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The Hollywood Legend Who Turned Down Jean Smart's Huge Watchmen Role

In 2019, Jean Smart floored audiences and critics alike with her performance as Laurie Blake in HBO's "Watchmen." However, fans may not know that the role was originally meant for another actor, a sci-fi legend. That's right, "Alien" actor Sigourney Weaver was offered and rejected the part.

Smart's career has reached a longevity that few actors could ever dream of. From starring as Charlene Frazier-Stillfield in the sitcom "Designing Women" from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s to her Emmy Award-winning guest roles on "Frasier" as Lana Gardner — a role Smart still looks back on fondly — in the early 2000s. She later landed the roles of President Martha Logan in "24" and Floyd Gerhardt in Season 2 of "Fargo," both of which resulted in award consideration. Smart is currently busy playing Deborah Vance in "Hacks," having earned two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress and a Golden Globe for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy for the role.

While Smart's work, particularly in the past decade, has resulted in some of the highest acclaim in her career, one of her most noteworthy roles nearly went to someone else. In 2019, she joined the star-studded cast of HBO's "Watchmen," a sequel to the beloved Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons comic of the same name. Smart played Laurie Blake, the former hero Silk Spectre, who works with the FBI and is part of the Anti-Vigilante Task Force. The role, which earned Smart another Emmy nomination, was originally offered to Sigourney Weaver, who the 72-year-old Smart recently told Variety was the first choice to play Blake. "As for Watchmen, Sigourney Weaver turned it down, which is why I got the role," Smart said. "Thank you, Sigourney. I had no idea what Watchmen was! What a part."

What has Sigourney Weaver done since rejecting Watchmen?

Sigourney Weaver has remained busy, and it's possible her rejection of "Watchmen" wasn't because she didn't want to be in the show, but due to scheduling conflicts. "Watchmen" began filming in early 2018, which coincided with the production of James Cameron's "Avatar" sequels, where Weaver joined "Avatar: The Way of the Water" as Kiri te Suli Kireysi'ite. Since "Watchmen" was released, she has appeared in several films, including "My Salinger Year," The Good House," and "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," while also executive producing and starring in the miniseries, "The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart." 

When she was offered "Watchmen," Weaver had also just finished Netflix's "The Defenders," where she played the series' main antagonist, Alexandra Reid. It's possible that she wasn't ready to jump into another superhero franchise after the Marvel series, preferring to focus on other projects instead.

Regardless, Weaver's career hasn't suffered one bit since rejecting the role, and Smart's career has boomed thanks to her string of great performances over the last few years — even if she wasn't aware of what "Watchmen" was when she signed on. No doubt the "Alien" legend could have smashed the role of Laurie Blake. However, Smart ended up being a pitch-perfect choice for the part.