Comic-Con: ‘Watchmen’ arrives

July 25, 2008 | 9:43 p.m.

Hall H was filled, much "Watchmen" ground was covered, and we got to see a special cut of the trailer twice.

Here are the highlights from the question-answer session (because we only provide the good stuff):

Director Zack Snyder, kicking the session off:
‘Watchmen’ has been knocking around Hollywood for quite a while. A bunch of directors had been attached to it … For me, it’s been a labor of love to try and get as much of the graphic novel into the movies as I could.

“Watchmen” artist Dave Gibbons on seeing his illustrations brought to life:
It’s the stuff of dreams to see the stuff that comes out of my head become real. Stepping on to the owl ship, smelling the Comedian’s cigar. Having him slap me on the back and show me one of his guns was amazing. It was like being a kid at Christmas.

Gibbons on notoriously reclusive “Watchmen” writer Alan Moore’s absence from the panel:
I see there is an elephant in the room. I wish that Alan could feel the same excitement and joy I’m feeling right now. 

Snyder introducing the amped-up-for-Comic-Con trailer:
We tried to include the non-PG stuff for you guys. There’s Dr. Manhattan marching through Vietnam and blowing guys up — it’s not quite as friendly as it is in the (theatrical) trailer … We wanted to put together shots to say to you guys, ‘This is how we’re doing it!’

Billy Crudup on the challenges of playing Dr. Manhattan:
There were two major obstacles. One, Dr. Manhattan is unlike anything I have a reference for. And two, how do you pretend to be the 6’4” buffed-out master of matter while you’re a
5’9, 40-year-old make-believe-playing jackass? Those were my two main obstacles and I did what I could.

Jackie Earle Haley on becoming Rorschach:
It was a blast, it was challenging, it was mind-numbing. There’s a lot to Rorschach. I studied the script, I studied the book. I had long conversations with Zack about his multiplicity, what he’s about. And actually I spent a lot of time on the websites and blogs, so I learned a lot about him from all you guys. It was also really empowering when I got into the outfit.

Snyder on his favorite “Watchmen” character:
That’s a good question. That’s not really a fair question though. I like them all for different reasons. (The crowd boos.) Everyone likes Rorschach the best — so that rules him out. Everyone likes the Comedian because he’s a bad-ass and morally, you know. So there’s those two I can’t vote for. Also, you have the girls, which I think ‘awesome,’ but also ‘cop-out.’ Because ‘Oh wow, I like the girls best!’ I mean that seems obvious, doesn’t it? Maybe I’ll stay with the girls, I like the girls best. Fine. Thank you.

Crudup on transforming into Dr. Manhattan:
It was a lot of fitness, I had to get in shape, changing my molecules and all that. That’s stuff they don’t teach you in drama school.

Patrick Wilson on why Dan (Nite Owl II) rules:
It was pretty cool when everybody else had to get all ripped, I could sit back with a carton of Haagen-Dazs and beer and call it a day. I love Dan, I miss Dan. Even though he’s morose, down on his luck, lost, you always pull for Dan, you just do. I love the fact that the artwork (of the graphic novel) is so informative as an actor, you can see Dan’s sense of smile and you see him fighting for it. Really, every day I got in that suit was just a gift.

Snyder on what you won’t see in the movie:
Look, you’re gonna end up with some stuff that isn’t in there … I’d say the more actiony scenes that are less about the inhabitants of ’Watchmen’ for the most part.

Snyder on the welcoming of serious and seriously good comic book movies:
‘Dark Knight’ is a good movie. That’s the thing pop culture has to deal with now. These movies don’t exist just as summer popcorn mindless entertainment. They’re important, they talk about humanity, they talk about stuff that is serious. Serious filmmakers and serious actors are making comic books into cool movies. I would even like one day to see maybe Frank Miller’s ‘Dark Knight’ made into a movie.

Crudup on acting with a green screen:
It was actually much harder for people playing opposite me, with my 400 dots on my face. Malin [Akerman] laughed at it for the first week.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan on taking the Comedian home after work:
There were days I’d go home from work where I’d be, ‘Wow, that was a long day.’ I mean, the Comedian does things I wouldn’t naturally do as a person. But like Dan, we all pull for the Comedian. (The crowd howls.) Every day was a challenge. But sticking a cigar in my mouth helped. It got me in the mood to kill people.

Matthew Goode on why Adrian Veidt and his alter ego Ozymandias will have different accents in the movie:
I had two weeks off between my first scene and the next, and I had my own kind of vision quest. In that moment, I thought, wouldn’t it be really interesting, Zack, maybe it’s possible that his parents were Nazis and that he was born in Germany,  but then moved to America? So he has an American accent as agent Veidt and when he’s with the Watchmen he has a half-American half-German thing going on.

– Denise Martin

photo of the San Diego Comic-Con by Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

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