Yahya Abdul Mateen II says filming nude for ‘Watchmen’ was ‘very freeing’

'I did a few pushups, and then I took off the robe.'

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Watchmen star Yahya Abdul Mateen II says filming the nude scenes for the hit HBO series was quite “liberating.”

The New Orleans native earned a 2020 Emmy award for outstanding supporting actor for his portrayal of the DC comics character Cal Abar/Doctor Manhattan, a god-like being who, after getting caught in a radioactive particle test, appears blue in the nude. 

“When you’re naked and painted blue, you don’t have the energy to care about other things. I studied the character beforehand, I did a few pushups, and then I took off the robe,” Abdul-Mateen said in a new interview with W Magazine.  

Read More: Regina King accepts Emmy for ‘Watchmen’ wearing Breonna Taylor t-shirt

“Being naked and having the audacity to be Doctor Manhattan, who runs the galaxy, was very freeing,” he continued.

Abdul-Mateen will next star as the real-life co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale, in the upcoming Netflix drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, theGRIO previously reported. 

Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, the film follows the real-life trial that gripped the nation in 1968 after demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention erupted into a violent clash with police and the National Guard. As a result, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, and Bobby Seale were among those charged with conspiracy to incite a riot and the resulting trial couldn’t be crazier.

theGrio caught up with Abdul-Mateen to find out how he feels about portraying a living legend and how he uses his art as activism.  

“I think one of the great things about about the film is that in a lot of ways, the film mirrors what we’re seeing today in terms of young people being engaged and being enthusiastic…The idea that we’re not going to not fight back and just sit down and bow down to our oppressors’ demands. We have young people of all ages and races in the country, even older people who are standing up and joining together and coming together in protest and educated protest to stand up and fight for a cause. So hopefully the movie is an inspiration,” he said.

Read More: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II on playing Bobby Seale in ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’

Meanwhile, the star also shared with W Magazine that he was inspired to get into acting following the death of his father.

“I didn’t want to have any regrets,” he said. “I didn’t want to tell anyone, but I started taking acting class at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco on Wednesday nights. I knew it was rebellious to pursue acting, but I also knew I had to try, that life is short.”

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