Don Johnson has left quite a footprint in the entertainment industry. From starring in culture-defining TV shows like Miami Vice to recording one hit wonders to memorable turns in Tin Cup, Eastbound and Down, and Django Unchained, Johnson has constantly surprised you with his choices. And now, he’s set to star in what may be his biggest project yet, HBO’s Watchmen series.
As someone who has enjoyed Johnson’s work for decades, I was excited to welcome him to The Deep Cut podcast to discuss his career, how he prepares for every role, what advice he gave his daughter Dakota Johnson, and his experiences on the set of the Watchmen and the upcoming Rian Johnson crime drama Knives Out.
The much-anticipated HBO series is set in the world that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created in their legendary graphic novel. Creator Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers) has made it clear that this is not a remake of the comic, but a reimagining with new characters and storylines. One of those new characters is Johnson’s Chief Judd Crawford, who was front and center in the recent trailer for the show. I asked Johnson, a guy who was at the height of his fame in the 80s, how aware he was of Moore’s graphic novel before he took on the project.
“I was aware of it because it’s an iconic piece of material. It’s probably the classic graphic novel. Everyone refers to it as the primer for all comic genres and stuff like that. This [series] is beyond comics.”
Johnson went on to speak about what his “friend and former employee” Lindelof has done with the show. Johnson, who gave Lindelof one of his “first jobs” when he hired him on Nash Bridges, revealed that we “won’t believe what Damon has done with it and how amazing it is.”
Johnson joins a heavy hitter cast on the show that includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Tim Blake Nelson, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Louis Gossett Jr., and Jean Smart. Although Johnson could not reveal too many details about the storylines of the show (something about a pesky NDA), he was able to talk about how much he enjoyed working with King:
“There are certain actors you get each other from jump street. Others you have to work a little harder to make a connection and eventually you do. But Regina was like putting on a pair of well worn, comfortable Levi’s. She’s a wonderful actress. Talk about someone who can hit it back. She can put any kind of spin on it you want. [tennis reference] That was a lot of fun. We just had a blast working together. I’m hoping that I get the opportunity to do other things with her cause she is a gifted, gifted actress.”
His praise for Regina King seems to indicate that he’ll share a lot of scenes will be with the Oscar-winning actress. I can’t wait to see what those scenes have in store for us and how key their relationship is going to be to the series. One thing’s for sure, if Johnson is right, Damon Lindelof and his crew are going to expand the Watchmen universe in new and exciting ways that will expand our minds about the source material. Who watches the Watchmen? We will, come this fall on HBO.
As I mentioned earlier, Johnson also spoke to me about his experiences working on Rian Johnson’s Knives Out. He described Johnson as “Capraesque in his abilities”, saying “If I could, I could just work with him I would.” The actor also revealed he saw an early screening of the movie and was “astounded” by the quality of it. ” I was like ‘Shit, that’s pretty good,’ Johson said. “Actually it’s so good that I am super proud of it.” He described working on the film with a cast that includes Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Lakeith Stanfield, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, and Jamie Lee Curtis as being in “summer stock”. He also reserved special compliments for de Armas and Stanfield who he calls “great” and “fabulous” respectively in the film. High praise from a veteran actor who has been in his share of great casts over the years.
To hear more of this interview including Johnson’s thoughts on working with Quentin Tarantino, his updates on if Miami Vice or Nash Bridges will be returning to your TV screens and more, listen below. And for more movie-centric podcasts, be sure to check out The Collider.com Podcast, The Witching Hour horror podcast, and much more over at the Collider Factory.