Watchmen: Looking Glass' Original Backstory Revealed

Tim Blake Nelson's character on HBO's Watchmen quickly became a fan favorite due to his dry, southern drawl and hard detective instincts, but mostly because of cool his costume was in the series. The fifth episode of the series gave him the focus and showed how the original comic book series shaped his character, revealing the origin of his hero alter ego Looking Glass. In the episode he finds himself tricked into taking his clothes off in a hall of mirrors, shielding him from the psychic blast of the giant squid that is teleported into New York, essentially tying his first sexual experience to the death of millions in the area. It's a lot, and in keeping with the world of Watchmen it kind of broke him. Also it was almost totally different.

"The backstory was entirely different," Nelson told Entertainment Weekly, revealing that he filmed the first three episodes thinking his backstory was one way. "And I don't want to go into too much detail, but it involved an interracial relationship that Wade had had that had ended very badly. And I loved that notion. I'm in an interracial marriage myself in my own real life and have three children in that marriage, and so these are issues that are very close to me. And although my interracial marriage has a very happy present — and, I think, future and past — Wade's was really tragic and really dark and really just changed the course of his life."

Nelson added, "Very much to Damon's credit, even though I had been operating with this completely different backstory, it didn't really change any of the macro decisions I had made about Wade. And so it was perfectly coherent with every decision I had made in the past, and I don't credit myself with that. I credit the fact that Damon and the writers, that even though they were going to change the backstory so dramatically, they were going to do it in a way that they wouldn't screw their actor over and make the decisions I made suddenly incoherent. And they didn't do that. And I was just very, very excited to play this new story in a way that wasn't going to contravene anything I had done before."

Though a second season of Watchmen seems unlikely, Nelson said he would return for the series but only if showrunner Damon Lindelof was involved. Sadly for all of us and Nelson, Lindelof has already made it clear that he's not returning for another batch of episodes.

Watchmen is streaming on HBO Max.