NORTH HOLLYWOOD, California — When Zack Snyder came to the taping of MTV's movie special, he knew the name was "Spoilers." And sure enough, host Tim Kash didn't disappoint as he hosted a Q&A for the 300 lucky [movie id="302856"]"Watchmen"[/movie] fans in attendance who had just seen the film three weeks before the rest of the world.
"The ending," Tim said. "Discuss."
"Where should I start?" the affable "300" director laughed, more than willing to go where most filmmakers never would.
The thing is, "Watchmen" is based on the greatest graphic novel ever written. And the director made what might be the single bravest move in the history of Hollywood when he agreed to shoot the "unfilmable" movie — which came out so lovingly reverential to Alan Moore's source material that huge chunks are refreshingly loyal to his nihilistic, anti-commercial, ultra-violent tale.
As sacrilegious as it might be to say, however, Snyder wasn't afraid to change some key "Watchmen" elements and make them more cinematic. And — spoiler alert! — he was happy to talk to us about his different-than-the-novel ending.
"There is a couple of things, I think, interesting about the ending," Snyder explained to our audience, making reference to the giant alien monster he removed from Moore's story. "One, if you want to know about the squid — well, he makes a small appearance. If you notice, [Dr. Manhattan's] reactor is actually called the Sub Quantum Unifying Intrinsic Device. You see that sign [with the S.Q.U.I.D. acronym] if you look carefully in Adrian's [lair]; it's in the consoles, and it's also behind the thing when it gets teleported."
A cool Easter egg to be sure — but for fans who want a better explanation, Snyder obliged: "The reason that the squid got taken out of the movie was so there'd be more Rorschach and a little bit more Manhattan. Because we did the math, and we figured it took about 15 minutes to explain [the squid's appearance] correctly; otherwise, it's pretty crazy."
So, with the studio's requests that Snyder keep his "Watchmen" movie as brief as possible given the novel's complexity, the squid bit the dust. He did, however, have enough time to fully explore the steamy love story between Patrick Wilson and Malin Akerman — and depict the duo's characters fully exploring each other.
"Was it somewhat awkward to film that scene with Night Owl and Silk Spectre in Archie?" a "Spoilers" audience member asked Snyder.
"Awkward in what way?" the director laughed while discussing the nude scene. "It is always awkward when you have people that you know as friends. ... When they're casual buddies, it's like, 'Hey, that was awesome yesterday how we played football. That was cool. Now, do you mind taking your clothes off?' That's really hard. But they're pros, and they helped me out ... and the other thing is that they're not too hard to look at."
And speaking of nudity, Snyder also laughed with the fans during several questions about the fact that Billy Crudup's aloof, God-like superhero Dr. Manhattan has moved so far beyond humanity that he often doesn't even feel the need to wear pants.
"I said this from the beginning; I warned the studio," Snyder grinned, making reference to Crudup's little Billy. "Part of John's character is that he doesn't care anymore, so why should he put clothes on when he is not connecting with humanity? I said, 'He is just going to be naked.'
"The hardest part was just ... " he paused, choosing his words carefully. "There is a meticulous design in the film; you have to carefully observe every aspect of this movie. I hope I don't have to go into more detail than that. [Studying Manhattan's crotch] was more awkward, by the way, than the other [Nite Owl/ Silk Spectre nudity] thing. But Billy's happy, so it's fine."
Clearly, Snyder's attention to detail throughout "Watchmen" — from the information-overload opening credits to the in-joke programs on Ozymandias' TV sets to Crudup's crotch — were greatly appreciated by the die-hard "Watchmen" fans in attendance at our "Spoilers" taping. One of the more touching moments of the evening, in fact, came from a questioner who loved the film so much that the man asked Snyder how to become a filmmaker like him.
"This is a serious question, and so I want to take it seriously," Snyder began, clearly touched. "[The most important thing] for anyone who picks up a camera and decides to film any sort of story is that they feel strongly about it. The most important thing is to just do it your way, because no one knows that perspective but you, and it's the point of view of a movie that makes it cool.
"Just do it your way," the "Watchmen" filmmaker finished, looking back on his experience navigating the dangerous, contradictory waters of studios and superfans. "Trust yourself."
Check out everything we've got on "Watchmen."
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