Q&A: Cast of "Gotham"
During the wonder of WonderCon, I got the chance to take a break from the mesh of cosplayers, funko dolls, and comic books to chat with the cast of Fox’s “Gotham”. Now in it’s third season, “Gotham” is the precursor to Bruce Wayne becoming Batman, telling the tale of how young Bruce grappled with the madness around him and how the notorious villains came to be the baddies we know and love.
This past season saw quite a few twists and turns. Bruce (David Mazouz) committed an act of such harsh betrayal that it’s hard to tell if his new girlfriend Selina Kyle, AKA future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), will ever forgive him. Selina didn’t just get betrayed by Bruce, she was also betrayed by her long-lost mother (the poor girl just can’t catch a break!). Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) began his transformation into becoming The Riddler, while Gotham’s favorite pair of psychopaths, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) and Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas), have begun to make a play as queens of Gotham (well, Tabitha is more just along for the ride).
During our chat, the cast filled me on what to expect during the second half of Season 3, which villains might pop up in Season 4, and just how green The Riddler’s new suit is...
David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne)
YH: How is Selina and Bruce’s relationship?
DM: It was going good for a while, but it hit a rough patch. I think it’s going to take some time to recover from that. Selina is very angry with me, as we saw in one of the last episodes to air, and it will take her a while to forgive him. Bruce is going through something very, very big in his personal life right now, which will affect him. Eventually, I think they will make amends, but I think it’s going to take a while to get there because of what happened. It was a big speed bump in their relationship.
YH: What will happen in this season that will drive Bruce to become the hero he is destined to become? What will keep him on that path?
DM: It’s funny, because you’re saying that now and you haven’t even seen what’s coming. That’s basically what the next eight episodes are about. It’s his journey becoming what he is about to become. I don’t want to give away too much. It’s really guided by his desire to figure out his destiny, or what his greater purpose in life is. He wants to know who he is. Somebody will come along and tell him. He’s going to be guided in a direction that probably isn’t the best route for him, and it’s going to take a lot of inner strength for him to bounce back.
YH: Bruce has many different personas. Which one do you relate the most to?
DM: Given that one is good and one is bad, I hope that I can relate more to the real Bruce. Although Bruce II isn’t really bad, he’s just lost. He’s very much a lost soul looking for a purpose. He’s looking for love and to be cared for, but his most direct goal is to find a purpose. He was created in a lab and was let out, so he doesn’t know anyone. He doesn’t know where to go. He sees Bruce, someone who looks identical to him, and thinks that’s his calling. When Bruce kicks him out (with good reason), Bruce II takes that and ends up in the Court of Owls. Since who he thought was going to be his savior ended up breaking his heart, he’s not going to have any trouble hurting original Bruce.
YH: Was there any previous iteration of Batman that left a lasting impression on the direction you wanted to take Bruce?
DM: That’s a really good question. I think the Batman series and Batman Begins were my biggest influences. Batman shared a quality in both of those where he was very stoic, and you could never really tell what he was thinking. I started to explore that towards the middle of Season 2. He’s much more transparent in Season 1 and the first half of Season 2, but then he becomes much more stoic. I think that’s the best word to describe it.
Cory Michael Smith (Edward Nygma)
YH: Do you have a favorite riddle (your character has said)?
CMS: The less you have, the more they’re worth (in regards to friends). It was the toast I made when I was with Jim Gordon, Leslie, and Kristen on a double date. I just think it’s nice.
YH: What was it like putting on that green suit for the first time?
CMS: We have green suits. They had been getting greener and they all have the velvet collar. But when I walked into the fitting room and saw the actual green, I was like "Woah! That’s like a sample thing, right? Because that’s really green and that’s really shimmery." And they said, "Nope, that’s it." I wanted to know if it was okay’d. I was nervous, because it was really bright. As you can see in “Gotham”, people don’t really wear bright clothing. It might be rich colors but it’s not really bright. This green is bright. I love it. It’s really fun. I tried it on and it’s well-tailored. It was made for me. It is a beautiful green, and I like that it represents this side of Edward that wants to be seen and wants to be acknowledged. It’s kind of flamboyant, and I like that he’s entering this showman role.
YH: What’s been fun about adjusting Edward to his ultimate persona (The Riddler)?
CMS: Something I really like about Edward is that he has identity issues and that he is constantly seeking an identity. He puts on different hats based on what he’s doing and who he’s with, so something that I’ve enjoyed is how he is trying to be himself. His voice has dropped to become tougher, which often happens with Penguin. In Episode 15, when he’s doing his riddles, he gets really excited and his voice enters this other thing. But when he’s with people one-on-one, I like to drop his voice. Moving forward with The Riddler, he’s going to be figuring out who he is and what does it mean to be The Riddler. I’m having fun with that now.
