Nixon's Cool: Zack Snyder on Watchmen
On Getting the Call:
"We had finished 300 -- we were in post -- and the studio called me up and said, 'Hey, we're thinking of making this movie.' At that time we were pretty much the bastard children -- we were across the river, off the lot from Warner Bros. They physically did have to call me because it wasn't on the lot and they said, 'Hey, how's that, like, blue-screen thing coming?' and I said, 'It's gonna be cool,' and they're like, 'Okay, whatever. There's another comic-book movie that looks, like, crazy. You should come check that out. It's called Watchmen. I don't know if you're familiar with it.' I'm like, 'Yeah, I'm familiar with it.' But I was like, 'I don't know....' Look, it's commerce in the end. The movie has to get made and then people have to go see it. That made me nervous in the sense that I think people who put up a lot of money have expectations about what a movie is -- and rightly so. I just felt like if you start down the Watchmen road, where does that lead you as far as commerce and the general public and stuff like that is concerned?"
On Keeping It True:
"I had this meeting and basically, the script and the concept at the time was, 'It's going to be the War on Terror. We're going to update it, it's gonna be awesome, it's gonna be like modern-day George Bush....' So I sat in the room and I go, 'Yeah, okay, war on terror, people love that. It's going to be really popular. It's going to be a hit movie, I guess.' You know, the big thing is Nixon, right, 'cause Nixon's in the graphic novel. I thought, Nixon is so cool, it's just really not Watchmen without Nixon. So that just started this process of me just kind of taking little chips off of the War on Terror concept until I ended up going, 'You know, maybe 1985 is cool, and maybe Nixon's cool, and maybe we just oughtta leave it the way it is.'"
On Adapting the Comic: "Basically, the way I work is, I have a script, and then I sit down with it and I start drawing the frames of the movie, and when I get to the end of the script, and I've drawn all the drawings, then we go and film that. With a graphic novel -- I did this with 300 and it worked okay, and then I did it with Watchmen and it seems like it worked -- you have a script that is based on the graphic novel and then you have the graphic novel and you have them all opened on the table and you're like, 'The script says this, the graphic novel says this. Hmm, that's a problem if they don't say the same thing, right?' So then in that process of drawing what we would shoot, I would say, 'You know, the dialogue's just better here, in the graphic novel. Let's just do that instead.' Or I'd say, 'That picture's better than what we have written.' And not to say that we completely threw the script away, but in pre-production, people would say, 'Don't look at the script, look at the drawings and look at the graphic novel, because that's what the movie is.'"