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David Hayter Talks Watchmen

David Hayter, famous for writing X-Men and X-Men 2 as well as being the voice actor who portrays Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid video game series, spoke to This Week in Geek about acting, video games, and of course, Watchmen.

Thanks to the nimble transcribing efforts of our own Curiosity, Inc., here is everything Hayter had to say about the upcoming Watchmen film and his involvement in its writing...

TWiG: With your involvement with Watchmen, what were some of the challenges that you faced adapting such a piece of work because it has this huge storyline but also having the subset of the Black Freighter?

David Hayter: Well, the challenges were immense. In some ways, it was very easy because the story is so good and so well-written and I think so cinematic I just sort of felt like a lot of fanboys felt, which is this is basically a storyboarded movie, it’s ready to go and it’s already better-written than 98 percent of the movies that come out, so in terms of adapting it, it wasn’t that difficult.

It was protecting the integrity of the project from all the different studios we took it to. I had it at four different studios and it would inevitably come down to the same notes, which were “It’s a six-person movie, can we make it about one person?” and “We don’t like all these flashbacks, can we get rid of these flashbacks?” Well, we’re stretching over events that reach for 40 years, so we kind of need the flashbacks, and it’s not about one person, it’s about six people. So, I can write you a movie with no flashbacks and only one main character, but that’s not Watchmen, that’s a different thing, and you’re gonna have to pay me again. So eventually, we would part ways with each successive studio as they lost their nerve to make that movie and what we knew. But the entire time, what it was really going to come down to was a super-hot director coming in off of a huge success so that he couldn’t be messed with and somebody that was a huge fan of the comic book itself.

And like a miracle from the sky, 300 comes out, opens to $70 million in March, of all months, and suddenly, Zack Snyder is this huge director and he’s a massive fan of the material. He came in and was really our white knight. He got it made the way it needed to be made. As far as “Tales of the Black Freighter” goes, it was always my intention to do everything from the book, but with “Tales of the Black Freighter,” you’re really sort of looking at a three-hour movie, and the studios were just not willing to consider that concept. But what we’d always talked about in the past was shooting the movie and shooting the newsstand with the kid reading the comic book and getting all the inserts we would need for that and then if the movie was a big success, then going out and shooting “Tales of the Black Freighter” and then intercutting it for a big DVD release. This was our concept. I can’t tell you what they actually came down to doing, but that’s how I always wanted to do it. It was always my intention, to put everything from Watchmen up onscreen.

David Hayter: (thought 300 was “amazing, stylistic, beautiful”) When I saw it, I called the producer of Watchmen and said “Oh my God, do we ever have the right guy.” And then I went up to Vancouver while they were shooting and he couldn’t have been nicer. He couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. It was just like two fanboys hanging out and living out their dream. It was amazing.

TWiG: When you were writing Watchmen, what was the character that was the most enjoyable to write? Personally, my favorite character in the comic is Rorschach.

DH: Yeah, well he’s the gold, right? I mean, they’re all great characters, and they all have amazingly detailed character arcs, but Dan is just sort of human. I love Dr. Manhattan as well because I love his problem. He’s becoming God and he’s having problems with his girlfriend. I just think that’s a really great metaphor for anyone who’s gained a lot of power in their life and has to try to stay connected to humanity. But the real gold is Rorschach. That character is so brilliant. To me, Rorschach always pointed out the problem of having masked superheroes. As a kid, you say, oh, wouldn’t it be great if there was a Batman or if there was a dark avenger of the night who would just come and right wrongs and so on and so forth.

But Rorschach raises the question of well, if you’re going to hide your identity and go out and beat people up, are you always going to be beating up bad guys? Who regulates that? Who watches the watchmen? How do you know he’s not going to be beating up environmentalists or creationists or whatever? Taking whatever his own personal ideology is and applying that in ways that society as a whole might not agree with. So, I think that’s a really brilliant character that takes Watchmen above a standard comic book story and puts it directly into our world. Plus, he’s got all the most fun dialogue. “None of you understand. I’m not locked up in here with you, you’re locked up in here with me.”

TWiG: I thought that line was tremendously cool. I remember I was sitting in the residence here at the college reading Watchmen last year and I read that line thinking “Holy crap, that is so epically cool.” I had that as like a forum signature in my online life for so long.

DH: Oh, yeah. It’s one of the greatest lines ever written for a hero. I was reading it on the set of a little movie I had produced and I was rereading Watchmen, somebody gave it to me. I think I got to that line and said “I have to make this movie just to hear that line onscreen.” It’s so brilliant and fierce and amazing.

TWiG: Is there anything exclusive you can offer from Watchmen for the listeners of TWiG?

DH: Well, I can’t tell you anything about what’s in the movie, because it’s all confidential. But I can tell you that I’m at the Writer’s Guild right now and I literally found out five minutes before the interview started that I’m getting screenplay credit. The screenplay is by myself and Alex Tse, who worked with Zack. That’s a bit of news that only you and my wife know at the moment.

TWiG: That’s tremendously cool. Now I have to make sure this gets out fast.

DH: Yeah, put it out fast and that’ll be an exclusive for you.

To hear the entire interview in the form of a podcast head over to TWiG.

5.28.08 Source: TWiG

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