By now, you’ve either grown to love or hate Looking Glass on Watchmen (leaping from the events of the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel), all for very specific reasons and yet we still have more questions than answers when it comes to this character. While violent, he is also a man a few words, troubled by traumatic young adulthood and failed marriage. Up until recently, we assumed, loyal. Tim Blake Nelson (The Incredible Hulk) chatted with The Beat about his character and what it’s like to step into his shoes.
Tim is no stranger to playing lawmen, but Wade Tillman/Looking Glass is unlike any lawman he’s ever portrayed. On the comparison to his other roles, namely Buster Scruggs, Nelson told us: “I’ve never thought about it but I guess the kinship between Wade and Buster Scruggs (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs) resides in vigilantism and in ad-hoc justice because each character embraces a philosophy of extrajudicial retribution, but I’d never thought of it. Obviously, the tone is very different in the two projects, but I guess that’s what’s really interesting. I’ve got about getting to act in a lot of different projects. I’m in this other movie Just Mercy, that’s coming out this Christmas. It’s about the abuse of the legal system and the impact that has had on the African-American community on death row, based on the work of Bryan Stevenson. And so, I guess each project we end up doing becomes a kind of custom job.”
Looking Glass wears a very interesting costume, and is a very serious person, so how did Nelson manage between takes? He told us: “I laughed a lot working with Jean because her character was great and we have such funny interactions. So, there was a lot of choking back laughter when doing scenes with her, because you crack up at the ludicrousness of some of the situations in which you find yourself. But on the converse, you know when to be serious. The mask was a good challenge and I think as actors it’s always best to embrace and internalize the challenges, rather than to resist them. And so, I think it made the character more interesting to play.”
Damon has written such nuanced characters on this show and Looking Glass is no different. We’ve seen some of his secrets, but on more of Wade’s complexities and continued development, Nelson revealed: “Wade/ Looking Glass is afflicted by trauma in his past that informs who and what he is, and even what mask he chooses to wear. What’s great about getting to play this character is that I was learning about him as the show went along. Damon was formulating it based on our collaboration with the character. It’s great to be in the hands of a storyteller like Damon and to be able to trust him and know that what you’re going to learn about your character as the season goes on, will mirror much in the way that we learn about ourselves in life, as we’re confronted with different realities and challenges. It is really intriguing and makes the work quite exciting.”
With such heavy subject matter on the show and more layers of the dark underbelly of society being revealed each episode, native Tulsan Tim told us: “Well I guess to a degree I’m lucky in the character of Looking Glass because he’s unlike most of the other characters I’ve played. While most of my other characters have been verbose, Wade is withholding, very quiet, and laconic, which I’ve found to be a really rewarding process after so many extravagant talker roles.”
He continued: “I also have lived through an enormous change of racial statics as not only an American but particularly as a Tulsan. When I grew up, it was overt racism everywhere and it pervaded. And thankfully, it’s not so much like that anymore. But that journey I think has been a long one for a lot of people, but I’m old enough to have experienced real, palpable, pervasive quotidian racism, just no other way of putting it.”
With just one episode left until the finale, will we find out where Looking Glass is? What side is he really on? Can anyone actually trust him? What else lies ahead for him in Tulsa? Guess we have to keep watching to see. See Tim Blake Nelson on Watchmen, only on HBO, and don’t miss our continuing here at The Beat.