Casting Call: HBO’s ‘Watchmen’

So, we all knew this was coming. As soon as rumors first started that Damon Lindelof might be taking the seminal graphic novel, Watchmen, to HBO as a TV series, geek sites across the webs started dusting off their old fantasy cast lists for the book that were not satisfied by Zack Snyder’s divisive hyper-glossy adaptation. Well, here’s mine, and no, I don’t feel guilty about it. (Ok, maybe a little)

Nite-Owl – Corey Stoll

Corey Stoll is far from schlubby, but we all know they will ultimately cast someone not schlubby and either ask them to eat some donuts or wear a fake belly. However, he does have a cool underdog mentality to him. He is really great at an effortless psychological schlubbiness, if the makes sense, diluted with some humor to make just the slightest bit likable. I’ve always like Owl, but that likability isn’t inherent to the character. I am always afraid they’ll go the wrong way with this character.

Silk Spectre – Meg Steedle

I know what you might be thinking. Who the hell is Meg Steedle? Well, she is the actress who interrupted the third season of Boardwalk Empire with her instant chemistry and cute as a button looks. And then, poof, gone. Why isn’t she an enormous star? Where the hell is she? Her IMDB says she showed up here and there with an especially long run on Mysteries of Laura. Unfortunately, none of it is even close to being on my radar, especially Debra Messing’s case-of-the-week cop show. I want to see Med Steedle in something, and I could see her bringing a lot of life to this character who steals the heart of almost every male character in Watchmen.

Rorschach – James Ransone

Ransone is another in a long line of quick-talking character actors that deserve a little more recognition. He might be the most recognized for his role in the underappreciated second season of The Wire (That’s right, it’s Ziggy). Ever since The Wire he has bounced from weirdo scumbag to weirdo scumbag talking a mile a minute, unloading mountain of dialog with precision with an almost lyrical quality. If the movie did anything right, it’s Jackie Earl Haley’s portrayal of Rorschach. His gravelly responses are borderline iconic, at least in terms of comic fans, and Ransone could deliver the same idea but at a much different cadence so that he isn’t just cribbing what came before.

Ozymandias – Neil Patrick Harris

One of the biggest mistakes Snyder’s movie made was Matthew Goode’s version of Ozymandias. No offense to Goode, I just think he got the wrong direction. Every scene he walked into immediately led to a knee jerk reaction: “Oh, he’s a bad guy.” The Ozymandias of the comic seemed so much less condescending and more unassuming. You need a real nice guy to just come in and prove to everyone he is as dangerous as kitten, but on second viewing, definitely seems like an unhinged sociopath. Harris’ smiley showmanship could really get that feeling across.

The Comedian – Kurt Russell

This one I am really swinging for the fences, and if it was any other network, I would say this was a near-impossibility. But this isn’t TV, it’s HBO. They got Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins to be part of their weird robot cowboy show, I think they can get Snake Plissken to play a leather-clad jackass. I think they can get Jack Burton to play a psycho who makes a joke out of the darkest situations. This is Russell’s wheelhouse.

Dr. Manhattan – Walton Goggins

Billy Crudup’s performance in Snyder’s film was one of the biggest revelations to me. I have always read Dr. Manhattan with a deeper, stronger voice. Booming emotionless confidence. Crudup instead made him soft-spoken and nuanced. Like he was consistently disappointed instead of outright cynicism. So, while Goggin can’t exactly be painted blue and look like he jumped off the page, but he delivers every syllable thoughtfully and deliberately.

Hollis Mason – Richard Jenkins

Richard Jenkins is great at being paternal but in a way that he casts a really wide net. He’s got the booze-soaked to comedic effect over-the-hill thing down pretty good, but he is also great as the warm-hearted mentor who is jut waiting to pass on his experiences. Mason is a bit of both. He trusts the new Nite-Owl, and he puts on a brave face as a happy retiree. He struggles with his best days being behind him though. Jenkins can do that level of self-deprecation in his sleep.

Sally Jupiter – Katey Sagal

I wasn’t crazy about Gugino’s direction in the Snyder flick. She was so over the top like she was the matriarch of a crappy soap opera family. Sagal is a little more ruthless in her role as the matriarch of the Sons of Anarchy. She fueled a lot of rage and eternal maternal instincts with a fear of being replaced, which seems very important to the Sally Jupiter character. More of a targeted passive aggressiveness towards Laurie instead of just obliviousness.