You are not likely to find a comic book adaptation as refreshingly original as HBO’s Watchmen. Instead of recreating the story that already existed, it serves as a continuation to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ groundbreaking graphic novel. Having been one of 2019’s most talked about television events, Damon Lindelof’s nine-part miniseries continues to attract audiences and incite discussion,and not just in relation to its recent inclusion for the launch of HBO Max.
It is actually quite fascinating how the modern day world of Watchmen (still overrun with crime, corruption, and a distorted sense of identity years after the events of the comic) can be so easily compared to the modern day world in reality... with the exception of costumed vigilantes being a pressing issue. Yet, if social commentary is not what keeps your mind on the miniseries, perhaps it is the wonderful cast. The actors brought in to portray familiar faces to the Watchmen universe and new faces alike are one of the reasons why we almost wish the show could continue past its sole season. Fortunately, the performers have plenty more on their respective agendas in the near future. Just see for yourself…
Regina King (Angela Abar/Sister Night)
Even before playing detective/vigilante Angela Abar (who crusades in costume as Sister Night) on Watchmen, 2019 was already a big deal for Regina King. The actress won her first Academy Award earlier that same year for her supporting role in If Beale Street Could Talk. Despite being a familiar face in several classics spanning decades (such as her debut in sitcom 227, stoner favorite Friday, and music biopic Ray), King seems to be taking a break from acting to focus on her feature-length directorial debut, an adaptation of Kemp Powers' Jim Crow-era stage play One Night in Miami.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Cal Abar/Doctor Manhattan)
One of the most surprising twists on Watchmen was the reveal that Angela Abar's husband, Cal Abar (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), was actually Jon Osterman, better known as the omnipotent Dr. Manhattan, in disguise. Abdul-Mateen was in disguise for another iconic comic book role as DC villain Black Manta in 2018, which is as role he is set to reprise in the announced sequel to Aquaman, which is currently dated to come out in 2022. In addition to that, the Black Mirror star plays the protagonist in producer Jordan Peele's Candyman, director Aaron Sorkin's retelling of the Chicago 7 trial, and the highly anticipated fourth installment of the Matrix franchise.
Don Johnson (Judd Crawford)
From playing a slimy murder suspect in Knives Out to racist police chief Judd Crawford on Watchmen in 2019 alone, Golden Globe-winner Don Johnson (otherwise known as Miami Vice's Crocket and Dakota Johnson's dad) seems to be more popular than ever at 70 years old. Currently, the actor is set to appear alongside John Boyega and James Cromwell in Green Room director Jeremy Saulnier's upcoming thriller Rebel Ridge , and will star in and produce a revival of his mid-'90s crime series Nash Bridges.
Jean Smart (Laurie Blake)
Another Watchmen star who rose to prominence in the 1980s is Jean Smart, who plays an older version of Laurie Blake, whom fans of the comic recognize as the second Silk Spectre. The 68-year-old, three-time Emmy-winner starred in another TV revival in 2019 (Mad About You on Spectrum) and will next seen as the President of the United States in the upcoming HBO Max exclusive sci-fi comedy Superintelligence, also starring Melissa McCarthy. She will also appear opposite William Shatner and Chistopher Lloyd in the romantic indie comedy Senior Moment, which is currently in post-production.
Tim Blake Nelson (Wade Tillman/Looking Glass)
The mysterious Looking Glass (whose mirrored mask reflects his origin story of being in a carnival fun house the night of November 2, 1985 when the "inter-dimensional squid" landed) is not Watchmen star Tim Blake Nelson's first role in a comic book adaptation, but, arguably, his best thus far following supporting roles in the mostly forgotten The Incredible Hulk in 2008 and Josh Trank's infamous Fantastic Four reboot. The character actor, better known for frequent collaborations with the Coen brothers, will next star in his second collaboration with director James Franco in The Long Home, and also alongside John Boyega in the legal drama Naked Singularity,
Jeremy Irons (Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias)
One of the more brilliant choices for the Watchmen series was Jeremy Irons as an aged Adrian Veidt, the highly-intelligent billionaire who once moonlighted as superhero Ozymandias before emerging as the graphic novel's true antagonist (well, debatably). The Academy Award-winner, whose first foray into cinematic DC Comics adaptations came from playing Alfred Pennyworth in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and 2017's Justice League, has two films currently in production, including the romantic comedy Love, Weddings & Other Disasters and the sports biopic Frankel, named after the famous race horse, which Irons is also producing.
