HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ was both a ratings hit and critically acclaimed, so it’s definitely a series that many are eyeing to score some Emmy love. As members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences prepare to cast their votes, the cast and creators of ‘Watchmen’ are making the rounds to drum up support.
One of the most popular characters on ‘Watchmen’ was Looking Glass, a.k.a. Wade Tillman, portrayed by Tim Blake Nelson. While on the surface, Looking Glass seemed to be a stand-in for Rorschach, Tillman was much better-adjusted, although he did have a trauma in his past. As shown in Episode 5, “Little Fear of Lightning,” Tillman was near New York when Ozymandias’ giant killer squid appeared, killing millions with a psychic shockwave, but ushering in world peace as the nations of the world deescalated their arms race against each other, as they now feared a greater threat was coming from another dimension.
Wade was a gangly teenage Jehovah’s Witness attempting to save souls at a carnival in New Jersey. A female seductress lured him into the house of mirrors, convinced him to get undressed, and then took his clothes, leaving him trapped naked inside. However, unwittingly, the woman saved his life. Wade felt a bit of the psychic shock, but not much. But upon emerging from the house of mirrors, he found the ground covered with the dead bodies of everyone who had been outside when the squid invasion occurred.
This event led Wade to eventually become the masked detective Looking Glass back in his native Tulsa, OK, the show’s main setting. But as Nelson revealed to EW, Wade’s origin changed from when the show started filming to that one.
“I had been operating under different assumptions about why he was a detective and what his story was. And based on the first three episodes, Damon and the writers changed their minds about what originally they envisioned for the reveal of who Wade was in episode 5.
“The backstory was entirely different. 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.”
Considering how much of ‘Watchmen’ revolved around race, maybe this was seen as being excessive. And it was a great idea to tie Tillman’s past into the climactic event of the original graphic novel. (The HBO series followed the source material, not the 2009 movie.)
“Damon changed his mind about that and instead put Wade’s sexual awakening back at the time of the squid attack in 1985 in the original Watchmen novel. I think that was a better decision for the show as a whole and really smart writing.”
Nelson stated that the change in his character’s backstory didn’t alter his portrayal. Speaking of which, you think Nelson should be nominated for an Emmy for his performance as Looking Glass?
‘Watchmen’ is available to stream on HBO Max and is also available on DVD and BluRay.