How Yahya Abdul-Mateen Trained for His Shocking ‘Watchmen’ Transformation

Watchmen / HBO
Watchmen / HBO

Yahya Abdul-Mateen held onto one of the biggest television secrets of 2019 for his role on HBO’s Watchmen. But just because Abdul-Mateen couldn’t tell anyone who he was really playing on the critically acclaimed series, that didn’t stop him from training for it.

Just a warning, if you hadn’t realized already: There will be SPOILERS ahead of HBO’s Watchmen and the original graphic novel.

When the series first started, it appeared that Abdul-Mateen, Men’s Journal‘s fall fashion star, was playing Cal Abar, the husband of Regina King’s Angela Abar/Sister Night character. And while Abdul-Mateen was certainly playing Cal, it was revealed in Episode 7, “An Almost Religious Awe,” (and expanded in Episode 8, “A God Walks into Abar”) that Abdul-Mateen was also playing one of the most iconic characters in comic book history: Doctor Manhattan.

Just like in the comic book series of the same name, taking on the role of Doctor Manhattan meant that Abdul-Mateen would be fully naked for part of some episodes—and other times he would be wearing barely any clothes at all. For a refresher: Doctor Manhattan is an atomic-powered, god-like figure with incredible powers, blue skin, and a slight detachment from humanity, hence the sometimes lack of clothing.

When Abdul-Mateen first was told he’d be playing Doctor Manhattan by series creator Damon Lindelof, he had some quick thoughts: “On the outside, I’m mirroring his energy, taking it as a very responsible actor,” Abdul-Mateen told The Hollywood Reporter. “On the inside, I’m going crazy. I’m tearing up the room. I can’t believe it. And then I said, ‘Oh, shit. I need to get in shape.’”

Abdul-Mateen himself is no stranger to getting in shape—he recently did it for Aquaman to play villain Black Manta alongside Jason Momoa—so he got into the gym and got to work. Abdul-Mateen teamed up with trainer Brad Kolowich Jr. to get things going, which the actor posted about on Instagram after the series reveal. Within this post is also a video of Abdul-Mateen getting in some of that work in the gym, showing off his absolutely ripped figure in the process.

Here’s a look at Yahya Abdul-Mateen training:

Here’s a look at Abdul-Mateen as Doctor Manhattan and how the character looks in the comics:

HBO / Watchmen
HBO / Watchmen
Watchmen / HBO / DC Comics
Doctor Manhattan in a panel from the original ‘Watchmen’ comic (left), and a more recent depiction from DC Comics (right). Watchmen / HBO / DC Comics

 

And here’s a look into how Abdul-Mateen has gotten into shape in the past… and the results of that labor:

 

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