Watchmen, the beloved Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel, has come to life again, but this time on HBO and with a new and welcome addition: Detective Angela Abar A.K.A. Sister Night (Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk). If you envision a badass, you’ll get one, as Angela is fierce, bold, brilliant, loving and layered — everything I want to see more of in black women onscreen, but particularly in my vigilantes as well.
The Beat was on hand to talk to Oscar-winning powerhouse Regina King about her reservations in bringing this new character to an already established fanbase, her personal conversations with showrunner Damon Lindelof and he how integrates parts of her own journey into the character’s arc, her onscreen portrayal of a great black couple that smashes gender roles, and more!
On what drew her to the project
“Damon Lindelof! You know he saw me as leading the charge. It’s so funny saying that because this is truly there’s so much going on and it goes from an ensemble at times to just following one character’s story. But Damon wrote me this lovely letter attached to a script that said “I can’t see doing this with anyone but you,” and here we are.”
On the pressure of bringing Detective Angela Abar/Sister Night to an already popular universe
“It was less pressure because I think everyone that I’ve talked to that loves comic books, Watchmen is somewhere in their top five and there’s not a person that I’ve talked to that has not read the graphic novel. So that could be terrifying. You know even if it’s a small audience when it’s devoted fans, it can be very loud. So, I needed to make sure that, with the help of Nicole and Damon, that this connection that we’ll discover along the way is clear and rewarding. But I kind of got to create my own thing. So that’s awesome. Most times when you see an adaptation of something – and this is not an adaptation it’s you know using the source material to kick things off – but usually people have to honor something that exists a bit and I didn’t have to do that, I just got to make her this badass chick.”
On what we will find out about Angela’s background and ancestral journey throughout the series
“You know I think one of the things that’s so amazing about Damon is he is is taking subject matter that is very close to me and to my history. The beautiful thing about he and I having a relationship prior to this is that I’m able to be there to say no you’re right on and you are touching on what needs to be touched on.
But it will continue down that journey and I think again there’s a great reward.”
On going from the heaviness of Seven Seconds to playing a detective in Watchmen
“Seven Seconds was heavy you know and I wouldn’t call Watchmen light, but it is an alternate universe actually, touching on things that are happening now. How things that have happened has gotten us to where we are in this universe that we’re in. So, it was a bit of a relief telling another story that does involve law enforcement but from a totally different lens. While they both could be called dark, it was a relief to not be the grieving mom.”
On Angela & Cal’s relationship and Cal’s portrayal of a man who trusts his wife and partner, no questions asked
“Yahya (Abdul-Mateen II) had a lot to do with that. First of all, we have amazing chemistry. You know there is that moment just as an actor where you say ‘Well, wouldn’t I ask a question?’ And yet he never felt to him that he should be concerned. It takes a very confident man as an actor, and Cal as a character, to be like, ‘she’s got this’ and still feel manly. And I think Yahya couldn’t have done a better job of capturing the two. He still feels like the strong husband, but he’s still like my wife’s the shit and she got this.”
On her mother-son relationship with Topher
“As humans we all have a masculine and feminine side, we can’t exist without both. And some of us lean more to towards one side than the other. And I think Topher and Angela are kind of at the same place in their masculine and femininity inside. So, there is a kind of a no bullshit clause that comes along with just the essence of who they are, and when you have that, you identify with it quickly when you see it in someone else. So, we just kind of saw it as they got to know these children. They saw each other’s pain they saw each other’s everything immediately. Dylan (Schombing), the young man that plays Topher, we got to spend a lot of time together. We spent so much time in the car him telling silly jokes, you know me not getting some of them. Nikki was very smart in putting us together before we started shooting. And I think that that’s what you see that in the performances, you know you really trusted me. So, when it was those moments where he’s supposed to be hard with me you still feel the love because Dylan and I trusted each other and that should and did reflect in the performances.”
On the physicality and training for the role
“People always ask me about the training for this role, but I stay ready! You never know what’s going to go down. it wasn’t really so much a lot of physical training as much as it was a lot of communication between Nicole, my stunt double, Sadiqua and our stunt coordinator, Justin. We’d worked with Justin before on Leftovers, so he knew what I could do. He knows what my strengths are and he really spent a lot of time with Sadiqua to know what her strengths are, and every single one of those sequences that you’ll see in the future and now have been choreographed to Sadiqua and Regina’s strengths.”
Watchmen is much more than people realize and for her part, Regina King knocks it out of the park, giving Angela/Sister Night her own agency. For a new character, Angela fits into the universe perfectly and add her own colorful dimensions to a cast and story with a rich history. While I have no idea where the story will end in season 1, I am excited to see more of Angela’s personal arc unfold.