WATCHMEN’s Jean Smart and Hong Chau Tease Secrets

So far, Watchmen has introduced us to a world full of intriguing characters, tantalizing mysteries, and one giant squid. But two episodes in, the nine-part series is just getting started. What we’ve seen is just the beginning of a wild ride. When creator Damon Lindelof took on the series, he was intent on making the series as unique as possible, rather than a recreation of Moore and Gibbons’ original graphic novel. That meant, among other things, taking liberties with well-known characters and adding brand new ones, such as Jean Smart’s Agent Laurie Blake and Hong Chau’s mysterious Lady Trieu.

In the graphic novel, a costumed vigilante under the alias of Silk Spectre is one of the only people who knew about Ozymandias sending the squid to New York. She’s also in love with and in a relationship with Dr. Manhattan. Smart plays this same character, albiet older; she’s now in law enforcement and a successful FBI agent who goes under the name of Laurie Blake (she appropriates the Blake name from her father, Eddie Blake, who she finds out she’s related to at the end of the graphic novel). And yes, her romantic ties to Dr. Manhattan are still intact, at least as far as she’s concerned.

Jean Smart HBO's Watchmen


“She still seems to be in love with him,” Smart admitted when Nerdist sat down with the actress during a press day prior to New York Comic Con. “I think if she stood outside herself and was honest with herself, she would say ‘Laurie, that’s so pathetic…this man left you and it you’re still living in the past.’ She would mock anyone else who did that. But she was a teenager when she met him. She was over-plumbed by him, but it was a difficult relationship. And after 20 years, she just kind of had it with him, but I think she still feels completely rejected and thinks about him all the time. I think she’s really lonely.”

Although Laurie seems like she operates as a lone wolf, the relationship she forms with other characters—particularly Regina King’s Angela Abar—are instrumental in shaping her story. “I love the relationship because it starts out so adversarial and starts to become a little something else as we go along,” Smart teased, clearly reluctant to give too much away about how her relationship with Angela progresses. “I think there’s a grudging respect as we grow a little bit, but then it kind of keeps getting sidetracked.”

Hong Chau in HBO's Watchmen


While there’s enough hints between the show and the graphic novel to suss out Smart’s character, Chau’s Lady Trieu— a mysterious trillionaire—is a little harder to crack. In fact, the actress might be one of the only people who knows her secrets, which was a benefit when Chau was deciding whether or not to join the series.

“There are other things that have come up where I’m just like, ‘if I can’t read the script I’m not gonna do it,'” she told Nerdist. “When I met with Damon and he told me everything that was going to happen, I went home with a head full of stuff, of information, but I still wanted to read the script. They sent over the first four and I was just blown away and dumbstruck by how complicated the story themes that he was wrestling with are. And that’s what made me sign on.” That, and the very important revelation that Lady Trieu had a purpose and arc that felt meaningful in the midst of a politically charged comic.

“I was super stoked that Regina King was going to be the lead of this monster show—hell yes, I want to be a part of that! For me, as an Asian actor, I always question when I get approached for a project. I always question why me, and why am I there? So it was great to have Damon explain the original comic and to see that Vietnam played a major part of that, to see Vietnam carried through in a different way,” explained Chau, who is Vietnamese herself. “It didn’t feel like my Asianess was stunt casting or that they were like, ‘let’s just have an Asian person.’ It was very organic to the story and purposeful, which matters a lot to me.”

With so many secrets being kept close to the vest, there’s little that Chau can tease about what audiences will see when it comes to Lady Trieu other than hinting that “I think we get to know about our histories and how we are connected, how everyone is connected.” Smart, however, can’t hide her coyness.

“It’s interesting, because Laurie thinks of herself as a good guy,” she explained of her character’s motives and personality. “When she says ‘I eat good guys for breakfast,’ she’s kind of putting tallys around the good guys—she means people think they’re the good guys, who she now looks down on. She’s a lot more conflicted than she’d like to admit.”


“She has a very big, big, big emotional surprise.”

Watchmen airs Saturday on HBO.

Featured Image: HBO

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