Before Zack Snyder finally delivered his Watchmen adaptation in 2009, the film spent years in development hell. For nearly two decades, the project cycled through several different studios and directors. One of these directors was David Hayter, who’s credited as a co-screenwriter on Snyder’s version. Hayter was originally enlisted to write and direct the movie himself, and he even shot some test footage featuring some recognizable faces playing Rorschach and Nite Owl. Now, that footage is available to watch online.
Hayter shot the footage in 2003 and cast Ray Stevenson as Rorschach and Iain Glen as Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II. The scene adapts the characters’ first meeting in the Watchmen comic, where Rorschach informs Dan of the Comedian’s murder. Because of the film’s shoestring budget, the inkblot pattern on Rorschach’s mask doesn’t move and we don’t get to see Nite Owl’s basement lair. However, Rorschach does open up a secret passage to Dan’s Owl Cave behind a bookshelf. Hayter also emphasized Dan’s wariness of his former crime-fighting partner by having him arm himself with a kitchen knife just in case.
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Producers Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin hired Hayter to tackle Watchmen for Universal in 2001. The film eventually relocated to Revolution Studios. But by 2004, Hayter had left the project completely. When Warner Bros. ultimately regained the distribution rights, they hired Alex Tse to rewrite Hayter’s script with Snyder directing.
Neither Stevenson nor Glen were cast in Snyder’s Watchmen movie. Regardless, both actors found different comic book characters to play in the years to come. Stevenson starred as the title character in Punisher: War Zone in 2008, and later played Volstagg in Marvel’s Thor films. Glen, who went on to have great success on Game of Thrones, is currently playing Bruce Wayne on Titans.
You can view Hayter’s Watchmen test footage below, then tell us what you think in the comment section!
Recommended Reading: Watchmen