Post Mortems

Watchmen's Jean Smart Talks Laurie's Heroic History, 'Defense Mechanisms' and That Big Blue... Memento

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Warning: This post contains spoilers from Watchmen Season 1, Episode 3. 

We hope you were paying attention during Laurie Blake’s transmission to Mars in Sunday’s Watchmen, because Jean Smart‘s monologue in the futuristic booth sketches out a big chunk of the comic-book story on which the HBO series is based.

“One of the crew guys, at one point, he said to me, ‘You did a lot of exposition!,'” Smart tells TVLine. “Yeah, thank you, I noticed.” She laughs. “You think? Geez.” (Go here for a full recap of the episode.)

The Designing Women alum was a total newbie to the Watchmen-verse when she accepted the role of Laurie Blake, an FBI agent who was once a masked superhero but who now makes a living catching incognito vigilantes. “I still keep going back to the book and thinking, ‘What was that relationship? Who did that? Who said that? When was that?,'” she says.

Read on as Smart walks us through Laurie’s entrance into Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen, which is packed with the aforementioned backstory, as well as a few cheeky asides to those familiar with the graphic novel. And yeah, we asked about that fleeting scene with the blue… apparatus. (Which, by the way, Lindelof attributes to episode co-writer/supervising producer Lila Byock. “No pun intended, I don’t think I would have had the balls to come up with that one myself,” he says.)

TVLINE | I have many more important and deeper questions, but I have to know: Is that a giant, blue vibrator she pulls out of that case?
Yes. Well, it is actually… it’s a dildo, OK. [Laughs] In the version I saw, they didn’t linger on it too much.

TVLINE | No, it was very quick.
I don’t know what people are going to think, but yeah, I thought, “Oh God, OK.” I’m lucky now that one of my kids is 29, and one of my kids is 11, and the 11-year-old will never even watch it, because she’s not remotely curious to watch anything I do. And the 29-year-old is old enough that he won’t care. He’ll be mildly grossed-out, but he won’t be scarred for life.

TVLINE | I appreciate your answering my juvenile question.
No, not at all! That was the first thing I asked Damon [Lindelof, showrunner] when I talked to him on the phone. I said, “Let’s get this out of the way right now before I say yes.” Because I’m just really digging this script, and then I’m going, ‘Oh really? Is that where this is going?” He said, “No. Don’t worry over it.” [Laughs]

TVLINE | I love it. We see Laurie come in and she’s so self-assured in her job and in her scenes with Angela, but she’s a much different person when she’s in that booth. What can you tell me about the defenses she’s built up?
She’s very guarded, you know? I mean she has such negative — ambivalent, at best —but negative feelings about her past, and her childhood, and her parents, and things that you would not ever really completely get over, I think. I think she always thinks that she’s much more together than she actually is, you know? She has such anger and disdain towards these masked vigilantes, and the fact that she’s ironically now putting them behind bars. It is interesting. Again, I always think about anybody who’s got that kind of sense of humor, that kind of real wiseass sense of humor…it’s a defense mechanism.

TVLINE | Do you think she misses the good ol’ days with Nite Owl and the rest of the heroes?
Oh, I think she misses the fun part of the good old days. I think she misses, you know, the two men in her life. But I think she’s convinced herself that that was all kind of ludicrous, and now that what she’s doing is important. When she says, “I eat good guys for breakfast,” she’s putting “good guys” in quotation marks. She always thinks that she’s got things figured out more than anybody else around her. She realizes almost immediately with Angela that that’s not the case, that she’s met somebody who can come right back at her. Like that scene in the mausoleum. [Laurie] thought she was totally intimidating this woman, and Angela’s reaction [made her think], oh that didn’t work. Damn. Whoa. Now what? [Laughs]