Fox’s new drama series GOTHAM seeks to tell the unknown tale of Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and Catwoman (Camren Bicondova) in the years before Batman took up his mask to right the wrongs of injustice. It will show us the journey Bruce Wayne took during those formulate teen years and how Jim Gordon rose within Gotham’s police force fighting corruption every step of the way. As for Catwoman, she has always been a mystery as to her origins. Fortunately, GOTHAM has found a way to tie all their fates together.
At a recent special press screening, stars David Mazouz and Camren Bicondova, along with executive producer John Stephens, provided some insight as to the entangled journey of Bruce Wayne, Selina aka Catwoman and police detective Jim Gordon.
How does it feel to be stepping into the shoes of such an iconic character?
DAVID: Let’s put it this way: what 13-year old boy does not want to be Batman? Not that I’m playing Batman, but still. My first reaction when I found out that I got the role was: “Oh my gosh, this is the best thing to ever happen to me. This is awesome.” I told all my friends, “I am Batman.” Then a few days later, it hit me, “Oh my god, this is going to be stressful.” When you are playing such an iconic role, there’s always people saying, “You should be doing it like this.” But after we did the pilot, I got a lot more comfortable with the role. There may be a little bit of bumps in the road, but I think it’s going to be a fun, cool role.
From what we have seen, your character Bruce Wayne interacts with Jim Gordon a lot. Is that interaction going to continue through all the episodes?
DAVID: I don’t know. I haven’t seen any of the other scripts yet. But I think that friendship is going to be really cool. This is a part of Bruce Wayne’s life no one has really portrayed. We have seen before the first 5 minutes with the death of his parents, but no other version of the story has gone to this depth. So it will be interesting to see how Bruce Wayne’s two new father-figures influence him — Alfred and Jim Gordon. They essentially raise him.
Do you see yourself portraying Bruce Wayne as a more serious character or will there be a lighter side to him as well?
DAVID: That will depend on the scripts. Whatever is cool with me. But if the pilot is any indication, he is probably going to be more serious. Before Bruce’s parents were killed, he was just a regular boy — well, not a regular boy, he was raised to be a billionaire — but after his parents’ death it’s like a breaking point. He realizes bad things are happening and he wants to do something about it; and slowly 10 years later he comes to another breaking point and becomes Batman. So he has been strongly affected. He’s determine that happened to him is not going to happen to anybody else. That’s his main thing — looking for justice.
What do you most admire about Bruce at this point?
DAVID: I think the thing I admire about him most is ability to keep it together. That was the thing that Danny [Cannon] and Bruno [Heller] emphasized: that he was raised to not show any fear when something bad happens and to always have your head up. I think that matters, that he doesn’t just sit around sobbing.
That scene when he shakes Jim Gordon’s hand at the funeral really showed that. It impressed upon us that it took such strength of character that Bruce was that calm in that moment.
DAVID: Exactly. He has that strength. Jim Gordon was pretty much the first person he talked to after that trauma and he looks up to him. He also trusts him.
What will be Bruce’s biggest challenge? Will it be to hold himself back from investigating on his own?
DAVID: Maybe. Maybe he will be investigating on his own. (Laughs) I don’t know. But as you can see in the pilot, he wants to get into it. He wants to find the bad guy.
So what is it like working with Sean Pertwee, who plays Alfred? He seems a little sassy.
DAVID: Awesome! He’s the nicest guy ever. He’s so warm and lovable. But he’s unlike any other Alfred. He’s a little tougher and outspoken. I think he’s going to be a big part of Bruce’s life just because of who he is, and maybe training him. I could see that.
Do you know if Bruce will be having any scenes with Selina soon?
DAVID: I don’t know yet. I would like to think she would be there investigating with him. But, for now, I think she just wants to see how he’s doing.
Then what’s Selina’s story? Where is she coming from?
CAMREN: She’s a teenage orphan. She’s a skilled pick-pocket and thief, and she lives on the streets of Gotham. She’s living on her own, just surviving, doing what she needs to do.
