After three decades, a half-dozen directors and so many casting rumors that we’ve lost count, director Zack Snyder (“300″) sent a video diary from Canada last week message that loyal fans never thought they’d hear: Cameras have begun rolling on a “Watchmen” film. Now, one of his stars is speaking for the first time about her role.
“I’m so excited to be in this movie,” grinned Malin Akerman, who makes a comedic splash in this weekend’s “The Heartbreak Kid,” and will follow it up by slipping into the canary-colored costume of the Silk Spectre.
For those unfamiliar with the series by Alan Moore, “Watchmen” is set in 1985 and tells the tale of a group of heroes living in a version of the U.S. where costumed avengers are not only real, but banned by our government. As a nuclear war with the Soviet Union nears, the heroes must grapple with their own existential problems while simultaneously solving the mystery of who’s killing them one by one (see “Director Zack Snyder On ’Watchmen’ Flick: ’I Don’t Wanna Screw It Up’ “ ).
“I’ve actually been up [to the the Vancouver, British Columbia, set] fight-training,” Akerman said. “So far I look like a ballerina fighting, but hopefully at one point I’ll look kick-ass.”
Judging by her bikini-clad bod in “Heartbreak” (and a now-classic seduction scene as Freakshow’s wife in “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”), Akerman already has the assets of Laurie Juspeczyk, the leggy heroine who goes into the “family business” of crime-fighting. After being sheltered by her mother, Sally Jupiter (Carla Gugino), Laurie takes on her mom’s “Silk Spectre” moniker and uncovers quite a bit of nastiness as she navigates between lovers Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) and the Night-Owl (Patrick Wilson) and assists in the frantic investigation of the superheroes’ murder.
“It’s not your typical superhero film,” she said of the flick, due in theaters March 6, 2009. “We don’t, per se, have superhero powers. We’re just vigilantes, fighting off crime. It’s all about the [Vietnam] war and real issues — and there’s a lot of psychology to it.”
Once again, Akerman has mastered the art of the understatement: Boasting boundary-breaking themes of science, mental processing, philosophy and even theology, “Watchmen” is the only comic book ever to be named on Time magazine’s list of the 100 greatest novels, alongside the likes of “The Catcher in the Rye,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Great Gatsby.”
“It’s an amazing script, with great actors and a great director,” Akerman said. “[Snyder] is a big fan of the Watchmen, so he’s going to do it justice, I promise.”
Out of all the eye-popping images in the Dave Gibbons-illustrated comic, however, Akerman is most looking forward to filming those opposite her god-like blue beau, Dr. Manhattan. “I can’t wait to be on Mars,” she gushed, citing contemplative moments that have Manhattan pondering the imminent destruction of Earth and whether he should intervene. “I can’t wait to see how they’re going to do that. … [I want to see] that glass house that Dr. Manhattan has built for himself. That’s going to be quite a thing to build and [augment] with CGI.”
In the meantime, Akerman is toning herself up for what will oddly be both her first action film and her most dramatic role to date. “Silk Spectre, she’s a vigilante fighting crime. She’s a kick-ass femme fatale but is also the psychology of the story,” she said of the script. “[Laurie Juspeczyk] is the only woman in the Watchmen, so she carries the emotions throughout the film and is dealing with not being a vigilante anymore. She goes through a breakup [with Dr. Manhattan], and she goes through many things.
“But she’s also a great fighter, so you’ve got to watch out,” the model/actress said. “[Snyder and his crew] have started shooting their first week, and I start October 15, so I’m going back up there to continue my fight-training. And then I’ll get in there and kick some ass!”
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