Jean Smart is an acting pioneer with a career spanning over 40 years. She’s an experienced dramatic and comedy actress but seldom explored the sci-fi and superhero genres.
However, in 2017, she landed a recurring role on the FX show Legion, which lasted three seasons. As soon as Legion ended, she was cast in Damon Lindelof’s HBO Max series Watchmen as Laurie Blake, aka Silk Spectre.
During the Variety actors-on-actors segment with SNL comedian Bowen Yang Smart reveals that she was a last-minute replacement for Sigourney Weaver, who was initially approached for the role but turned it down. “I was sort of shot from guns because they hired me two days before I started,” Smart told Yang. “I’ll be really honest: I had Sigourney Weaver to thank for turning down the role. So, thank you, Sigourney.”
Smart also had no idea what she was getting into as she hadn’t heard about the Watchmen graphic novel from writer Allen Moore and artist Dave Gibbons. “I knew nothing about the graphic novel,” she said. “I knew nothing about the story at all. I started reading the pilot, and I said, ‘Oh, my God, this is amazing.’ I’d never really done that science-fiction genre.”
It’s no shade to Sigourney Weaver (who I crowned the Queen of sci-fi), but can you imagine Watchmen without Jean Smart and her cheeky performance as a former superhero turned FBI agent? The Emmys recognised her powerful performance with an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie nomination.
I highly recommend watching the whole interview to find out her thought on shooting Watchmen and why being a part of the series was a learning experience for her.
Watchmen is currently available on Binge in Australia.