Why Watchmen Star Tim Blake Nelson Loved Acting in a Mask

Starring in a comic book adaptation comes with a number of practical complications, as the ornate costumes that look good in illustrations don't always translate well to live-action, but Watchmen star Tim Blake Nelson recently detailed how wearing the mask to play Looking Glass altered his performance in unexpected ways and made his time on set more rewarding than he anticipated. Luckily, Blake didn't have to wear the mask for every scene, but with his mask serving as an opportunity to reflect his surroundings, it resulted in him making more subtle and nuanced choices as opposed to exaggerating his physicality to compensate for the disguise.

"Wearing the mask, I thought, having worked with masks in drama school, 'Well, this is going to amplify the voice and to demand more expression from the body to compensate for the lack of facial expression.' And what I found instead was that taking away the face actually made me inscrutable in a way that that empowered my character," Nelson shared with The Wrap. "Because of that, I had to do less, not more. And so the character suddenly became much more restrained and allowed for more subtlety, fewer words, fewer movements, and a voice that instead of being louder could actually be quieter."

He added, "That was incredibly gratifying for me as an actor, particularly since most of the roles I’ve been asked to play in my career have been the opposite of that–either extravagantly stupid or flamboyant or wordy. This was a quieter, more restrained character, and I’ve been waiting to get to play a character like that."

Despite the actor ultimately appreciating the opportunity to explore a different element of his craft, the TV series wasn't without its challenges, the biggest of which being the practical requirements of shooting the series when a character is wearing a completely reflective mask.

"There were a lot of challenges, but they fed nicely into playing the role in hopefully a more compelling way, and certainly a more interesting way for me as an actor," the actor admitted. "The biggest challenge was that I often had to wear a GoPro crown, by which I literally mean, a hat of sorts with a GoPro affixed to it over a green-screen mask. That was a bit cumbersome because it would fall off, and it’s not what an actor really wants, to be wearing a camera. And yet I quickly realized that I was part of the surveillance apparatus, if you will, of the project itself. And that lent itself to this guy, who’s a detective. So I started to see it as almost an extension of my brain. And once I looked at it that way, and also I had to keep my head still and be sensitive to any movement, it turned into a boon rather than a challenge."

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While fans were largely pleased with the series, there are currently no plans to deliver another season.

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