(Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan)

Billy Crudup is a well-respected actor with a variety of roles to his credit. Science fiction fans may know him best as estranged son Will Bloom from Tim Burton's Big Fish, but he's also had prominent roles in Almost Famous, Without Limits, The Good Shepherd, and Stage Beauty.

(Spoiler Alert: While nothing is overtly revealed here, the conversation assumes that readers are familiar with the graphic novel. )

Q: Billy, talk about the experience of being the only guy in a motion capture suit for the film. Was it a burden?

Billy Crudup: It was a burden for about the first day, until I saw what everyone else had to go through to get into their costumes. They also had to work out, and watch what they were eating, and all that. After that, I was just happy as a clam. I basically just came in, put on my pajamas, stood on my apple box, and tried to figure out Dr. Manhattan.

Q: How did [director] Zack Snyder approach you with the material?

BC: He just sent me the script. It was pretty mundane, actually. I had never heard of the graphic novel, though I recognized the cover because my brother is a big graphic novel fan and I remember seeing it in his apartment. I was shocked by the script. They told me that it was about superheroes basically, and I had all these superficial expectations for what a movie or a graphic novel about superheroes would be like. I've read a lot of those scripts. And this subverted every one of those expectations from the first page, which got me so excited. When I met Zack, I just sat back and let him operate. He showed me every single frame of what he was going to do, and his enthusiasm was just infectious.

Q: You're playing an omnipotent being. Do you have to bring humanity to the role, or do you just completely detach?

BC: I think the graphic novel and the screenplay attempt to ask that question and answer it at the same time. So the experience of playing Dr. Manhattan was the experience of asking that question each and every day. Does he have any humanity left? I think mostly, he was distracted by what--to him--was a higher order of problems. How does the universe operate? How do particles fundamentally function? He's grappling with these giant issues and yet he's asked to be a dutiful man at the same time by his government. So he was trying to attend to both of those and trying to maintain a relationship at the same time. Ultimately, I think he discovers that he's no longer as interested in people as he is in the universe at large.

(Matthew Goode as Ozymandias )

Matthew Goode has made a promising beginning to his career with roles in Woody Allen's Match Point and Scott Frank's The Lookout. The two are appearing in the upcoming adaptation of the classic Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel Watchmen, with Crudup playing Dr. Manhattan and Goode Ozymandias. They sat down at this year's San Diego Comic Con to answer questions about the film and their roles.

Q: What was the experience of meeting thousands of fans at the Comic Con?

Matthew Goode: I couldn't believe it. You come in backstage, behind this curtain and you can just hear this wall of noise. 7,000 people murmuring . . . and then 7,000 people cheering. For me at least, there were these horrible worries about intellectual inferiority, because everyone out there knows the book so well. But then you see the footage and the reaction, and the fears are all dispelled. It made me start thinking that this could be--and hopefully will be--a really seminal piece of work. Maybe that's assuming a bit too much, but it should be like the book itself. I hope it can be that good.

Of course, if I'm being cynical--which I usually am-- I'd say that we're getting ahead of things. We're talking about the trailer--and I'm probably doing a disservice to it by saying so--but the trailer isn't the movie. We haven't seen the scenes yet. We haven't seen how the characters interact and we haven't seen the full flesh of who they are. Obviously, the cast and crew saw them on set because of the interaction that we had, but we'll have to see. I want to see that world, I want to see how it comes together. And I have faith in Zack's ability to bring it to us.

Q: Did you find yourself still liking Ozymandias after what he does at the end of the picture?

MG: I do. You can say he's much maligned. And everyone has their own arguments about what he does. Quite rightly, too: there are only gray areas with him. Nothing's black and white. One of the things I love about him is the difference between the public persona and the private persona. There's this intense isolation around him. He only has one real friend--Dr. Manhattan--who he doesn't really think twice abut killing. That's who he is. He's a very practical man and there's no great plan coming from anybody else about how to save the world. He has a solution, but it's cold and it's real and it is an equation. Killing millions to save billions. It's quite mathematical really.

(by Rob Vaux)



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