Superhero television shows are all the craze right now. Take for example all four of Netflix/Marvel shows, ABC’s Agents of SHIELD, The CW’s Supergirl and The Flash, NBC’s Powerless, FX’s Legion, and Fox’s upcoming X-Men series. But so far, Fox’s other superhero show, Gotham, set in the Batman universe and halfway through season 3, is the show that fans are truly going crazy for. ShowBizCafe was invited to a special private screening of the spring season premiere with the cast at the Whitby Hotel in New York City. It was followed by Q&A with members of the ensemble and a pre and post cocktail reception. We were lucky enough to sit down with not just with star Ben McKenzie who plays the young Commissioner, but with other well-known actors in the series as well. Our Q&A below…
Andrea Huswan (AH): Ben, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and answer a few questions.
Ben McKenzie (BM): It’s my pleasure.
AH: You must be so excited about the new season! What can the fans expect differently from this season than from the last two?
BM: I think it’s just the evolution of the show, at this point it really has taken a life of its own, it has carved out this little niche within the Batman universe. Our show as an origin story is focused on the evolution of all of these iconic characters, in my case, from a rookie detective to a police commissioner but you see all of the characters evolve; Bruce Wayne from a young boy into a teenager, a kind of more brooding physically imposing figure that he will eventually become. And all of the villains and how they evolve, the alliances, the betrayals. You know this season is just a continuation of the others, but with each passing episode the show gets deeper and stronger.
AH: With three seasons already, what do you think it’s the reason that the show keeps getting renewed? What is the appeal of the show?
BM: You know I think people were initially tuning in out of curiosity. We have this show set in the Batman universe but before Batman becomes Batman, you want to know what is the new take on it. Now that we’ve been on for a little while, we’ve established who we are and what we’re about, which isn’t to say that people aren’t still discovering the show, as it rolls out all over the world. People are appreciating the show as its own unique little corner of the superhero world, and our specific take on the Batman universe, which is very distinctive from the other superhero universes out there. It’s a dark dangerous world full of sexy treachery, it’s an adult show, and I’m very proud of it.
AH: Well, as you know, DC will soon premiere the Justice League movie later on this year, do you think DC will finally win over some Marvel fans?
BM: You what, I honestly don’t know, I assume that the movie will be very strong. The Justice League has great characters and putting them all together is a huge selling point. I’m definitely excited for the movie and to see the reaction from both DC and Marvel fans.
I spoke to a fan favorite villain, the one and only, The Penguin, who is portrayed by Robin Lord Taylor.
AH: Congratulations on a spectacular musical performance in this episode! Your portrayal of The Penguin is a fan favorite.
Robin Lord Taylor (RLT): Aha, thank you so much. Fun fact, we recorded that song in the same recording studio as Amy Winehouse, so that was pretty cool.
AH: Do you find it frustrating when people compare your character with the Joker?
RLT: No, not at all! I take it as a complete compliment because I will say, that all of us, us villains, we are taking a page from Heath Ledger, so I’m directly influenced by him so I take that as an honor. His performance redefined what you do with a character like this, how to anchor it to reality. I have to say, we are adding some unpredictability to the character of The Penguin, and I think people are seeing that as a jokeresque quality, where like the character itself, if you go back to the comics was just as unpredictable. We’re just beginning to bring that out.
I also had a one on one with some of the fierce female leads, Maggie Geha and Camren Bicondova.
AH: Since it was your first season, how do you feel portraying Poison Ivy?
Maggie Geha (MG): I honestly don’t know if I’m more terrified or more excited to see the second half of the season, I do appear on the second half more so I’ve been working a lot more which is awesome. I can’t wait to see how it comes out, I’m dying to see it!
AH: I’m sure you did great! What was your reaction when you got the news that you got the role?
MG: Oh I freaked out! I was with my best friend when I got the call and I just hit the floor, I was like laughing and crying at the same time, it’s a dream role for me. I love Poison Ivy, basically any characters that have red hair, you know, Jessica Rabbit, or The Little Mermaid, because I have red hair and that is such a big and important part of my identity. I always loved Poison Ivy, I love plants, I’m vegan like Ivy on the show.
AH: There’s a lot of similarities between you and your character.
MG: Yes! It’s like no acting require!
AH: How do you think your character, Selina, has grown throughout the seasons?
Camren Bicondova (CB): She’s developed a lot in the sense that she has been broken down, and now she’s building herself over. She’s finding herself rather than convincing herself that she knows who she is. That’s what I loved about this past season and this complex character. I’m looking forward for people to see that there’s a difference between saying that you know who you are and believing it.
It wouldn’t be a reception without the life of the party, Chris Chalk, who plays Lucius Fox. And we really mean life of the party! 😝
AH: Here at ShowBizCafe, we are always looking for TV shows, movies and music recommendations, what would recommend our readers?
Chris Chalk (CC): Currently we’ve been watching a lot of HBO, that’s my fiancé Kimberly, we do this game where it’s top five right now, knowing that it’s going to change tomorrow, or in 20 minutes. Mine right now is: Logan, Get Out, Rudy is always on there, Captain Fantastic, which was so good. That’s all I can think of right now.
Kimberly Dalton Mitchell (KDM): Be honest with her about the TV shows you watch!
CC: I watch a lot of anime.
CC: America’s Next Top Model. Why are you blowing our cover like that?
AH: Okay but who doesn’t watch America’s Next Top Model?
CC: We also watch The Night Of, which was awesome! We love Westworld as well, oh and I’m super into Legions, it’s pretty good so far, it’s one of those shows that it’s good if it ends good.
AH: What kind of music are you into right now?
CC: I love Hall & Oates, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, love Chance the Rapper. Here let me take my Spotify out. (He actually did!) I like Sia, and the last song I added is from Alejandro Sanz, but it’s from 1999.
AH: Really? What song?
CC: I was in Europe during this time, touring for the show, and I fell in love with his album. Amiga Mía, La Margarita Dijo No, Corazón Parti-da.
CC: Aha yes, partido, thank you, I’m still getting the hand of pronunciation.
AH: Are you learning Spanish?
CC: Yes, somebody who works in our building helps me, I also have some people on Instagram who help me out as well. Fans will hit you up in the DM, and they don’t have anything to say so I make them teach me stuff.
AH: That is such a cool way to interact with your fans!
CC: Yeah like I don’t want to be just like “Hey!” so I got about three people, one guy is actually studying Spanish, so he tells me what he learned that day. My guy, Kelvin, I think I’m outgrowing him.
AH: Do you know any phrases?
CC: Nothing appropriate… I mean there is no phrase, I just go to him every day after Jiu-Jitsu and he says, “¿Qué tal?” And I say, “Bien gracias, ¿y tú? And then I ask him how to say certain things, whatever it is, I just learn it. Depends on what I want to talk that day.
AH: Are there any other languages that you want to learn?
CC: Portuguese because I study Jiu-Jitsu and I want to go to Brazil but I don’t want to be that dude that goes to Brazil and doesn’t know the language, and it is a tough language. It’s tough to translate, I need a lot of help.
AH: Any language is hard to learn at first. How about we test out your Spanish knowledge?
CC: Alright, bring it on.
AH: Hola, ¿Cómo está?
CC: Bien gracias, ¿y tú?
AH: Muy bien. ¿Está emocionado por la nueva temporada de Gotham?
CC: That was way too fast.
The spring season premiere of Gotham is on April 24 at 8 PM on FOX. Also, follow us on Instagram for more photos of the cast and Q&A!