Malin Akerman and Carla Gugino are the women of Watchmen. Both actresses portray characters that blow the female comic book film caricature away.
“It was a script that threw me for a loop. I didn’t know what had just happened to me,” Akerman says. The Swedish-born actress is in the middle of a pop culture firestorm currently with the arrival of The Watchmen in theaters March 6. She plays the graphic novel dual personalities Laurie Jupiter and Silk Spectre.
Akerman ascends to The Watchmen
“I ran out and got the graphic novel. I was blown away. It’s an amazing novel. The thing that was so nice about it was the script was so faithful to the source material “It’s hard when you make a film out of a novel because it’s easily botched,” Akerman says.
“When you first go to Comic-Con, you see the immense fan-base. It’s a bit of that added pressure that we’ve really got to do this right. Ultimately, we all became fans. I don’t think you can watch it and not become a fan. All that pressure was pressure we put on ourselves once we started filming and forgot about the outside world and delved into it. I hope that we could get everything in there that we possibly could. Now, I guess, the pressure’s on again. Not that everyone’s about to see it.”
Gugino’s Sin-ful past
Carla Gugino portrayed another graphic novel femme fatale in Sin City and of all the cast members, knows what to expect from the madness surrounding a blockbuster graphic novel to film project.
“I had a little taste of it at Comic-Con with Sin City. That was also a graphic novel that people were knew really well and a strong feelings about it. It also had filmmakers who want to make it really true to it,” Gugino says. “I definitely think this is to a larger extent. As an artist when you’re your own harshest critic, I think individually we wanted to do justice to our characters and to the world we were creating. We were in that mode. Like Mal (Akerman) said, now that we’re giving it to the world — it is an interesting feeling.”
Watching real women
Watchmen’s women are complex characters with multi-faceted issues. Whether dealing with a complicated relationship or finding true love, these are real emotions. “It’s about ‘let’s excavate, look below the surface.’ We have these costumes, yet we see who someone’s true soul is — exploring the shadow side of humanity and the light that is found,” Gugino says.
Capturing these emotions at their core was a task made easier by the rich source material – – the beloved graphic novel. “The nice thing that we kind of had all the material that you usually don’t get as source material,” Akerman says. “There was so much information coming at you – it was about organizing it in your head and making your own. I think the nice part was they all had I’ve been there, or you’ve heard of it, it’s an exploration of human nature at its worst and at its best. For me, it was like having a stage mom and having her push her into this world that might not be her first choice. Now we see her breaking up with one man, trying to find true love, trying to figure out who she is and find her own independence.”
Preparing for her role, Akerman has never worked harder physically. “It was full time,” she says.
Akerman and the cast had a month of rigorous workouts. “Physical training, you can’t hide much in that costume. They wanted to build up a bit of muscle. I trained with an ex-Navy seal which was pretty much boot camp. It was painful but ultimately it was exciting. When we got to the fight scene, we were learning a new craft, and it was pretty incredible. It was hard work but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty amazing. You wish you could do it in real life,” Akerman adds and laughs.
Don’t be fooled, what audiences witness onscreen is not as easy as it appears. “Of course when they (Navy Seals) do it, it looks amazing and when I do it I look like a ballerina trying to do it,” she says and laughs. “I wanted to do the stunts. I wanted to feel it.”
Akerman’s Silk Spectre is a picture of pure girl power. “She fights light a man and she’s a powerful woman,” she says. “She gives that female power. As a woman, I just go, ‘that’s really cool.’ I think she loves it. She has no mercy. Silk Spectre has no remorse – – a full on fighter.”
Then, there is the outfit. Posters of Akerman have been everywhere as have been the trailers. The actress spends part of the film as her alter-ego dressed in yellow latex. “The outfit is very provocative, but you know what I loved about her,” Ackerman says and pauses.
“She is one of the boys. A lot times you get a female character in a film full of men and she is therefore the sexuality of the female touch. Here she is one of the boys. She, for me, did not lead with her sexuality. For me she’s this innocent girl. It’s a story about coming of age. She’s been shut-in her whole life. She’s had a stage mom of types that has pushed her into a career that was not her own choice,” Akerman says.
When both actresses saw themselves in their Watchmen costumes, they knew they had found comic book vixen incarnate. Akerman and Gugino had a blast embracing their alter-ego’s outfits. Although, Akerman with her latex skimpy outfit, had a little more issue with the costuming.
“The costume was designed by her mother which is kind of crazy if you think about it. My mother would never put me in something like that and put me out on the streets,” Akerman says and laughs. “Essentially, she starts to own it. Again, for me, it wasn’t about leading with that sexuality. The costume spoke for itself. It’s a bit of a diversion for crime-fighting. But, I loved it. I loved playing Laurie for all those reasons that she ended up being such a real hopefully women will go see this film and hopefully she’ll be one of the reasons that feel they can connect that love story. That reality of we all go through heartbreak and soul searching in our lives. All these things are relatable and raw and she gets to have the fun a few boys in the film which isn’t all that bad.”