Article taken from Los Angeles Times.
Weeks before the Black Lives Matter protests broke out around the globe in the wake of the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, inclusivity, the feeling of “otherness” and the struggle for an essential humanity were already on the minds of the eight actors gathered via video conference for The Envelope’s annual Drama Roundtable conversation.
Regina King stars as Angela Abar and her alter ego Sister Night in “Watchmen,” a series that launches its story with the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa, Okla., before shifting into a fictional aftermath. “What was really attractive to me about the character is this — which I think is something that so many humans experience and don’t realize they’re experiencing — is this trauma that she’s inherited,” King said. “So much of her life right now is informed by that trauma [from the massacre of Black residents and business owners]. She’s kind of created this world where being an outsider is actually a safe space to be.”
Hugh, you’re also playing a character from a real event, a school superintendent convicted of grand larceny. Do you prefer real-life stories?
Hugh Jackman: Not overly. There’s a weight of responsibility added to it, which I actually find challenging. It only struck me a week ago that I’ve done two films that portray the worst moments of somebody’s life [“Bad Education” and “The Frontrunner” about the fall of presidential candidate Gary Hart]. You realize that the Gary that I played is still alive, and it’s still very painful. So you have to have a really good reason to want to make the movie. And obviously we did.
And the same with playing Frank Tassone, our job is to show every side of it. To show, yes the background, why this happens, because all of us are fallible. All of us are susceptible to doing things we’re not proud of. How is it possible that someone like Frank could go so far off from being very respected, clearly motivated out of service to others, to being in prison for four and a half years? I find the cautionary tale of that fascinating.
Why do you think Frank Tassone committed the crimes that he did?
Jackman: I think he started off wanting to make a difference, wanted to get into public education. He became one of the most successful school superintendents in the country. What started as a little small thing, like a lunch, a $30 lunch [he charged to the school account], that he went to the business office and said, “Listen, let me write a check for that,” and the business office said, “Oh, don’t worry. You work 14 hours a day. Let it go.” Just that little chink became quicksand, and before he knew it, he was drowning. I don’t think he or any of the 26 people who were involved in the scandal could see it coming. I think they were what we would say good people that gradually, within two years, were basically complicit in this huge, $12-million illegal fraud.
To me, humans, it’s amazing how we can convince ourselves, when something’s helping us, that it’s OK.
Washington: Don’t you also feel like every great character needs some secrets? You don’t even know who your character is until you know what your secrets are.
Jackman: 100%. It’s always a great game at a dinner party just to kind of look around the table and work out what the secrets are.
Blanchett: Can we play it now?
Regina King: I like when you’re doing a series, and then you discover your character’s secret or one of your character’s secrets along the way. You had an idea of where you were going, and the writer threw that loop at you. You’re like, “How am I going to navigate this? How am I going to weave this in?”
Regina, “Watchmen” is interesting in that you’re in an alternative universe, but you use very real conversations in terms of race relations and what happened in the past. Is that what attracted you to it?
King: Honestly, what attracted me the most is that Damon Lindelof was writing it. Everything he does is complex. It’s layered. It’s not two-dimensional. But once I got into the material beyond the pilot script, what was really attractive to me about the character is that trauma that she’s inherited. So she finds comfort in just having created this little safe space with her family and then having an identity outside of that small nucleus that’s her family, and just navigating that.