Tara Ben­nett gets the down­stairs gossip from Gotham’s re­booted valet

SFX - - Inter 75s ytellearasr of batman -

One of the in­trigu­ing as­pects of pre­quel show

Gotham’s ex­plo­ration of Bat­man lore is the fun it has twist­ing char­ac­ters we think we know. From oily rat Oswald Cob­ble­pot ( the fu­ture Pen­guin) to im­pov­er­ished urchin Ivy Pep­per ( Poi­son Ivy to be), its rogues’ gallery of char­ac­ters feels fresh yet fa­mil­iar. But we’re set to dis­cover an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent Al­fred Pen­ny­worth than the re­fined Bri­tish but­lers we pre­vi­ously saw brought to life by Michael Gough and Michael Caine. Sean Per­twee’s Pen­ny­worth is a bit of brawler, more mus­cu­lar pro­tec­tor than font of gen­teel wis­dom. Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Bruno Heller tells

SFX they wanted Gotham’s Al­fred to em­body a dark­ness that would help build the fu­ture Bat­man. “You had to have an ac­tor with an edge of dan­ger to him,” Heller ex­plains. “Who was not sim­ply the good, loyal care­taker, but also some­one with his own sense of rage inside him. Some­one who could carry that, but lightly, and that’s what Sean does so bril­liantly.”

From Gotham’s New York City set, Per­twee tells us about his take on this cor­ner­stone of the Bat­man legend… We know there was a lot of se­crecy in the de­vel­op­ment of Gotham. How did they bring you into the fold?

It re­ally was a dream come true. I was over here shoot­ing El­e­men­tary with my friend Jonny ( Lee Miller). I got a call from Warner Bros to go up for this thing, just with this ex­tremely well writ­ten two- page piece of pa­per. It was a scene with this character go­ing into a pub, break­ing some­one’s wind­pipe and be­ing re­ally threat­en­ing. I was try­ing to fig­ure out who the hell this character was and where it was go­ing. Even­tu­ally they flew me down and I met [ ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer] Danny Can­non. He said, “Hello, mate how’s it go­ing?” as I had worked with him be­fore [ on Goal! The Dream

Be­gins], and then I dis­cov­ered it was Gotham!

Gotham’s ver­sion of Al­fred Pen­ny­worth is a lot tougher than au­di­ences are used to: an ex- Marine who doesn’t suf­fer soft­ness. What does all of that bring to the story?

It’s an in­ter­est­ing av­enue to ex­per­i­ment with and look into – the idea of some­one be­ing a valet, a con­fi­dant and a fa­ther fig­ure put upon some­one who had no ex­pe­ri­ence in that, who’s also dys­func­tional and has a his­tory in the mil­i­tary. My take on it is that in fact his fa­ther was the but­ler to the Waynes prior to me. I was in the mil­i­tary and came back to aid my fa­ther who was dy­ing. I struck up a re­la­tion­ship with a very young Bruce Wayne ( David Ma­zouz). My fa­ther died and I took over look­ing after the fam­ily. He blames him­self for the demise of Thomas and Martha Wayne, think­ing he should have been there. So he’s now made a pledge to him­self and Bruce that he will never leave his side through death. That’s our an­gle. How deep into Al­fred and Bruce’s story have you gone?

We’re on episode eight now and we’re be­gin­ning to open up. We’re see­ing Al­fred be­come this en­abler. He has is­sues. He’s an ex­traor­di­nar­ily multi- faceted character. You haven’t seen this ver­sion of Al­fred be­fore, be­lieve you me. ( Laughs)

Do we get to delve into Al­fred’s past?

You will get a lot more back story the fur­ther we go into it. Be­cause the writ­ing is so strong there’s a real sense of how the city in­ter­twines. You can see how the city is be­gin­ning to op­er­ate and how we’re all drawn to­gether. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing process. Does Al­fred get to in­ter­act with char­ac­ters out­side of Bruce and Gor­don?

I got a chance to very briefly work with Donal [ Logue, De­tec­tive Har­vey Bul­lock] the other day, but my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence is mainly with David. I have a son called Al­fred, weirdly enough, who is the same age as David so I have an aw­ful lot to draw from in my re­la­tion­ship. I can only won­der at the pain this kid must go through. We’ve de­vel­oped a very close work­ing re­la­tion­ship and the kid is ir­ri­tat­ingly bril­liant. ( Laughs) He’s very good, such a pro and such a fine young man. Al­fred and Gor­don are clearly the yin and yang of fa­ther fig­ures for Bruce. What’s Al­fred’s take on Gor­don?

The early scenes are ones of mis­trust. Al­fred doesn’t trust any­one who comes into Bruce’s world. He tries to keep ev­ery­one at a dis­tance but he’s to­tally in­ex­pe­ri­enced in this field of be­ing a fa­ther, or know­ing how to han­dle a child go­ing through this ex­tra­or­di­nary grief and be­reave­ment. To­gether they are like a bizarre cou­ple be­cause they come from very dif­fer­ent worlds.

“he tries to keep ev­ery­one at a dis­tance”

Can we hope to see Gor­don and Al­fred bust­ing some heads to­gether?

All I can say is that I hope so. I can’t give spoil­ers but in this episode we see some­thing change and their re­la­tion­ship changes and they make a bizarre pact. I rel­ish the chance to do some of the work Ben McKen­zie has been do­ing. I am in heaven do­ing this show. It’s a very rare treat to be in­volved in some­thing where you’re un­happy not work­ing ev­ery day. It’s true! Gotham will start ex­clu­sively on Chan­nel 5 in Oc­to­ber.

Who needs par­ents when you’ve got th­ese two?

“No, don’t cry. Dress up like a bat in­stead. It’ll help.”

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