Watchmen Set Visit: Jackie Earle Haley

ComingSoon.net/Superhero Hype! talked to Jackie Earle Haley on the Vancouver set of Watchmen about playing Rorschach:

CS/SHH!: When we spotted you in the jail cell you were lifting weights, those things were incredibly heavy. You’ve been training for a while for this film.

Jackie Earle Haley:
Once Zack chose me and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am about that. I realized I needed to start gaining some weights and start lifting. I started on my own with my crew and my buddy Jason Clay, I was training with him. We were doing some isolated stuff and then my karate crew, we worked out together on that. When I got here, I started working with Clay who was also our still photographer. I actually started to learn a lot of great stuff about working out and eating. And a lot of it has to do with zone dietish type stuff. I discovered I was eating wrong. Way too many carbs and not enough protein. The concept of low fat doesn’t work well. And this program we’re working on is incredible because these guys know how to get a full workout in less than 30 minutes. I really discovered it’s high impact, you’re getting cardio and everything and you’re getting core training which amazed me. When I got here, I thought these guys would be all about getting the arms big. They were not worried about it, that would take care of itself. I love talking about it, I’m obsessed right now.

CS/SHH!: How are you dividing the character between Rorschach when he was on the kidnapping case and the ’85 Rorschach?

Haley:
How he was in the book. Not sure how to answer that. Except I think it’s only Rorschach and there is not Walter Kovacs. I think that everything conspired to make it that way. This guy never had a chance. He’s just one messed up individual. Every bit of vigilante work that he does is the inner child striking out. Smacking his mom in the face every time. I think some kids can grow up in an environment like that and survive it and be a normal, adjusted person to a degree. Function in society. And some people get a bit more twisted by it. Little Walter Kovacs didn’t stand much of a chance. I think as he started to grow older, there are those examples of gray, complexity, justification, started to amount to a point where it’s all just a bunch of bullsh*t. There’s right and there’s wrong. Mom needed to raise her kid. She needed to do certain things so she could make money. So she could feed this child and bring him up. But in so doing she’s resentful of him forcing him to have this responsibility. Mom’s justification is “Life is complex, Walter. Sure, I did some things but they justify what I was like.” This justification f**ked his life totally. And he recognizes that. The reason to justify the behavior is the gray.

CS/SHH!: Can you talk about emoting beneath the mask?

Haley:
We’re doing a little bit of everything. It depends on what’s going on with the camera, how far away it is. Sometimes I’m wearing the mask with tracking dots and my eyes are exposed. Sometimes I’m wearing a full Rorschach that’s fixed. Sometimes it’s dark, I can see all of you but it’s like throwing a neutral density filter up. This is an interesting aspect of the character. As an actor… a vast majority of my role is wearing a sock over my head. That’s different. When you look at it externally, there’s Jackie looking back at this character in the movie, I’ve got a sock on my head. But when I look at it from the character’s standpoint, it’s this cool empowering character-discovering process. I do find when I’m with the makeup and hair people and wardrobe design, when you’re going through that process, it’s incredible way of finding out about the character. It was neat watching Rorschach get built. At one point I had this whole helmet on my head and that wasn’t working out. But when all was said and done, we kept tweaking and dialing it in, one night I was doing the cemetery scenes, it’s cold. We’re here and it’s raining in Vancouver, but they’ve got these rain machines making big drops. There’s a shot where I’m walking up to the grave and there’s this huge light behind me. I was casting this perfect shadow on the ground and I just went, “Wow, jeez…” It was like I was in the cartoon, I was in the comic book and the lines were just so perfect. That was pretty empowering when that starts to come together. My mind is able to get deeper into the guy. It’s like walking onto a set like this, the world starts to come around you. This whole red head thing… it’s a transformation too.

CS/SHH!: How familiar were you with the source material?

Haley:
I’ve never been a huge comic book fan. Growing up, a lot of my friends were just really into comics and for some reason, I just discovered reading a lot later, when I was 15. I just started reading novels, I do recall seeing the characters, so I had heard about it. I recall three or four years ago I read people were suggesting me for this role. I think I flipped through a comic book, not the graphic novel. As this became a reality, I really dove into it. And I now want to read more graphic novels. Because you read this on a first pass and you’re like, “Wow this is really good.” Then you get into the depth on the second pass. At a certain point, I had to let it go so I could just focus on the Rorschach stuff. Because the book is so full of amazing depth and symbolism. All of that stuff you read just ties together.

CS/SHH!: Rorschach is the most popular character in the book, why do people take to him so much? Is it his complexity?

Haley:
I don’t know. I think maybe it gets back to what I was saying before. We all know we live in this complex world, but it’d be neat if things were a lot more simple. A lot of times, too, the complexity is in the eye of the beholder. Other people who have a third party perspective, it’s a lot more simple. I don’t know.

CS/SHH!: What’s it like working with Patrick again?

Haley:
Awesome. As a matter of fact, we were doing our first scene together and it was in Veidt’s place where we get there and are looking around. There I am in my sock and there he is in his goggles and I said, “Who would’ve guessed this sh*t about two years ago?” He started laughing. Hey in two years time we’re going to be standing here in these outfits!

Watchmen opens in conventional and IMAX theaters on March 6.

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Source: Ryan Rotten