So what draws her to hover around Bruce Wayne? What attracts her?
CAMREN: I think the fact that neither of them have parents. She hasn’t had a lot of similarities with people because she’s lived on the streets and on her own pretty much her whole life. So she sees him like a kindred spirit. I think that is what stimulates their friendship.
You have the cat-movements down perfectly? How did you come up with that?
CAMREN: I have a background in dance and that helps me a lot. I’m comfortable in my own body and I know which movements look right. I think that is what helps me.
What was the experience of working on the pilot like for you?
CAMREN: It was great. It was exciting. But it was also very cold. The first day shooting, I didn’t expect it to be as cold as it was and it felt like it was a negative 15 degrees. So I had to thaw out my hands and feet for about 45 minutes. After that, they started giving me hot packs to keep warm.
Your character Selina gets in the middle of the action right away and it makes her a pivotal part of the GOTHAM story. How does it feel to be incorporated in so quickly?
CAMREN: I felt kind of special. That was really cool. I like how it twisted the story, like now she knows something that other people don’t and that will definitely be something that effects her and Bruce’s relationship.
Do you think Selina is afraid for her own life?
CAMREN: I don’t think so. I think she’s so used to being on her own that she knows how to protect herself, and if someone was to come at her, she would do what she needed to do.
Have you done any training for the role?
CAMREN: I’ve been taking some parkour classes, learning how to run up walls and stuff like that. That’s really fun.
What do you most admire about Selina?
CAMREN: I admire her confidence and I admire that she’s so cool. She’s just so chill. She’s also so brave and doesn’t really care about what anyone thinks of her. She just does what she needs to survive; she doesn’t care whether it’s good or bad. She’s very independent and I feel like she’s very mature. So it’s really cool to play her. She’s a really interesting character.
After watching the pilot, it is easy to see that you really lucked out with the casting of David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne.
JOHN: We did. He absolutely sells it that he is Bruce Wayne. It’s such a cliche, but it’s true: great actors make each other better. So when you watch him and Ben [McKenzie] in scenes together, it does feel like an embarrassment of riches. We have so many great actors.
So what do you see to be the GOTHAM story? What’s the show about?
JOHN: We’re telling the story of the city. It’s not just the crime of the week. After all, this is the city that created Batman. We want your heart to beat a little bit faster because you’re in this world.
It’s really great to see such iconic characters like Catwoman, Penguin, Riddler brought into the GOTHAM story so quickly. What was the inspiration for that?
JOHN: We loved the idea that these characters are going to run into each other and are going to shape each other into who they are going to be. It’s always interesting when dealing with characters where we know there end-place. Like we know that 15 years from now, Bruce is going to put on the mask and we’re wondering: what is the journey that is going to take him there? Or what is it going to be to make become Catwoman? It is making that unexpected journey that keeps us interested. Plus, with Batman and Catwoman, we’ve always wondered: is it just sexual tension or do they see something in each other — and I think the pilot answers that question.
Another important relationship is that between Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) and to see that develop in the early years is fascinating.
JOHN: GOTHAM is the class noir city. It’s a city like where you look into the darkness and the darkness looks back at you. So Jim Gordon is beginning to see that, and if he is not careful he could become Harvey Bullock. It will be a question of whether Jim will be on this side of the pendulum or the other. We’re always interested in the mirrored version and to see on which side they fall. Like it would be very easy for Bruce Wayne to fall on the dark side and instead of becoming a hero, he could become a villain.
So who is going to be GOTHAM’s ultimate villain for this season?
JOHN: Penguin is our villain. Every season, in theory, will have one iconic villain. Robin [Taylor] is an absolute find. Penguin is an unusual villain and he doesn’t play the heavy, he plays it with a bit more finesse.
To see how Bruce Wayne first meets Selina and whether they shall remain friends or foes, as well as what terror Penguin will wreak on Gotham, be sure to catch the premiere of Fox’s new series GOTHAM in Fall 2014, when it airs Monday nights at 8:00 p.m.