Regina King on Stepping Into the 'Badass' Shoes of Sister Night on HBO's 'Watchmen' (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
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We've got a new badass on TV, and her name is Sister Night.
Regina King stars as the anti-hero on Damon Lindelof's upcoming adaptation of Watchmenfor HBO, and as she told ET's Leanne Aguilera at the show's New York City press day, she's been waiting quite a while to bring this kind of character to screen.
"I think I got a little teary eyed," King recalled of seeing the first rendering of her costume. "I... just was like, 'Wow. First I wait till I'm almost 50 to be a superhero' -- hey, I'm not going to question the universe -- and then I thought, 'Wow, Damon really trusts me.'"
Lindelof's adaptation is certainly his take on the comic -- but that's not to say it ignores past iterations. The new show doesn't alter any of the events that occur in its source material. For those familiar with the comic, Ozymandias (Jeremy Irons) and Laurie Jupiter (Jean Smart) are still around, though she now goes by Laurie Blake. Doctor Manhattan's presence is felt, and so is Rorschach; the latter is still dead, but his legacy is seen through a white supremacist group wearing his mask in tribute.
The Watchmen series is set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where being a masked vigilante is illegal, unless you're working for a government agency. King plays Tulsa Police detective Angela Abar aka Sister Night.
"This costume went through a lot of iterations," King described, adding that the costume was a collaboration between herself, wardrobe designer Sharen Davis and Lindelof (who told ET his idea for the costume was a "super cool nun").
"When Damon sent me the pilot script, there was an envelope tucked in a certain page so I, like anybody, went to that page and on the envelope it said, 'Regina do not open this until you get to this page. Don't cheat.' That just makes me want to cheat, but I didn't so I put it back in and I read ...It's the page that introduces Sister Night, and so I opened the envelope and it was an artist rendering of me in the costume and I got chills," she remembered. "We just went from there sending videos to [director] Nicole [Kassell] as I would do different fittings... and we landed with this badass costume. When I sent my son the picture, he was like 'Yo, mom!' So, I'm officially a cool mom now."
The action starts for Sister Night pretty quickly in the series, but for Kassell, it was important to take time to showcase Angela's personality.
"It was like, 'Who is she?' She's born in Vietnam, she's here in a classroom playing the part of mom, and to me, that is a performance more than almost maybe Sister Knight," Kassell told ET, noting she thought hard about the character's "Clark Kent" reveal and their own version of the "bat cave" -- which viewers won't have to wait too long to see. "[We were] just going for reveal and making it as awesome and energetic, kickass as possible."
King proudly said she's "always in shape," so getting to kick butt didn't take that much preparation. "We didn't have to go through this rigorous preparation to get my body in place to wear something that is going to show every little everything. My costume is not the costume that has the built in abs," she pointed out with a laugh.
"It is not," Kassell confirmed.
"It definitely required someone to already to be fit, but we have an amazing stunt coordinator," King said of Justin Riemer, whom she had worked with on another Lindelof series, The Leftovers. Her stunt double, Sadiqua Bynum, ended up being the perfect fit.
"Nicole and I had conversations -- I was like, ' I don't want anyone to ever think it's not me,' so it took a while to find Sadiqua, someone who had the ability, but also was built like me," King explained. "So once Justin learned her strengths, he just coordinated sequences that played to both of our strengths so we could move in and out seamlessly."
Aside from the action, Watchmen is packed with story -- and Easter Eggs. But for those unfamiliar with the comic, Lindelof has just a few sentences of setup: "[Audiences] should probably know that in November of 1985, an enormous alien squid landed in the middle of New York City and killed 3 million people. That's probably the only thing you need to know."
"If that sounds weird, you've come to the right place," he told ET.