Louis Gossett Jr. (Old Will Reeves/Hooded Justice)
In a massive, surprising twist, Watchmen reveals the true identity of legendary vigilante Hooded Justice is Will Reeves, played as an old man by Louis Gossett Jr., who was forced to keep his vigilantism a secret due to his ethnicity. At 84, the Oscar-winner is the oldest cast member of the HBO miniseries cast, and also one of the busiest. He has several film projects on the horizon, most notably as a Vietnam vet opposite Dick Van Dyke in the comedy Capture the Flag and Artisans, a mid-90s period piece about two aspiring rappers written directed by his son, Satie Gossett.
Jovan Adepo (Young Will Reeves/Hooded Justice)
Starring as the younger Will Reeves in flashbacks, Jovan Adepo first worked with Watchmen showrunner Damon Lindelof on The Leftovers before later playing son to Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences. In the past year or so, Adepo headed up the World War II-era horror film Overlord, played an adult Antron McCray in Netflix's When They See Us, and had a recurring role on Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan. His next miniseries will also be based on a work of fan-favorite literature: CBS All-Access' reimagining of the Stephen King novel The Stand. The actor will also soon return to the big screen with Karem Sanga's romantic drama The Violent Heart.
Hong Chau (Lady Trieu)
Starring as Adrian Veidt's daughter, the Vietnamese-born Lady Trieu, is actress Hong Chau, who prior to Watchmen was best known for her Golden Globe-nominated performance as a five-inch tall refugee opposite Matt Damon in Alexander Payne's 2017 sci-fi satire Downsizing. Since appearing in the HBO series, she has been in the drama Driveways (alongside the late Brian Dennehy in one of his final roles), continued her stint as a regular on the Amazon original hit Homecoming, and most recently appeared in the film adaptation of the Artemis Fowl novel series, which premiered exclusively on Disney+ in mid-June.
Tom Mison (Mr. Phillips/Game Warden)
Starring as one of Adrian Veidt's servant clones, Mr. Phillips, is Tom Mison, who also serves double duty on Watchmen as the mysterious Game Warden. The theatre-trained actor began his reputation for playing mysterious, British-accented characters on TV by playing an out-of-time version of Ichabod Crane on Fox's modern day Sleepy Hollow series, and then followed that with Hulu's series adaptation of Four Weddings and a Funeral. There is evidently nothing currently on the horizon in the world of acting for Mison, who has also expressed to NME that he would prefer not to return for a second season of the superhero series as he felt it wrapped up perfectly.
Sara Vickers (Ms. Crookshanks)
Adrian Veidt also has a female servant clone named Ms. Crookshanks, played by Sara Vickers, who is also of British origin, but would probably credit Watchmen as her most recognizable endeavor to date.She did land an appearance on the Netflix original historical drama The Crown as Marion Crawford, and starred in an episode of TNT's 19th-century mystery The Alienist.
Cheyenne Jackson (TV's Hooded Justice)
Hooded Justice is one of the more mysterious figures of the Watchmen graphic novel, and that mystery is heavily dramatized on the show within the miniseries titled American Hero Story where he is played by American Horror Story actor Cheyenne Jackson. The film and stage star will soon appear in a small role in another sci-fi miniseries called Stellar People, this one with a more comedic edge, as well as a humorous cinematic adaptation of the medieval horror video game Werewolves Within. He also has a role in the upcoming Fox sitcom Call Me Kat starring Mayim Bialik, who is also executive producing with her former The Big Bang Theory co-star Jim Parsons.
James Wolk (Senator Joseph Keene Jr.)
Set on carrying out the legacy of his father, who authored the act that outlawed costumed vigilantes, is the insidious Senator Joseph Keene Jr., played in Watchmen by James Wolk – whom DC fans might also recognize as the voice of Superman on Kaley Cuoco's animated Harley Quinn series. The Mad Men actor will soon return to reality as part of the cast of Spinning Gold, a biopic chronicling the career of Casablanca Records co-founder Neil Bogart (played by Supergirl star Jeremy Jordan), and will lead upcoming series Ordinary Joe in the title role of a man living in three parallel realities.
Frances Fisher (Jane Crawford)
Starring as Judd Crawford's wife Jane is Frances Fisher, who has been very successful in film and TV alike for decades, having played a vengeful prostitute in Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, Rose's mother in Titanic, and, more recently, James Holden's mother, Elise, in the acclaimed sci-fi drama The Expanse. The English actress will continue her versatile career with many upcoming projects, including war movies, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller called Awake, and the animated coming-of-age story The Potters.
Be sure to check back for more information on HBO’s Watchmen, as well as additional updates on cast members from your favorite movies and TV shows, here on CinemaBlend.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.