Jean Smart is, as they say, having a moment. Uproxx even dubbed what this “the goddamned summer of Jean Smart.” She stole all her scenes in Mare of Easttown. (Or maybe it’s better to say she brought it as great as Kate Winslet did.) She’s killing it as the lead on HBO Max’s Hacks. And it wasn’t that long ago that she earned a well-deserved Emmy nomination for her work in Damon Lindelof’s TV sequel-of-sorts to Alan Moore’s Watchmen. That’s all well and good, but in a new interview, she says that role was once supposed to go to someone else.
Smart did a Variety chat with SNL star Bowen Yang, in which they spoke to each other about their fairly different careers. At one point the onetime sentient Titanic iceberg brough up Watchmen, in which she played the older version of Silk Spectre, the retired crime fighter-turned-fed. Well, it wasn’t supposed to be Jean Smart doing all that.
“I was sort of shot from guns because they hired me two days before I started,” Smart told Yang. “I’ll be really honest: I had Sigourney Weaver to thank for turning down the role. So, thank you, Sigourney.”
Weaver might have been a bigger name, as well as a huge presence in sci-fi, and she probably would have brought a similar-but-different air of no-nonsense-ness and pathos to a character haunted by all that’s come before. And while it’s a fun thought experiment to picture her in the role, it also all worked out in the end.
It also brought Smart into a genre she’d never done before. “I knew nothing about the graphic novel,” she confessed. “I knew nothing about the story at all. I started reading the pilot, and I said, ‘Oh, my God, this is amazing.’ I’d never really done that science-fiction genre, and the fact that Damon was able to use that tragic part of our history that almost no one knew about — that was what was so shocking, that I had never heard of the Tulsa massacre. That’s why I think he said no when I asked him to do a second season because I think he put everything into that.”
And where can you can watch Hacks, Mare of Easttown, and Watchmen? All on HBO Max. If, however, you want to go classic Jean Smart, you can find Designing Women on Hulu.