Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen has many indelible creations. There’s the gloriously complicated, egotistical yet beguiling Lady Trieu. The heartbreaking Looking Glass. And, of course, the mystery-surrounding Lube Man, who despite a very brief appearance captured the hearts of a delighted audience. But it is Angela Abar, played by Regina King, who is the crown jewel of the resolutely weird, politically trenchant series.
Angela Abar synthesizes Watchmen’s interest in a host of subjects: anti-black racism in America, the nature of generational trauma, the wear that occurs on one’s spirit when wearing a mask. She’s a perceptive, challenging, and inspiring character in no small part because of the way Regina King has brought her to life. King has proved herself to be one of the finest actors working, whether it be on television with Watchmen, or in film like 2018’s If Beale Street Could Talk, which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. I spoke briefly to King this week about what motivated Angela in the Watchmen finale, whether she’d return for another season, and the show’s hardest scene to film.
When I spoke to Damon Lindelof about the Watchmen finale, he said, “If in fact, Angela Abar is now empowered by the legacy of Will and the legacy of Doctor Manhattan, she is ready to take on white supremacy in a way that Doctor Manhattan was never interested in taking on.” Did you and Damon talk about Angela’s potential future and what the world would look like if she got Doctor Manhattan’s powers?
No, we did not.
Why did Angela eat the egg? Why would she want to inherit his power?
Well, I’ll be 100 percent honest with you: I did not realize that was the intention of the writers, that she only wanted to inherit his powers. For me, it was the ultimate love story. She was just heartbroken at the result of their relationship. Even though she already knew what the future was, and was told what the future was, she [believed she] could change it all the way to the very, very end. I looked at it not just as her inheriting his powers, but it was one more moment to feel him.
That was my interpretation of it — until I was told that it wasn’t. [Laughs.] I think it all worked out both ways. Both interpretations work.
Let’s talk about Angela’s love story with Doctor Manhattan. What is the nature of their relationship, given that it mostly takes place when he is living as Cal? That’s an interesting wrinkle to their love.
One could look at it as a wrinkle. I think a lot of other women could look at it like, “Wow, wouldn’t that be amazing!” [Laughs.] In all honesty, I know some people received the idea of Angela quickly, willingly wanting to [take] on his powers as a big jump. But I feel like the power trip came ten years ago when she realized that there was going to be an erasure of his memory. That’s literally controlling your relationship. You’re creating what his memories are. That’s where the power trip could have started, in my mind.
I never thought of it like that, but that makes sense. Why do you think Angela fell in love with Doctor Manhattan in the first place?
There were similarities [with their] loneliness. Angela, although she was lonely, she’s such a smart woman, such a perceptive woman. She had her relationships, but there was just no one remotely interesting to her. Like the Dos Equis man, Doctor Manhattan is the most interesting man in the world. [Laughs.] He had some really odd things to say, but the confidence with which he would say them is the most attractive thing. Confidence is one of the most attractive personality traits anyone can I have. Doctor Manhattan has it in spades. For a woman like Angela, who else can get her attention other than the most confident man in the world?
Another fascinating aspect of Angela’s story is her relationship with anger. In the wake of meeting Will, seeing the memories of his life, and talking to him in the finale, how have her feelings changed?
That whole arc is quite beautiful. This is me giving my hats off to the writers. It’s not just the relationship with anger, it’s the relationship with pain and trauma that is carried on for years. Here’s a young woman whose life started as great and as normal as any Army brat’s life would have been. Then the most traumatic experience hit her. Then it hit her again just when she was about to begin a recovery from it.
That trauma her grandfather experienced and her great-grandparents experienced, that pain was passed down. As black people in America, especially, we have inherited so much pain and we don’t even understand it. Her having that drink to commemorate her parents’ death was her trying to release that [pain], for however many years she was doing that. But she couldn’t let it go. Experiencing her grandfather’s experiences with trauma, in some weird way, was helping to release that trauma. And he’s actually there. So, there’s a part of you that has to think, Wow, what a beautiful thing they’re going to be able to get through that together.
If given the opportunity, would you do another season?
Yes, I would absolutely. I know that Damon doesn’t even kinda have an idea of an entry point and an ending for a second season. And I know he wouldn’t come onboard for a second season unless he did. I don’t want there to be a second season if it’s not going to at least be comparable to this first season, which is going to be really hard to do.
What was the hardest scene for you, and how did you prepare for it?
Probably the scene when Doctor Manhattan died because Yahya [Abdul-Mateen II] and I have such great chemistry and we were so close throughout shooting the series. Every time I read that scene, it was heartbreaking. I didn’t want to overtalk it, but I knew I had to be in the right space. I had to distance myself from Yahya throughout shooting that last episode, which was tough because we were so close throughout. Yahya may not even realize it because I don’t think I ever told him I was purposely distancing myself from him. He probably just thought, Why is she so weird now? We were so close! [Laughs.]