Watchmen has been delighting videos with its dense imagery and thoughtful construction since the series began airing on HBO this fall. Tim Blake Nelson is the immensely enjoyable Looking Glass on the show, and he sat down with GQ to talk about many of the roles he's played over the years. Watchmen is there near the end in the chronology, but he still really enjoys one specific facet of this show above all else. It is no secret that masks are a recurring motif in the HBO series. Cops wear them, Vigilantes wear them, and bad guys wear them too. But, while that is a part of what the show is striving for, Nelson argues that the freedoms that masks provide in vigilantism is the most interesting part of what Damon Lindelof has built with this series. Revenge is innately human, and for Nelson, that emotional response to unfair treatment, generational trauma, and the cruel random nature of the world is the nucleus that the rest of this superhero story revolves around.
Nelson begins."The one thing I love the most about Watchmen is that while it is based on a graphic novel/comic, and it has superhero element, particularly with Dr. Manhattan. Really, Watchmen is about vigilantism and it's about justice. It's about human frailty called revenge and how that is misinterpreted as a strength."
"The thing that Damon (Lindelof) is examining, in the show Watchmen, is what revenge can allow for," he continues. "Not just in the vengeful person, but in the tit for tat response to revenge. How revenge and vigilantism build on themselves. Then, finally, what it brings out in someone to wear a mask."
For a character named Looking Glass as his hero moniker, it's a little on the nose. What happens when people can only see a distorted version of themselves in your eyes. What does that do to the person beneath that veneer? Poor Wade Tillman might not have made it to the most recent episode of Watchmen, but he did speak about the heartbreaking end to episode 5 with The Washington Post.
"He'll forever associate meaningful relationships -- and the trust that goes along with meaningful relationships, not to mention his sexual impulses -- with catastrophe," Nelson said. "And he spent his life, now, getting over that. So to me, he gets into law enforcement as a way not only to promote justice, but also as a way to hide inside of a structure, a code, and, eventually, a mask."
Watchmen airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.