Adaptations of the beloved graphic novel Watchmen are much discussed but rarely put into production. The book is incredibly complex and deep, best suited for the entertainment medium it is currently printed upon and writer Alan Moore has been against adaptation from the very beginning. Terry Gilliam was at one point attached to direct a film version and then Jason Bourne director Paul Greengrass was in the midst of pre-production, building sets and props, when three weeks before production was to commence the funding was pulled. Finally, in 2009, Zack Snyder released his movie version which was met with a polarising response; a film which I happen to really enjoy. Now it has been revealed that HBO, looking for their next big hit after Game of Thrones and Westworld, have hired The Leftovers co-creator Damon Lindelof to oversee their TV version of the superhero property. Little is known except for the fact it won’t be a straight adaptation and while it is early days let’s have some fun and explore who could and should be cast in HBO’s upcoming Watchmen series.
Jon Hamm – The Comedian
Whatever your feelings towards the Zack Snyder Watchmen film it’s pretty universally agreed than Jeffrey Dean Morgan gave a fantastic performance as The Comedian. He is one of the series’ most iconic characters despite the limited screen/page time with his death being a catalyst for the story but he does feature in the occasional flashback. With JDM busy with The Walking Dead and the show being very much its own thing, I put forward Jon Hamm to play the government assassin/hero. Hamm has experience playing dark, nihilistic but funny characters similar to Edward Blake (The Comedian) on television in Mad Men and even recently in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver. Hamm not only has the look of the character but he also possesses the undeniable charisma and complexity to take Blake to the dark places he frequents in the source material. With the show not being a direct adaptation we could be seeing more of The Comedian than ever before.
Carrie Coon – Silk Spectre
Maybe I’m just being driven by my love of The Leftovers but why not have Carrie Coon and writer Damon Lindelof team up once again? Despite giving one of the best performances of the medium as Nora Durst in HBO’s cult show, Carrie Coon was never nominated for The Leftovers but did pick up a nomination for her more understated performance in the third season of Fargo. Since coming onto the scene in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Coon has become one of my favourite actresses and she would make for a superb Laurie Juspeczyk better known as costumed hero Silk Spectre (or Silk Spectre II if you’re counting). Not only does she have to kick ass but the source material is obsessed with her strained relationships with her mother and lovers Dr Manhattan and Nite Owl with her time on The Leftovers (a show about strained relationships) being the ultimate audition process.
Ewan McGregor – Nite Owl
From a The Leftovers reunion to a Fargo reunion, I would love to see Ewan McGregor take on the role of Daniel Dreiberg, also known as the second Nite Owl. At first glance, the character may seem similar to Batman, with similar costumes, gadgets, vehicle and penchant for flying animals, but in truth he shares more in common with Clark Kent. Retiring after the Keene Act is passed, the character becomes a stodgy nerdy middle-aged man and after his performance in Fargo it seems that Ewan McGregor is perfect for the role. The movie star, who could soon play Obi-Wan Kenobi again, has now, along with a lot of stars, made the move to TV and even made a film about ageing with the fantastic Trainspotting 2 earlier this year and so is in the right position to join the HBO adaptation.
Iain Glenn – Rorschach
Rorschach was by far the most difficult character to think of a good casting suggestion. Walter Joseph Kovacs, better known as ‘Rorschach’, is the only active vigilante at the start of Watchmen and is a character who believes in absolute morality, the punishment of evil by the most brutal, but necessary, way possible. Wearing a mask of moving ink blots, hence the name, he is a character filled with rage originating from his earlier life which is explored throughout the graphic novel. Like with the casting of The Comedian I feel everyone thought the character’s portrayal in the film, by Jackie Earle Haley, was pitch perfect. For the series, I would suggest Iain Glenn who plays Jorah Mormont on Game of Thrones. He would need to dye his hair and change his accent but his gruff exterior, yet sense of vulnerability he promotes with his eyes, and his growl for a voice makes him perfect. I’ve not seen him in a role as animated as Rorschach’s but he’s a terrific actor with the only possible issue being age but with the limited information we have about the series it is possible the age of characters in the comic will be different in the show.
Jude Law – Ozymandias
Adrian Veidt, or Ozymandias (after the Shelley poem), earns the reputation of being “the smartest man on the planet”. What he does with his knowledge and the vast amounts of money he made after going public with his ex-superhero persona, is what drives the plot of Watchmen with his ultimate actions shaping the world in his own unique ‘humanitarian’ way. He runs a business empire and is visually reminiscent of Alexander the Great who was his childhood icon. I think Jude Law would make for a faultless Veidt, portraying the excessive confidence and intelligence of the character and his character in The Young Pope (which was co-produced by HBO) reminded me of Ozymandias and shows Law is open to working on television.
Keanu Reeves – Dr Manhattan
Dr Manhattan is perhaps the most iconic character from Watchmen and certainly one of the most fascinating. Scientist Jon Osterman finds himself trapped in a ‘Intrinsic Field Subtractor’ during an experiment and becomes ‘Dr Manhattan’, a blue-skinned glowing superhero with incredible powers including perceiving all of time, past, present and future, simultaneously. I can’t wait to see how Lindelof deals with this perception of time which eventually sees the character drift away from humanity, his own and the wider species, and become an example of a posthuman god. He speaks in a soft and ethereal manner, finding it hard to care for human activities or even humans themselves. So, who could play such a character? Well, Keanu Reeves obviously. For years his emotionless and zoned out acting has been mocked and so this is the perfect role for him. While Dr Manhattan does have the occasional outburst of emotion who better to voice him than the dulcet, predicable spaced-out tones of Keanu Reeves.
What are your casting suggestions for Watchmen? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV, movies and videogames on Twitter @kylebrrtt.