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Ben McKenzie Describes the Battle For Bruce Wayne's Soul on Gotham
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 06.19.2014

Ben McKenzie spoke with TV Line about his role as Jim Gordon on Gotham, which premieres this fall on FOX. Check out the highlights:

On celebrating getting the part: "Oh, it was great. I mean, I'm pretty mellow, so it was just dinners with friends and things. I didn't do anything crazy. But there are a lot of Brits on this show, so there was a lot of drinking with the pilot."

On if he feels less pressure because there's no Batman: "I would say that there's always pressure when you're dealing with a world that is so beloved by the fans of that world — and Batman has got to be the deepest and broadest fan base in the entire world, I would think. Maybe Superman [is bigger]…? But I don't even know if that's true. So they care deeply about it, and the responsibility you have as a creative entity within this thing to try to do it well enough to where they don't hate you. Not having Batman I feel is kind of freeing, because it doesn't put pressure on whomever would have to play that role. David Mazouz, who plays the young Bruce Wayne, is a fantastic actor and a lovely young man, and he gets to reinterpret the role. We've seen Bruce at 12, but we usually just use that as the backstory [for a Batman story] and then jump forward. So the fact that we sit there in the present and watch this young man try to understand what his future will be, because he is presented with both alternatives, is a special thing. Alfred and I will battle over his soul, effectively…."

On if that's an apt description of the Gordon/Alfred dynamic: "Broadly and generically speaking, yeah, because Alfred has also been reinterpreted as a much stronger man, a military Royal Forces guy. As such, he's not going to sit there and quietly, kindly explain things to Bruce; he's going to say, "Stiff upper lip, shoulders back, chest up, look grief in the eye and don't blink." Jim is also a military man, but he's also sort of a gentler soul –at least initially."

On Gordon speaking with Bruce in the pilot: "Yeah, he's like, "These [feelings] that you want to push aside are what keep us human and keep us honest." After all, that's what true heroism is, right? True heroism is not saying, "I'm going to take a pill that keeps me from feeling fear and plunge into battle." I need to feel this fear and overcome it for the sake of a larger good. Those are the sorts of things we'll address on this show."

On the challenge of playing one of the few good guys: "It is, because you don't want to feel like the stick in the mud, especially since we live in such a cynical age. [Showrunner] Bruno [Heller] and I talked about this a lot as we made the pilot. If [Gordon] is just like, "Guys, that's wrong" all the time, people are going to be like, "Blech. Let's follow the villains"...So we found at least a bit of a thread with his past, where he idealizes his father, who was a District Attorney, yet he never really knew his father, not as an adult. So there's that, and also the trauma he experienced as a soldier overseas informs his world view. He rejects this moral relativism that is sweeping Gotham, this, "How bad can it be?! A little money on the side!" But at the same time, his moral absolutism can't last in Gotham. You see that it's tested immediately, where he's put in a situation where he can't win."

On the class difference between Gordon and Barbara: "She comes from a very wealthy family, and while Jim wasn't poor by any stretch, that sort of innate class difference is also a bit of an issue. Wherever Jim comes from, he perceives himself as quite blue-collar. He's a cop — he's not an attorney — so he's going to fight injustice at a street level."


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