Jean Smart was one of the many talented people included in the HBO miniseries’ ensemble lineup for the critically acclaimed, WATCHMEN. Based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbson’s graphic novel of the same name, the Damon Lindelof series was well-received by fans and critics alike but Smart is revealing she wouldn’t have been a part of it if another iconic actress hadn’t turned down the role.
Smart played Laurie Blake on the miniseries and during an interview with “Variety” to discuss her hit HBO Max dramedy series Hacks, Smart was asked about her time on Watchmen. Smart did note that she had no knowledge of the source material before joining the show and she also revealed that she signed on last-minute because Sigourney Weaver ended up passing on the project:
“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. I knew nothing about the graphic novel. I started reading the pilot, and I said, ‘Oh, my God, this is amazing.’ I’d never really done that science-fiction genre, and the fact that Damon was able to use that tragic part of our history that almost no one knew about – that was what was so shocking, that I had never heard of the Tulsa massacre. That’s why I think he said no when I asked him to do a second season because I think he put everything into that.”
This is a situation where you really couldn’t go wrong if you landed either actress. Aside from being similar in appearance, Smart and Weaver are both great performers. Smart has earned eight Emmy nominations and three wins during her prestigious career while Weaver has landed three Oscar nominations and three Emmy nods. Weaver has the edge when it comes to genre work thanks to the Alien franchise, Ghostbusters, and Netflix’s The Defenders so she may have been a bigger get in the end but Smart more than owned that role in the long run.
In addition to Smart, Watchmen starred Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Andrew Howard, Don Johnson, Jeremy Irons, and Hong Chau. The miniseries is technically a sequel to the source material that takes place 34 years after the events of the comics within the same alternate reality. The show focuses on events surrounding racist violence in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2019. A white supremacist group called the Seventh Kavalry has taken up arms against the Tulsa Police Department because of perceived racial injustices, causing the police to conceal their identities with masks to prevent the Seventh Kavalry from targeting them in their homes following the “White Night.” Watchmen received rave reviews and ended up garnering 26 Emmy Award nominations and 11 wins, including Best Limited Series, Best Actress for Regina King, and Best Supporting Actor for Yahya Abdul-Mateen.
Do YOU think Sigourney Weaver would’ve been a better choice over Jean Smart for Watchmen?