Set Visit: Watchmen!
When I got the call to hit up the Watchmen set nearly a year and a half ago, I was happy to go since Iím a huge fan of the graphic novel. And while I had doubts that any big screen version could do it justice, all the talk coming out of the Snyder camp certainly indicated a commitment to doing it right. What I thankfully discovered during the trip was less a commitment so much as a burning, laser-like focus on making this a true and awesome adaptation.
Not to say there weren't some worrisome moments, like being shown the room of a character who does not exist in the comic (JFKís killer for the much ballyhooed opening sequence). Or when Jackie Earle Haley, very much the linchpin of the movieís success, made clear in his interview that to him Rorschach was always Rorschach, even though fans of the book know a certain key event is what makes The Big R in present day a very different man than the one who fought beside Nite Owl II. And let's not forget how very too skinny Matthew Goode appears in the role of Adrian Veidt.
But as set diaries, trailers and ComicCon have given up amazing looks at this epic work in progress, any small concerns from the visit slowly evaporated. Of course, so did just about everything cool that I was going to share with you guys. We got to see Pre-Viz stuff of The Comedianís death and Dr. Manhattan in Vietnam that has since been lovingly dissected frame by frame from the trailer footage of those completed scenes.
There was also an exciting at the time moment when Snyder got the word on set that money for Tales Of The Black Freighter had been approved and the storyline would be included on the DVD. I felt like it was the right decision and of course great news. But you guys already know this.
The slight spoiler of how theyíre altering the NY sequence has also been tipped. And the look of the Owlship. And the sometimes reconfigured, but across the board amazing costumes. You get the drift.
So while my trip to Vancouver was top notch from a fan perspective, at this point Iím left with little more than some anecdotes to share with you. Oh, and the Jackie Earle Haley workout that he discusses in an interview coming up later this week. Dude is shredded like you wouldnít believe and people are gonna hop on that train like they did the 300 workout.
So Iím sitting on set and enjoying the fact that Danny Woodburn (Cosmo Kramerís little person friend) is sitting behind me. Heís playing Big Figure, and watching like the rest of us while Jackie Earle Haley gets attacked by a giant meathead with a circular saw. Between takes Haley grabs a couple of weights that look so Roadrunner inspired I half expect ACME to be written on the side. He runs through 12 - 15 reps each time just to keep pumped for the scene.
Later I got a chance to grab one those weights while we toured the prison set, and I couldnít pick it up. I mean using both hands and going deadlift style. Iím not the biggest dude on the planet by any means, but those f*ckers were heavy, and Jackie was tossing Ďem around like they were filled with Tribbles.
That experience made my manhood shrivel up so I concentrated on the disgustingly perfect amount of blood and gore in and around the prison cell where Rorschach gets attacked. Think of a dining room after a two-year old gets a hold of multiple bowls of canned Cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving.
We were traveling from somewhere to somewhere else when we all stopped to get coffee and what have you from the craft services table. One of the more industrious of my fellow journos there also took the opportunity to lay reasonable game on what he thought was a hot P.A. Turned out to be Malin Akerman as she grabbed a drink before getting into her Silk Spectre II costume. Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.
While he wonít got the praise or recognition he deserves, Production Designer Alex McDowell was with us for a large part of the visit and took us through how he approached the daunting task of bringing this incredibly rich and layered world to life. Suffice to say there is an insane amount of detail required by the film, and any of you that have had little joygasms watching the trailer owe a big debt to Alexís work.
So thatís really all Iíve got for you guys that you havenít already seen or heard about. I will say that I've never been on a set visit where every single person covering it was so universally knocked out by what they saw. I don't think anyone had a bad word to say about the production or the direction it appears to be heading. There's a lot that can go wrong with a story this complex, but clearly Zack Snyder has a strong vision, and I gotta say as a fan of WATCHMEN from way back, I'm thrilled with how theyĎre handling the project.
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