Two photos of "Archie" (the Owl Ship) on display at Comic-Con
(A first-person report from the panel on Friday, Jul 25th by Karen, one of our website messageboard moderators!)
“Awesome” was Zack Snyder’s adjective of choice at Comic Con’s Watchmen panel on Friday. From the moment the 42-year-old director stepped onto the stage, his excitement over his newest project was contagious.
Jeff Jenson of Entertainment Weekly moderated the highly anticipated panel, telling the audience that Snyder was in attendance and that he had “brought all of his Watchmen with him.” The eight main actors came out with individual introductions, and each was met with a loud chorus of applause and cheers, particularly Jackie Earle Haley as fan fave Rorschach, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian, and Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl. Zack Snyder and Watchmen illustrator Dave Gibbons were also in attendance.
The panel opened with questions for Snyder and Gibbons. Snyder had the opportunity to talk about how he came to direct the graphic novel that had been previously declared “unfilmable” and viewed directing the film as almost his responsibility. He gave nods to his “awesome” cast and explained that his decision not to put the story into the modern-day came about because the themes of the story are still relevant, and forwarding the story twenty years just “seemed wrong.”
Dave Gibbons described his experience of walking onto the Watchmen set “like a dream.” Being onboard the Owlship, smelling The Comedian’s cigars, walking down a street past Gunga’s Diner all seemed surreal, like stepping into his own imagination. When asked if he had been tempted to go back to the UK to talk to comic writer Alan Moore, Gibbons simply laughed and said, “I see there is an elephant in the room.” He expressed his regret that Moore had not been able to be a part of the production because it had been such a gift for him.
Each actor had a chance to talk about their take on their own characters, too. Jackie Earle Haley was thrilled at the challenge of bringing Rorschach to life and “had a blast” playing that role.
Matthew Goode created an entire back story for his version of Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias and explained why the character will sometimes have a hint of a German accent. Billy Crudup said preparing to play Dr. Manhattan was a challenge because he had no frame of reference for playing an omniscient character that experiences time all at once. He also said working with Malin Akerman was fun, although she laughed in his face for the first week because he was covered in blue motion-capture dots and equipment.
Patrick Wilson enjoyed “falling out of shape” in preparation to play Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl. He “got to kick back with a carton of Haagen-Dazs and a couple of beers and call it a day.” Then he turned more serious as he discussed the lovability of Dan. It is obvious that Patrick, more so than any of the others, really developed a relationship with his onscreen alter-ego. “I love Dan. I miss Dan,” he said as he began to describe why the character has such a connection with fans of the graphic novel. Of the Nite Owl suit, he says that he loved putting it on and described the whole experience using Zack Snyder’s words: “It was just awesome.”
A clip of the film played during the panel will likely not be available anytime soon. The studio went to great lengths to ask the audience not to film or photograph any part of the bonus footage, and ushers walked up and down the aisles to ensure that the decree was being observed. The audience did get an extra treat, though. At the end of the session, Matthew Goode raised his hand and said he had a question but wasn’t sure if he was allowed to ask it. Jeff Jenson laughingly obliged. Goode said, “We were all wondering if we could see that again.” Not only was it the first time the audience had seen any of the footage from the film, but it was a first for the actors as well. And they were just as excited as the rest of us.
And, so far, Zack Snyder is right. This movie does look “awesome.”