We catch Gotham’s Fish Mooney, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Given all the hype surrounding Gotham’s use of classic Batman comics characters, it’s ironic that the completely original character of Fish Mooney has garnered so much attention and critical heat. The blame lies squarely at the exquisitely highheeled toes of Jada Pinkett Smith who plays the ambitious mobstress with electrifying gusto. Depending on her mood, Mooney can be colourful and comedic, or edgy and driven. While shrewd, her impulses always keep her on the precipice of disaster as we’ve seen in her banishment via former crime boss mentor Don Carmine Falcone. She’s now on a slow climb to overtake his empire, a career trajectory that’s been wickedly enjoyable to watch. SFX grilled her about what makes Fish such a player in that city called Gotham... Since Fish Mooney has the luxury of existing outside of comics canon, how would you describe her?
I see Fish Mooney as an extreme version of a woman; a woman who wears many faces. A woman who is strong, but yet afraid. This is a woman who, because of her background and because of who she really is, has taken it upon herself to do a lot of cover- up. So, I think she has all of these different kinds of personalities that she picks and chooses to use during certain times. What are they?
You have this sophisticated Fish, or what she considers a sophisticated woman sounds like and looks like. But then, there are times when she loses her cool and you see her original essence, which can get a little gutter. Then sometimes when she has to be influential with men, you’ll see her put on her little, sexy kitten voice. This is a woman who has created all of these different masks to fit different times. Have you had a lot of say in how she’s evolved?
Yeah. I think one of the reasons why the role was so interesting to me was because Bruno [ Heller, showrunner] really wanted a partner in creating this Fish Mooney character, and love female gangsters. just love them. I think that they’re really interesting characters and interesting people. There’s one, Griselda Blanco [ the notorious Medellin Cartel drug lord], who I had studied, and I also love the character [ Norma Desmond] from Sunset Boulevard. I was like, I would really love to do a mixture of these two women, because the one thing I love about the supervillains, and Gotham, is that they’re always so colourful. I really wanted her to be grounded, but also have quite a flair. On- screen, you seem very comfortable in Fish’s skin. Did that character confidence come easily?
Funnily enough, it really feels like as soon as I put on that wig, Fish is there. I put on that wig and her gear, because it’s so specifically her, and it’s an immediate transformation. The first day, as soon as I put on that wig and that dress, I just felt like, “Oh, there she is!” And every time I do it, she just arrives. It’s a really beautiful thing to have as an actress. You just don’t have to work hard for it and that I’m grateful for. That wig, and those heels, and the nails really conjure her. Your character often seems on the knife edge of being arch. Are you always aware of that?
As I was saying before, I love how colourful Fish can be, but at the same time, you still want her to be relatable. You know what I mean? You still want people to be able to look at this woman and while they might not necessarily know her story, be able to relate to her. I think that in this world of Gotham, sometimes finding where you need to be emotionally, or how grounded you need to be in a scene, or how far you can actually go with the colour sometimes tends to be a bit challenging. It’s a see- saw. It’s always trying to find that balance. What about the city of Gotham itself. Is this an intriguing world to you as a person?
Oh, yes. Gotham is so mysterious. There’s this undertone to Gotham, the idea that this city itself is kind of this underbelly and it’s just like, what is going in these alleys? What’s going on in these so- called high rises? What is happening? Why is it that this place has some of the most incredible villains and then you have one of the most
beloved superheroes? Fish and Cobblepot have had quite the reversal this season. How does Fish view his machinations?
I think she saw Penguin as one of her adopted orphans; somebody that she took off the street and helped them become something. So, I think that she felt deeply betrayed by Penguin. It will be interesting to see where their relationship goes from here. What’s most surprising about what’s to come for Fish by season’s end? I think you’re going to see a lot more colour from Fish in the next episodes to come. You’re going to see a lot more vulnerability, a lot more of a human side of Fish Mooney. You’ve seen the ruthless, now you’re going to see some heart..
“She’s an extreme version of a woman; she’s a woman who wears many faces”
Gotham is shown on Fox in the US, and in the UK on Channel 5 on Monday nights.