“Maybe 20 years from now the mous­tache will feel earned”

The one- time voice of Bat­man moves to Gotham to give Gor­don a new face

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Front page - Words by tara ben­nett Por­trait by Alek and St eph

The name James Gor­don should be as fa­mil­iar as your own if you’ve spent qual­ity time in any era of Bat­man mythol­ogy. Usu­ally ad­dressed as Com­mis­sioner, the veteran of the Gotham City Po­lice Depart­ment has earned his place as the Dark Knight’s brother- in- arms. He’s one of the last good guys in Gotham, ut­terly in­cor­rupt­ible and Bat­man’s lone, trusted con­nec­tion to po­lice re­sources. Gor­don’s usu­ally seen as a clas­sic mid­dle- aged man, bro­ken down by years of fight­ing foes both in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal. But TV pre­quel Gotham takes us into largely un­charted ter­ri­tory. The new show por­trays James Gor­don as a much younger man, a re­cent mil­i­tary vet who takes a de­tec­tive po­si­tion in the trou­bled GCPD. Ac­tor Ben McKen­zie puts his own spin on the beloved character, re­tain­ing his ide­al­ism but also let­ting his in­ex­pe­ri­ence and flaws ex­pose new facets of the man. SFX met with him to get the low­down on this new, sur­pris­ing Gor­don… How does one get cast as Com­mis­sioner Gor­don?

Last year Bruno [ Heller, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer] and I did a pi­lot for CBS/ WB that didn’t go to se­ries. He called me ear­lier this year and said he had writ­ten the part of Jim Gor­don with me in mind. Bruno and I like work­ing to­gether and we have a good short­hand. It’s both ex­cit­ing to be a part of this kind of mythol­ogy that’s been around for 75 years, but it’s also a bit daunt­ing. In what way?

It was both an at­trac­tion and a cause for a se­ries of meet­ings to talk about how ex­actly this would work and how we wouldn’t screw it up and how I wouldn’t em­bar­rass my­self com­pletely. Bruno and [ ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer] Danny Can­non more or less as­sured me that worst case it would only mildly fail. It wouldn’t be a huge dis­as­ter, so that was pretty much how it all came to be. [ Laughs] Who is your fa­vorite Bat­man vil­lain?

I have a soft spot in my heart for Nygma; I’ve

“It’s ex­cit­ing and daunt­ing to be part of a 75- year mythol­ogy”

al­ways liked The Rid­dler. I know that is a very un­ortho­dox choice. A lot of peo­ple hate The Rid­dler, but I find him fas­ci­nat­ing. Gor­don and his Gotham PD part­ner Har­vey Bul­lock ( Donal Logue) carry a lot of the show on their shoul­ders. How did you and Donal hit it off ?

There was a real easy con­nec­tion we re­alised very early on. We reached out to each other and said we’ve got to make this as good as we can be­cause it’s go­ing to live or die, at least in the pi­lot, in large mea­sure to whether we like th­ese two guys in­di­vid­u­ally and to­gether. Whether we like this part­ner­ship. At the end of the day, we are re­ly­ing a bit on that old cop con­ceit, a mis­matched pair of cops, and find­ing a way of do­ing that that feels au­then­tic, and is en­dear­ing and is in­ter­est­ing to watch. So, with him it was easy. We get to see the first meet­ing of Gor­don and a young Bruce Wayne. How would you cat­e­go­rize their re­la­tion­ship?

He meets Bruce when Jim and Har­vey are charged with in­ves­ti­gat­ing the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne. He bonds with Bruce be­cause Jim lost his fa­ther when he was Bruce’s age. They form a bond im­me­di­ately and have a fa­ther/ son re­la­tion­ship of sorts. How is it work­ing with a young ac­tor like David Ma­zouz?

David is a re­ally ter­rific ac­tor, he re­ally is. He lis­tens, which is an in­cred­i­bly hard thing to teach any­one, and it’s some­thing that I strug­gle with now. Any ac­tor strug­gles with it. It’s the hard­est thing to do on cam­era, I think. He’s more calm than I am, I’m kind of blown away some­times. [ Laughs] Did Bat­man: Year One in­flu­ence your work in Gotham?

I’d like to think so. I’ve al­ways been a fan of Year One, even be­fore I did the voice of Bruce/ Bat­man for it. And so it was an op­por­tu­nity to reread it as an adult and look more closely at it in terms of how to in­ter­pret it on screen, al­beit just with my voice, not my body. I would say it cer­tainly pulled me in a lit­tle bit closer. Jim is bat­tling Gotham’s vil­lains but also his own depart­ment. How does he cre­ate a cir­cle of trust? Some of the first sea­son is Jim fig­ur­ing out which cops in the depart­ment he can trust, and which ones he can’t, and there’s some sur­pris­ing twists and turns in those re­la­tion­ships. Some peo­ple that you would think would be his en­e­mies are ac­tu­ally kin­dred spir­its, and he needs to as­sem­ble a team, go­ing

for­ward, that he can ac­tu­ally use to bring jus­tice. Gor­don usu­ally sports a fetch­ing mous­tache. Where’s yours?

We lit­er­ally never talked about it and then I brought it up with [ Bruno] and he goes, “No, that would look ridicu­lous on you. We’re not do­ing that.” It’s 20 years be­fore Jim can grow into the ma­tu­rity and wis­dom that it takes to sport a mous­tache. Maybe 20 years from now

the mous­tache will feel earned.

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