If you asked Regina King, the 14-year-old star of 227, what she wanted to accomplish in her career, she probably wouldn't have said be a three-time Emmy winner, a Golden Globe winner and an Oscar winner. Instead, she'd probably tell you she just wanted to play a superhero. It's been a dream of hers since watching Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, a dream that came true in 2019 with Watchmen.
Now, Watchmen is back with a DVD set (out now) filled with special features, prompting King to revisit her time with Angela Abar aka Sister Night. Warning, the below contains spoilers for the miniseries created by Damon Lindelof, as does the exclusive sneak peek of the DVD's special features above.
King's first acting job was in the sitcom 227 opposite Jackée Harry and Marla Gibbs. She was 14 years old when she got the gig and hasn't stopped working since. In 2019 she headlined Watchmen, an HBO series based on the acclaimed comic series of the same name, won a Golden Globe and an Oscar, both for If Beale Street Could Talk. This followed her 2018 Emmy win for Seven Seconds. But back in 1985, all this acclaim was the furthest thing from her mind, she just wanted to work.
"You know, I wasn't thinking of it that far in advance, 'cause I was just a kid. I think more than anything I was just really present and wanted to do my job and do it well. I was very much aware that doing a good job here was going to possibly determine what the next thing was going to be, or if I'm going to be wanted to do another thing, another project. But you know, at 14, 15 years old, you look at things as, 'I got to do a good job.' That's just kind of how your mind at that age works...Very present, you know, 'I want to get a gold star now.' So, that's kind of where I was with it," King told E! News. "One thing that I will say probably remained consistent from 14 to now 49 was that I wanted to play a superhero that never changed. I always wanted to do that."
That chance came with Watchmen, an experience that went "beyond" her expectations.
"Now here's the thing, probably if you asked the 14-year-old me what I wanted to have played, 'Do you want to play Sister Night?' I would have thought that the name was cool, but I was not mature enough to understand that someone heroic could have that many complexities. So, that's the reason why I say it was beyond what I could have ever imagined—in a positive way—because all of the things I've learned along the way from a teenager to now, I was able to employ them in some way in Angela," King said.
SISTER NIGHT RISES
The role of Angela Abar, a police officer who enforces the law as a masked hero named Sister Night in Tulsa, Oklahoma in a time when masked heroes and vigilantes are outlawed following the events of the Watchmen comic series. Following an attack by the white supremacist group inspired by the character Rorschach, officers in Tulsa began wearing masks to conceal their identities. The series followed Angela as she discovered her history tied with some of America's first masked heroes and the Tulsa race massacre of 1921, as well as her relationship with the all-powerful hero Doctor Manhattan.
For many viewers, the Tulsa race massacre, sometimes referred to as the Black Wall Street Massacre, when white people attacked, displaced and killed black residents and of black-owned businesses in the Greenwood area of Tulsa, was something they were unaware of. It's not widely taught in history classes, so Watchmen was their first exposure to the atrocity.
"I did know about it. Luckily, my mother's a teacher and so we would get lessons on things that were not in the history books," King said. "I think that was one of the things for Damon...was that he felt so ashamed that he didn't even know. But the reality is, it wasn't taught, it was left out, ignored. When the people that are actually the ones that are inflicting the pain and doing the crime are also the journalists, are the ones that are reporting on it, then of course it's going to be erased."
Lindelof began writing the series in 2017, it started filming in 2018 and hit the air in late 2019. Eight months later, Watchmen is even more relevant as protests around the world call for systemic changes following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of police officers.
Revisiting her work on the series with Emmy buzz swirling, King said her feelings on Angela, a type of character she previously said she had never encountered anything like before, and the project have not changed.
"No, not at all because the thing about it is, I'm speaking from just my own experience. Maybe someone else has seen a character like Angela before and I just didn't see whatever it was that they saw, or I didn't receive it the same way," King said in an interview before nation-wide protests started. For King, "someone who has always wanted to play a superhero," the experience was all the more special because Sister Night didn't have any "supernatural powers"—at least not yet—which made the character all the more "heroic" and a "complex crimefighter."
"Her origin story, she discovering it as we're discovering it, was exciting. And then there's similarities–dare I go out on limb and say this—but between Angela and Batman. And Batman is one of my all-time favorites," she said. "So, just the kid in me loved that I could play a character that has a origin story that is similar to one of the most beloved comic characters in history, but then to be able to flip that on its head and she be right in the middle of things that are happening today, but yet we are able to put it in an alternative universe was exciting, you know? 'Cause I could satiate that desire to have wanted to play a superhero, but then I also can feel like I'm being responsible as a storyteller by being a part of something that is holding a mirror up. When you can do both, that's quite exciting."
THE POWER OF LOVE
Watchmen ended with a bit of a cliffhanger. Angela lost her husband, Cal/Dr. Manhattan (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), but saved the day. At the end of the series while replaying conversations with her late husband, Angela realized he may have left her a gift. Was it the gift of his great power or something else? She ate an egg and put her foot to the water to see if she had gained his power. Cut to black. Viewers were left to imagine what happened to Angela.
"It's funny because to me, I felt like she falls in," King said with a laugh. "I have always looked at it as just the ultimate love story. And I guess just as a person that loves to watch stories and read stories, that the writing team, that they were able to infuse a love story within all of this wildness, it was kind of magical in a lot of ways, you know? I'm like every other person that's in love with love, just wants to see it prevail the way it does…Playing Angela, when we got to the point where she's going back over in her mind of the last moments she and John were together and then sees that egg, I looked at it as less of opportunity to inherit Dr. Manhattan's powers and more of an opportunity to have possibly one more moment, or possibly a lifetime, with the man she loves."
Lindelof has said he would be open to Watchmen becoming an anthology, with no immediate plans for a second season until he gets an idea that moved him as much as the first season. King would certainly be open to return alongside him.
"I would be down for something like that if Damon was involved because I know that he's going to take care—I feel like it's very important when you are creating stories from something that exists, when you're using it as canon you have to find a way to tell your own story but still respect and honor the original work and not make the fans, like, hate you for it. And I feel like he was successful in that. So, I have to believe that if it were to come back, that he would do the same," she said. "So, even if there is no Sister Night or if there's just Sister Night in one or two episodes, I believe that that is the right thing to be."
The Watchmen Blu-ray/DVD set, with all nine episodes and a number of behind-the-scenes special features including "Hooded Justice," "The Colossal King" the 2019 New York Comic Con panel and many more, is out now.