- Damon Lindelof told a story on HBO's official Watchmen podcast about Questlove's appearance on the show Finding Your Roots.
- He says Questlove's reaction to learning his family history was incredibly emotional, and moved him.
- "Suddenly, I was like that feels very Watchmen to me," he says.
Here's a decent bet: you probably wouldn't expect one of the most popular musicians in America to directly influence a high-concept HBO comic book show. But on the official Watchmen podcast, Damon Lindelof recounted how Questlovedrummer for The Roots and star of The Tonight Showinfluenced key concepts that made it directly into the new series.
Lindelof says he's "obsessed" with the show Finding Your Roots, where Henry Louis Gates (who appears in a cameo on Watchmen as a fictionalized version of himself serving as the U.S. Secretary of Treasury) helps celebrities learn more about their heritage.
Lindelof recalls the episode vividly, particularly the moment Gates reveals to Questlove that his distant ancestors came to America on the last ship carrying slaves. He tells Questlove where they landed, where they settled, and more.
"As he's telling the story, Questlove starts to have this incredibly emotional reaction," Lindelof say. "He says 'I feel like I know who I am.'" (His quote verbatim, as you can see in the video below, is "Until an hour ago, I didn't know who I was.")
Lindelof, who is part-Ashkenazi Jewish , had ancestors who survived World War II, which profoundly impacted how he viewed himself growing up. He told Variety his grandparents' survival resulted in me."
He continues on the podcast:
"That's not something that I could really relate to, as a white person, as it pertains to the last 400 years of history in America that was visited upon people who were brought here to this country and enslaved, and all the treasure of this country was basically born upon their backs.
That said, I understand the idea of knowing who I am based on understanding the trials and tribulations and trauma visited upon my grandparents. So, hearing that my grandparents just got out of Russia right before they would've been shipped off to concentration camps actually creates an emotional reaction in me, and suddenly I feel like that's a piece of the puzzle of who I am, even though this person died 20 years before I was born. Suddenly, I was like that feels very Watchmen to me."
This observation translates directly to the second episode of Watchmen, when the mysterious, wheelchair-bound Will Reeves tells Regina King's Angela Abar his intent: "I came to tell you who you are."
We haven't gotten a ton of answers yet as to what Will meant by who Angela is, but just the mere fact that she now knows that they're related is a start, and represents a path toward the sort of enlightenment that Lindelof describes, and that he witnessed Questlove experience.
"This is something that I feel like all of us as humans are striving to dowe want to understand who we are, and why we do the things we do, and why we feel anxious and scared, and it's hard for us to separate what was inheritedwhat came from our parents, and their parents before them, and what was unique to us," he said. "And you need to know who you are before you can separate those things out."
To hear the full conversation between Lindelof and Chernobyl creator Craig Mazin, you can listen to the Watchmen podcast below. The Finding Your Roots conversation begins at 23:45.