroes uncovers a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes.
The movie was very well-received when it was released, and some say that it paved the way for R-rated superhero movies like 'Deadpool' and 'Logan'.
Now, ten years on, 'Watchmen' is back but this time, they're taking over your TV screen.
The 'Watchmen' TV series is produced by HBO, the same company that made 'Game Of Thrones', and it tells the story of a group of superheroes who act as vigilantes.
However, as the series take place in an alternative, contemporary reality in the United States, they are outlawed due to their violent methods.
Despite this, some gather in order to start a revolution while others are out to stop it before it is too late.
You can catch 'Watchmen' same time with the US every Monday at 9am (10am from 4 November onwards) exclusively on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411 / 431 HD).
We talk to Tim Blake Nelson (who plays Looking Glass)
and Jean Smart (who plays Laurie Blake)
about the show.
Can we talk about Looking Glass and Laurie Blake and who they are and what they mean in 'Watchmen'?
JS: I’ll go first. Laurie Blake, whose name is actually Laurie Juspeczyk, is now an FBI agent and she’s hunting down vigilantes, masked vigilantes. She used to be one, so it makes it a little bit complicated, and her parents used to be masked vigilantes too, and she has a lot of very negative feelings, a lot of baggage from her childhood and from her parents.
And for a variety of reasons she has ended up at the FBI and so she’s now arresting vigilantes who she thinks are not only ridiculous, but dangerous. But at the same time, I think she kind of misses that life that she had, that kind of exciting time when she was really young, when she met Dr Manhattan and she fell in love, she was a celebrity and it was all very exciting. But she hasn’t been able to let go of the time with Dr Manhattan and that was a very painful part of her life.
TBN: So, Looking Glass, from the mind of Damon Lindelof, is a character who wears an entirely reflective mask and uses the confrontation and mystery of that mask to determine the truth about suspects for the Tulsa police department. He is a legalised vigilante, which is what the police have become in this alternate universe.
I was actually going to ask about that, because obviously he is a vigilante in some sense, because he’s wearing the mask, but Laurie can’t just arrest him for that, right? Because he’s a legitimised vigilante. What are they like to play?
TBN: They were singularly – what would be the word? They were singularly empowering to play for me as an actor, by which I mean I’ve never experienced so much status in a scene as I do on that set, playing this character, with the mask. It was empowering in a way that almost frightened me. And then likewise in a really great moment in my life as an actor, I had tables turned on me by Jean and her character in that very space and that precipitous drop in status was something really interesting to get to experience as an actor.
JS: You know, it’s funny, because it just occurred to me for the first time, I wonder if there’s a part of Laurie that’s just a tiny bit jealous. You know what I mean? That she misses that feeling that you’re talking about, do you know what I mean? I never really thought of that completely before.
I also think it’s very interesting to watch your character undergo that transformation when he puts the mask on and that’s something, Jean, that I guess you would miss if you don’t have it any more, that ability to just transform and to sort of be absolved of whatever you’re doing.
JS: Yes, and to put whoever you’re dealing with in a completely vulnerable subservient position. Almost like the hooded executioner.
Totally - the anonymity is such power.
JS: I don’t have to be held responsible for what I’m doing, I’m just doing my job.
Tim, your character wears one of the flashier masks in the show.
TBN: I think that the show is examining not only what happens when characters hide behind actual physical masks, but how we use masks – whether we’re wearing them or not – how we treat somebody from whom we’re buying a soda at the local bodega and we present them with a friendly face, even though we might have had a terrible morning. And then we elect leaders who dissemble willfully to us behind their own masks and identities that they appropriate to get us to vote for them. So, it happens in the smallest ways and then also at large. Humans don masks to have power.
JS: And we were also talking about how computers and cell phones are modern-day masks as well, where people feel anonymous and they just spew whatever rage. When they don’t have to face their fellow man, literally physically face their fellow man, they act out in ways that are kind of primitive.
The show is full of very strong female characters - does it feel to you like it’s a feminist piece?
JS: I didn’t think of it that way. I don’t know if that’s necessary to think of it that way or to call it that. I just want everybody to get something out of it, something different. I don’t want to put any labels or expectations on it like that.
TBN: It’s certainly not not a feminist piece, but it’s also very protean and it really does switch its focus and its identity from episode to episode in a way that quite delightfully defies categorisation.
Catch 'Watchmen' same time with the US every Monday at 9am (10am from 4 November onwards) exclusively on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411 / 431 HD).