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watchmen looking glass

Watchmen introduced Wade Tillman, a.k.a. Looking Glass, early on in the HBO series and his backstory coincided with Adrian Veidt’s teleporting squid incident in 1985. Preaching about sinners to local amusement park goers, Wade ends up deceived and naked inside the hall of mirrors. He may have managed to avoid the psychic blast that killed everyone at the park, but Wade’s life was never the same again after that. However, Watchmen’s Tim Blake Nelson recently revealed that Looking Glass’ whole origin story was completely changed during filming.

Watchmen has been lauded by viewers and critics alike for its gripping story and exploration of race in the U.S. But, as Damon Lindelof mapped out what Wade’s storyline would be, the showrunner ended up scrapping the initial idea and rewrote Wade’s origin. That repurposed story was what viewers saw in the fifth episode, “Little Fear of Lightning,” which included the psychic blast that traumatized Wade for life.

At the point of the change, however, Watchmen had already wrapped filming on three of its nine episodes. What was Wade’s original backstory? Here’s what Tim Blake Nelson told EW Live:

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.

That certainly sounds interesting and would have gone hand-in-hand with Watchmen’s central story. We may never know what Wade being in an interracial relationship would have looked like onscreen, but I wouldn’t mind it if HBO released a featurette about the making of Watchmen to find out more about it.

All that said, Tim Blake Nelson ultimately believes that the change was “a better decision for the show as a whole.” Luckily for Nelson, Damon Lindelof altering Wade’s origin story after they’d already begun filming Watchmen didn’t actually change any of the major decisions he’d already made about how to play the character. Here’s how he put it:

I credit the fact that Damon and the writers, that even though they were going to change the backstory so dramatically, they were going to do it in a way that they wouldn’t screw their actor over and make the decisions I made suddenly incoherent. And they didn’t do that. And I was just very, very excited to play this new story in a way that wasn’t going to contravene anything I had done before.

That’s great news as I imagine it would’ve been hard for Tim Blake Nelson to start from scratch with his portrayal, especially since he’d already been playing Wade for three episodes. Honestly, Damon Lindelof sounds like a great and collaborative showrunner and it’s pretty awesome to hear about the details that ultimately became Watchmen.

Watchmen is currently available to stream on HBO Max. For more on what to watch, be sure to check out our 2020 summer TV schedule for premiere dates and times.

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