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A fundamental rule of making any sort of filmed entertainment is that you need to cast the right people. The folks behind HBO’s Watchmen limited series event definitely understood that part of the assignment, especially when landing the legendary Jean Smart as a hardened and wiser Laurie Blake. As if that wasn’t cool enough, it was recently revealed that if fate shook out a little differently for the comic adaptation, the role could have gone to another iconic actress: the equally legendary Sigourney Weaver.
During a conversation with SNL star Bowen Yang hosted by Variety, Smart revealed that her Watchmen casting was an eleventh hour stroke of genius from showrunner Damon Lindelof & Co. And it all came to pass because Sigourney Weaver reportedly turned the role down after being first approached. Graciously thanking Ms. Weaver for her decision, Jean Smart also shared the surprisingly short prep time she had to become the new Laurie Blake after being cast. In her words:
They hired me two days before I started. I'll be really honest: I had Sigourney Weaver to thank for turning down the role. So, thank you, Sigourney.
Now, it's obvious that Jean Smart absolutely crushed it in Watchmen’s continuation of Laurie Blake’s life and times. Combining her trademark sardonic wit with a window of vulnerability, Smart helped weave a story that saw Laurie’s career as an FBI agent clashing with her past as a costumed vigilante and all of the emotions that came with it. So no matter how cool it would have been to see Sigourney Weaver get to play the part, Jean Smart was definitely perfect for the job.
But as it always goes in the land of “What if?,” we can’t help but think of how tremendously cool it would have been to see Weaver land that role. Imagining the woman who gave us Ellen Ripley grappling with gods, egoists, and everything else that Watchmen would have thrown at her is just too awesome not to grant a passing thought. Plus, it would have been a great way for Weaver to embody a more impactful comic book role than her character in Netflix's The Defenders. Honestly, it’s a win-win situation if you can narrow a casting decision to either Jean Smart or Sigourney Weaver; because no matter who wins out, viewers are in good hands
We may never know exactly why Sigourney Weaver passed on HBO’s Watchmen, and the reasons obviously wouldn’t change the outcome. All anyone can really say at this point is that while Weaver could have absolutely killed in that role, Jean Smart took the opportunity to deliver one of her most memorable performances yet. And that is something we’ll always be able to go back to, thanks to Watchmen being available for anyone to watch on HBO Max.
And if you happen to be a big Jean Smart fan, you’ll be pleased to know that you can also catch her in the comedy series Hacks, which happens to be a Max Exclusive. If you don’t have a subscription to HBO Max, definitely check out the plan options that’ll land you the chance to enjoy the entire lineup the platform has to offer. Though be sure to note the differences between the Ad-supported and Ad-free plans, as you wouldn’t want to miss out on any of the fun.