YH: Will Nygma ever work with Barbara, Butch, and Tabitha?
CMS: Yes. [laughs]
YH: This season was quite dark. Will it remain in that heavy tone?
CMS: I don’t think it would be a very interesting show if Gotham was not a dark place. The idea of Gotham is that the city gets worse and worse; otherwise, why do you need Batman? The city has to get to a point where a human being has to decide to dress like a bat and save the city. It has to be a pretty gnarly, nasty place for someone to decide to do that.
Executive Producer Danny Cannon
YH: Can you give us a sneak peek into the rest of Season 3, and how has it evolved?
DC: At the beginning, we had two agendas. We had Bruce Wayne really needing to confront his parents' death and where that leads him, and the Court of Owls, which plays out at the end of the season. The other one was Nygma’s evolution. He’s been evolving gradually, whether it’s makeup, hair, glasses, props. His body language has really evolved. He has become far more confident. He feels that he should not be ignored. That was the theme of this season: Metamorphosis. Bruce Wayne is changing into an adult and so is Nygma, except Nygma is more psychotic and violent.
YH: Let’s talk about Ra’s Al Ghul and Harley Quinn. What is “Gotham”’s take on them and how are they different?
DC: It’s a shame, we wanted Ra’s to be a big surprise, because it’s a great intro. But these things get out. But the idea of how the journey with the Court of Owls ends with ancient mysticism. They are such a machiavellian party that we wanted to go more mystic and go back centuries. We wanted to talk about history, which is the next evolution of our villain, which Ra’s is really good for that. At the end of the season, once you’ve thought you’ve found what’s in the rabbit hole comes guys who live in the shadows.
YH: What’s next for Jerome?
DC: I don’t know. He didn’t die, though, did he? [laughs] I can’t get enough of Cameron [Monaghan]. What happened was is that I wanted to do a comedy, but people didn’t think I was funny. So John...did, and I got to do an episode of “Shameless”. I love “Shameless” and I love that cast. I met Cameron on that. We then had the idea of a character from a circus, and I was like, I know the right guy! That’s happened twice on the show for me.
YH: Any Harley Quinn teasers?
DC: Nope, I can’t. I can tell you that the great joy of working with Erin [Richards] is her range. The reason we changed her character is because we knew what she could do. We couldn’t keep her character in one place, she had to keep evolving. That’s all I can tell you.
Drew Powell (Butch Gilzean)
YH: What has it been like to see where Butch started to where he is now?
DP: It’s been great. I said to someone earlier today that I’m the only one that’s not surprised by that because I took [developer] Bruno Heller at his word when he said this Butch character is going to take time and he’s going to grow. People are going to underestimate him. I just had to trust him. I moved my family from L.A. to New York for this job, so if I would’ve just gone off of what I was reading early on, then I would have thought this was the dumbest thing I had ever done. Bruno was true to his word and it’s been a blast to create this character. I knew what was coming, but fans didn’t. I would see these tweets that would say, “I know this is weird, but I’m really starting to like Butch,” or, “I can’t believe I’m saying this but Butch is one of my favorite characters.” Each one of those was a fist punch for me.
YH: Are we going to see Butch at the top this season?
DP: Butch had a moment at the top in Season 2, and he didn’t like it. The whole point of Butch is that he’s a survivor. He grew up in Gotham, he knows the nooks and crannies, he knows all the buttons to push... he knows enough to know that if you are on top, there is a much greater chance that you’re going to get knocked down. I think that’s one of the cool things about him and Tabitha, is that she’s kind of the same way. She always worked better as a second-in-command. She likes to work in the shadows. I thought that the connection between them was neat. What I hope to see moving forward is that we will find out Butch’s backstory.
YH: Who does he bet on moving forward in the power play for the underworld?
DP: Whoever he’s with will probably win. I think, for the rest of this season, it’s all about Tabitha. He’s head over heels in love with her (for better or for worse), and he’s trying to convince her that Barbara doesn’t deserve her loyalty. It’ll be this evolution of him trying to explain to her. Hopefully, for her sake, she figures that out before it’s too late.
YH: Would you classify Butch as a bad guy or as an anti-hero?
DP: When I was prepping for the role, I watched a lot of early “Sopranos”. One of the things I liked about it was how the actors made you care about these despicable gangsters. That was the attitude I had going on. Anti-hero is the right way to look at it.
Erin Richards (Barbara Kean)
YH: What’s going on with Barbara the last eight episodes?
