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SDCC 2014: Gotham Press Room

David Kane ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The room was crowded with round tables and about a dozen cast and crew members representing the upcoming Fox show Gotham. I only had time to interview three people during the forty-five minutes, but they were illuminating to talk to.

The cast of Gotham. Photo Credit: FOX
The cast of Gotham. Photo Credit: FOX

Camren Bicondova (young Selina Kyle) was the first cast member to sit down with us. “How much weight was on your shoulders playing such a famous character?” asked one journalist. She said there’s a little bit of pressure, but it doesn’t get to her because when people ask, “How does it feel to play Catwoman?” She has to answer, “I’m not playing Catwoman” So she leaves out the expectations as she plays the character in a completely different part of her life, and if they don’t like it then it’s ok.

One man commented on how cat-like her performance was in the pilot, and he asked how she prepared for the physicality of the performance. She answered, “I actually have a cat at home: his name is Mr. G. I watched him a lot. He’s kinda my acting coach. He’s a Tonkinese. And when I auditioned I had to show cat movements, so I went on YouTube and looked up Cats the musical, so that inspires me too.”

The fifteen year old actress said she’s been a dancer since she was five and has been taking parkour classes so that she can do some of her own stunts. Some are still too dangerous, but Camren was adamant about mentally and physically inhabiting the character. When asked about the relationship between Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne she said I think Bruce intrigues Selina because she can relate to him after he loses his parents. They live completely different lives, but they share the tragedy of being an orphan.

I asked if she had read any comics for the role, and she said she ordered a bunch of comics off of Ebay to read and watched the Adam West Batman television show. She closed her session by answering the question, “How far down the line do you think Selina is as an evil person, and is she past that point where she could have been good?” Camren said she doesn’t think Selina is evil yet. Any evil person starts off in a good place anyway; she’s just trying to survive on her own. “I’ve yet to see what makes her the way she is when she is Catwoman. What’s so great about this job is that I’m learning about the character as they film, so it’s really exciting.” She thanked us and left the table.

David Mazouz joined us to discuss his role of the young Bruce Wayne in Gotham. We asked him if he was having fun and he responded, “Is this not fun?” We all laughed and asked him what was most interesting about playing a character with so much history and influence over pop culture. He said that it was incredibly exciting and he was so happy when he got the part; he was most intrigued by the question of where people in power come from. “When you see a person in power like Barack Obama, you wonder what he was like in high school.” David explained, “what happened to him to lead him to the place of power and authority?”

I asked if he had read any comics in preparation for the role, and he said yes he read a lot. DC Comics Archive Edition that included a dozen of the first issues Batman every appeared in beginning with Detective Comics #27. He also had Batman 101 that explained everything you need to know about the character: gadgets, allies, enemies, everything. When asked who his favorite Batman was, David said, “probably Christian Bale, because he had the same approach as my mine. A darker, more real, sort of subtle ‘I want to avenge my parent’s death’ take on the role.”

Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue in the series premiere of Gotham. Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX.
Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue in the series premiere of Gotham. Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX.

Some one asked what aspect of the character he liked playing. He said that it’s not just an iconic role, Bruce is an interesting person. He’s lonely and scared, Alfred and Jim Gordon being his only friends. David complimented the actors playing those roles and said he had fun working with them. He said, “What appealed to me is that at the beginning he doesn’t have much emotionally, and his parents’ deaths give him a drive that you know is leading toward Batman.” He said he couldn’t imagine losing his own parents and used that to enter the mindset of the orphaned billionaire. He said that when he first got the role he was so excited and knew it was going to be an amazing opportunity, but it didn’t really hit him until after the first day of filming the pilot. He went home and was jumping up and down on his bed for half an hour.

“What’s the most difficulty you had working on the role?” asked one journalist. He said that he doesn’t have much difficulty, but it’s a lot of work going through the character step by step gaining more ground over multiple episodes. He had to discover what he would do in every situation, but so far it’s all been good and fun. David closed by answering what his favorite scene to film was. He said hands down the murder scene, where he had to scream over the Waynes’ bodies. His throat was sore and his emotions were raw, and it was so much fun to be a part of this ambitious project. He thanked us all and left with a smile.

Jada Pinkett Smith in the series premiere of Gotham. Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX.
Jada Pinkett Smith in the series premiere of Gotham. Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/FOX.

Robin Lord Taylor sat down and excitedly shook hands with journalists, introducing himself as the actor playing Oswald Cobblepot: the man who would come to be known as the Penguin. When asked if he was intimidated by the prospect of taking on such an iconic character, Robin said that he understands he’s following the likes of Burgess Meredith and Danny Devito, but his take on the character is totally fresh. Gotham shows a part of the Penguin’s life that no one has ever seen, and Robin said that gives him the chance to define his take on the character s unique.

How do you get into this mindset of a violent killer? He laughed and said it’s written so well that it’s all right there, and because they shoot so fast, the energy just carries it through. “We all want to work out those dark parts of our personality in a fun safe, make-believe way.”

One journalist asked, “How far would you say that your character is evil?”

“He’s finding his footing in evilness. He starts in the show at a low place on the totem pole and ends up even lower, and so crawls his way back to Gotham, and the evilness is his tool to grab power. Power is his only motivation, and his endgame is to run the show.”

I asked him if he had read any comics in preparation for the role, and he said he found a couple origin story comics. He pulled up the names that he had written down in preparation for the interview and read off a Secret Origin Special about the Penguin being bullied in prep school. He just started reading Pain and Prejudice and said there’s so much fun in researching this famous character and preparing to play him in a new way. “How rare is it to play a character where there’s seventy-five years of material that goes back? The research and is all right there.”

Someone asked what resonated with him about the role and the show in general. Robin said the Batman universe is populated with mortal people, and Robin relates to all those characters coming from a real place, we can all relate to being a bullied kid like Penguin, and that was written in the 40s and 50s and it still resonates today. He ended by saying it’s so much fun to be a part of this cool project and he can’t wait to keep going with it.

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