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THE SUNDAY CONVERSATION

Carla Gugino of 'Watchmen'

The Broadway-bound actress hears she's a Comic-Con icon.

March 08, 2009|Choire Sicha

March has been declared Carla Gugino month -- or maybe it just feels that way. The actress is in the just-released "Watchmen" and in Friday's "Race to Witch Mountain." And she's soon heading to Broadway for Eugene O'Neill's "Desire Under the Elms."

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How is your "Watchmen" junket going?

It's actually been really fantastic because I don't know if I've ever been part of a movie that people have given this kind of response. Have you seen it yet?

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Nope, couldn't get into the screening.

It really is a powerful movie. It leaves you asking a lot of questions. That's such a welcome thing when you get to see a movie -- especially with a big superhero movie.

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This is your first big action superhero movie.

Well, "Spy Kids" had a little adventure. I think it is officially my first superhero movie; it's my second graphic novel, the first being "Sin City."

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Often these enterprises are demanding in the situations in which you must work. How was that for you?

I begin in the late 1930s, early '40s, in my late 20s as a costumed crime fighter in a very tight corset. It did not afford a lot of movement. And I had a fight sequence in that costume. Then I aged to 67 years old as an alcoholic mother with full prosthetics, and that took four hours to put on.

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So far feedback has been mixed, and this novel has, let's say, frighteningly devoted fans. Are you afraid?

You know, it's interesting, we went to Comic-Con with it. And I went for "Race to Witch Mountain," which comes out a week later. And someone said, "You're a Comic-Con icon now, how does that feel?" And I said: "I didn't know I was one, but it feels fantastic." I love that there's a passionate group of people who feel protective of this material. Zack [Snyder] has a crystal-clear vision -- every moment along the way we were finding out how we could be more allegiant.

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Otherwise you will be torn limb from limb.

Ripped to shreds! Limb from limb! I'm always my own harshest critic. So it's OK, it's good that people have strong opinions. Having seen the film, I can honestly say I was blown away. And there's a lot of it I'm not in, so I can be objective in that regard.

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Do you have a tendency to see things and cringe -- or to not see things that you're in?

You know, I've been doing this for 21 years. So there were periods in my life where I didn't see things. But now I see them to see what the big picture is. Generally, I work with people I have a lot of respect for. In terms of cringing -- it's such an intimate process that becomes incredibly public. It's a very odd profession.

And since this is the L.A. Times, I think we need to acknowledge I just came back from Chicago for three months and we really do live in a gorgeous city!

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Yes, but you're coming to Broadway, baby!

Which is very exciting.

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And so, eight times a week, for three months, you will be manhandled onstage by Brian Dennehy.

And Pablo Schreiber! It's pretty wild.

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Can you tell me about how collaboration works with your partner, your boyfriend, Sebastian Gutierrez?

We've made, I guess, five movies together now. And I can say that before we were even together, I was a huge fan of his work. Objectively, I can say he's just an exceptional writer and director. Oftentimes, when we're on a movie together, if you didn't know we were together, you wouldn't know. At the end of the day, we're in the car going, "Hey, honey, how was your day?"

He's from Venezuela, and his mentor is Pedro Almodovar, and his sensibilities are of that ilk -- he loves women, and the complexity and craziness of women. As a woman, that's so exciting.

We wanted to do a movie where he wrote a bunch of amazing characters for all of our friends who are exceptional actors -- and we made a very little movie that we didn't get paid for but own a small part of. That's been a real labor of love. There are two little movies ["Women in Trouble" and "Elektra Luxx"] that hopefully will get to be able to be seen. At some point you just go, "God, I want to work with people I respect and up each other's game. Life is short."

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Back to the beginning: Do you remember your one episode of "Who's the Boss"?

I vaguely remember it! I remember getting the job, which was a big deal. I remember Tony Danza because I got flowers in my room when I arrived.

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That's classy!

Who knew?

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Tell me what you did last night.

Well, the night before last, I flew in after having been in Chicago for three months with huge bags I haven't unpacked. And I got three hours of sleep, did the junket yesterday. Then last night I had a lovely Italian meal with Sebastian and my stepkids. Then went to sleep promptly at 9:30 after a hot bath. That's the glamorous life of Carla Gugino.

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