ER: We are going to see Barbara’s rise in Gotham. She has set herself up as the queen of Gotham. She starts calling herself Barbara Queen, which is brilliant. She thinks she is now running the underworld, but she finds out that there is a secret organization called the Court of Owls that is above her, which is incredibly irritating for her. She then goes back to Nygma to try to get him to find out who this organization is, which causes a huge rift between her and Tabitha. She’s annoyed that Barbara would continue to use him and not kill him as she promised she would. That’s the basic arc of Barbara, which will culminate in this huge battle at the end of the season which will lead to another huge development in the story of Barbara.
YH: Does Barbara have a connection to Harley Quinn?
ER: Ah, you can’t believe everything you read. Especially in this age of fake news. That’s an alternative fact. [laughs] There will be a big reveal, so whether it’s that or not, we’ll have to see!
YH: What is Barbara and Tabitha’s relationship like?
ER: They’re very dependent on each other. They very much need each other. It’s not as easy as the brain and the brawn, because Tabitha is very intelligent. It’s more that Tabitha doesn’t have the aspirations that Barbara does. Barbara wants to be in control because she’s never found her place in the world. Tabitha is interested in control because it’s a good business opportunity, and because she supports Barbara. She doesn’t have that burning passion to be in control. Barbara needs Tabby because she is the fighter, and Tabby needs Barbara because she is the grand schemer.
YH: Do you think Barbara actually cares for Tabitha?
ER: I think she does. Barbara doesn’t care for very many people, but she does care for Tabitha further than just needing her. I think she likes her. Because of all the things that happened, there may be a few consequences.
Camren Bicondova (Selina Kyle)
YH: How is the relationship between Bruce and Selina?
CB: That relationship is crazy. It’s not really toxic, but it’s a wild ride. When we pick up this season, it’s catching them on their downfall. For the rest of the season, it’s them going their separate ways and trying to figure out who they are.
YH: How will the relationship with her long-lost mother going to impact Selina?
CB: I think it impacts her immensely. Selina didn’t want to start a relationship with her mom again, because her mom did her so wrong from the beginning of her life, and the fact that she abandoned her again hurts Selina because all she wants to feel is love. I think that betrayal from her mother skyrockets her into this direction she didn’t see herself going to.
YH: As the season plays out, how much does she evolve into becoming that Catwoman we all know?
CB: She does evolve a little more, but she definitely does not become Catwoman. She’s searching for what she needs and wants. She wants independence and she knows that she needs to survive, but does she go beyond just trying to survive.
YH: Where does that search for independence take her?
CB: It takes her to a certain person that she thinks could help her. That’s all I can say.
YH: Does any of your dance background help you portray Selina?
CB: Definitely. The majority of Selina’s being is her body language and the way that she moves. Because she doesn’t say much, most of her communication revolves around how her body sits and moves. If I weren’t a dancer, I don’t think I would be able to pull Selina off.
Jessica Lucas (Tabitha Galavan)
YH: Can you give us a little tease of what will happen to Tabitha the last half of Season 3?
JL: She’s still furious at Nygma for taking off her hand, and as the alliance between Nygma and Barbara grows, I think it makes her more and more furious as time goes on. I think you’re going to see her really push. The tension between her and Barbara is going to keep growing, which eventually has to play out in some way. We shall see…
YH: Do you think Tabitha would ever make a power play for the top, the way Barbara is?
JL: I don’t think so, not right now. She wasn’t raised that way. Coming from the Galavan family, she’s used to loyalty. She’s the protector. I don’t think she has as much desire for power as the other villains do. She doesn’t really care about the power. She’s smart enough to know that alliances are important. She’s a bit more of a snake in the grass in that way.
YH: Who do you hope Tabitha ends up with, Butch or Barbara?
JL: Neither, honestly. I hope she finds her own way. I hope she starts something completely new.
YH: Does she feel actual love for either one of them, or is it more circumstantial?
JL: I don’t know that she knows what real love is. I think that she cares about them more than she understands she does, but loyalty is so important to her. When Barbara turns on her in anyway, she sees it as disloyal. That’s where her affection lies. She has a lot of affection for Butch, because he’s like a puppy dog. It’s an unrequited love. I think she does care about him.
YH: What was it like training with the whip?
JL: Challenging. I arrived on set and had to use it the next day. They took me outside and showed me how to use it really quickly. Getting it to crack is really hard, and you don’t want to hurt anyone. I keep up with it, I have a whip I sometimes practice with. Honestly, a lot of it is CGI. We sometimes get to use it, and sometimes if the camera is this close, we can’t use it.
Be sure to watch “Gotham” when it returns on April 24th!
(Image via Dave Starbuck/Future Image/WENN)
- Sarah Osman, YH Contributing Writer