Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jackie Earle Haley Interview – WATCHMEN

     August 4, 2008

Okay…I know Comic-Con was a week ago. And yes…I know the interviews that I’ll be posting all this week should’ve been online already. But what you may not know is…I got hurt at Comic-Con, as the back of Hall H collapsed and a beam holding the curtains fell and landed on my head. While it didn’t hit me at full force (or I’d be a lot worse off than I am) it did some damage and it’s taken me a number of days to get back on my feet. I won’t bore you with any more of the details except to say I’m finally starting to feel like myself so I’m going to try and pile thru all the remaining interviews that people did at Comic-Con.

Anyhow, the interview below is with Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian) and Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach) for the movie “Watchmen.”

For the two readers that don’t know about “Watchmen,” the movie is directed by Zack Snyder and it’s based on the iconic graphic novel from 1986. Here’s the official synopsis:

A complex, multi-layered mystery adventure, “Watchmen” is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the “Doomsday Clock” – which charts the USA‘s tension with the Soviet Union – is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed-up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion – a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers – Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity…but who is watching the watchmen?

As most of you know, “Watchmen” was a revolution in the comics industry and there is a very good chance the movie will do the same for superhero movies. I – like most of you -cannot wait to finally see this in March of 2009. In fact, this is the movie I’m most looking forward to next year.

Anyway, the interview below was done backstage at Comic-Con in roundtable form. Both Jackie and Jeffrey seemed really excited to be there as they had just seen the footage in Hall H with 7,000 fans. Needless to say, the footage went over extremely well with the fans and it only further raised the expectations for the final film.

And with that…enjoy the interview….

Question: Jeffrey, you had that key scene with Carla, the rape scene; can you talk more about what that did to you and how it stays with you?

Jeffrey Dean Morgan: Well, I think you’re probably sitting at a table with the guys that are probably the most screwed up in this movie. Our characters were screwed up and I think as actors we had a lot of challenges to go through and that scene in particular was just a really…it was vicious. I don’t how I can describe it and I knew going in…I mean I read the graphic novel and I saw what it was…but in shooting it, I made the mistake of going back and looking at a little bit of playback on the monitor and it was maybe the biggest mistake I made in the course of my acting career because what I saw was…it was repulsive. It was repulsive and regardless of….and I don’t claim to be a big method actor or anything else. I do my work and I enjoy it but that was a rough couple days shooting that scene and like you said it stuck with me and it still…I still have it in my head. Some of the stuff The Comedian does are things you can’t make excuses for as an actor. Even as an actor and even like oh, I’m going to play this guy as a complete bastard, but it’s stuff that doesn’t go away sometimes.

Clearly some actors say that they don’t play villains as villains. They play them as people who have certain motivation.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan: Yeah.

But Edward Blake is like a really bad guy.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan: Yeah, yeah. And you wonder what his motivation is sometimes. I was constantly trying to find out what Edward Blake’s motivation was because some of the things he does, I think it’s just the way he is. He’s just built that way. It’s kind of a fine line, also though trying to find….because you don’t hate him. You don’t hate The Comedian no matter what he does these things and yet when I read the book anyway, I was like why don’t I hate this guy? What is it about him? You almost feel sympathetic to him at a certain point when he’s with Molak and you even had sympathy so trying to find that razors edge and being able to walk that was kind of a great deal as an actor to kind of play and do but yeah there were some actions that The Comedian does—that scene with Carla in particular—that will stay with me for a little while, yeah.

Jackie, were you prepared for the reaction you got in Hall H and the reaction you’re going to be getting in the next couple of months playing “Rorschach”? Are you prepared for this onslaught?

Jackie Earle Haley: Ah, I don’t know.

It’s going to be big. It’s going to be big.

Jackie Earle Haley: It’s wonderfully exciting. I mean, through the process I’ve become a fan of the source material and it’s like I’m half excited to be part of this movie and wow, this is incredible! And then I’m half-geeking out like a fan-boy. You know what I mean? This is just like…I was watching that footage with you guys—that’s the first time I’d seen it—and I had to keep pushing my mouth closed, you know, I’m trying to look cool like…that’s amazing. Snyder rocks.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan: Yeah, we couldn’t believe it. We were just like hitting each other.

The scene where you were thrown out the window, how the hell did they shoot that?

Jeffrey Dean Morgan: Cool, I got thrown out the window. I did wire work for it and that was actually the first opening sequence was the first thing I shot in the movie, the first thing we shot period in the film as a matter of fact, and we did wires and stuff. It was a lot of fun.

That was really you like…?

Jeffrey Dean Morgan: Yeah, yeah that’s me in every frame of that. Yeah, it was cool. I actually had a great time doing it. As a matter of fact, the first couple times I went out the window—this was Zack talking to me and it’s like ok, can you do one without smiling because you know it’s just a free-fall like 7 stories on these wires and then at the bottom you’re just kind of laying…it was just like being at Disneyland. I had to get it in my head that no, no I’m falling to my death, but it was a really cool deal. And Zack and the guy who shot it, Larry Fong, are amazing. What we just saw blows my mind. I mean, did you guys dig it?

Yeah, yeah. It’s going to be okay.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan: You think it’s going to be all right? I feel okay about it too.


Jeffrey Dean Morgan: Looks really cool.

Jackie, did you set yourself in Rorschach’s mindset for this kind of troubling or do you find it really easy to immerse yourself through the entire process?

Jackie Earle Haley: You know I gotta….this is really comforting for me to be here with Jeffrey to hear him say what he said. This is never like stuck in my head like a character. Usually I can leave him on the set. You do your thing, you leave him on the set. Even like when I was playing that character in “Little Children” I mean that’s a pretty real messed up guy, but I could leave him on the set. For the most part I did with Rorschach but there were some things that…I had your exact same experience. I’m so glad to hear that you had that. Sorry, but you know in dealing with specifically one I think that really stuck with me the most—and I don’t want to give too much detail—but how Rorschach dealt with the child-molester and the way we shot that. I mean there’s no problem. I can go back and do it again, you know what I mean, but there was just something about it that man, literally it didn’t keep me from sleeping but while I was trying to go to sleep, literally every night….geez okay, come on don’t go there, you know? It’s kind of weird.

Did you have to shave your goatee and get a wig on?

Jackie Earle Haley: Oh yeah, yeah.

Can you guys give any details of anything that you had to bring to the character to make it live onscreen that just didn’t work on the page…directly transferring that you really had to add to it?

Jeffrey Dean Morgan: You know the kind of…and I think we all went through this. It was an amazing transformation that happened when we put on our costumes. For me, I just really needed a cigar in my mouth. There was kind of so much preparation. We were immersed in “Watchman” world 4, 5, 6 months before we started shooting. We were in Vancouver 3 months before so a lot of stuff…there was a lot of rehearsal and talking time before we started shooting, but I think by the time that shooting started, we were dialed in pretty much. Not that during shooting there weren’t questions, because I’ve never asked more questions in my life of any character I’ve ever done. But working with the other actors and Zack, you know, we were able to try anything but using the graphic novel as our bible. Does that answer the question?

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