Monday, June 16, 2014

EW interviews Ben McKenzie for his role as James Gordon in GOTHAM

This is a really great interview of Gotham's lead star Ben McKenzie from Entertainment Weekly. I picked up the ones that I found the most revealing of his approach and process as an actor and his interpretation of Jim Gordon for this CBS drama series.

On playing James Gordon:
"He’s a truly honest man. The last honest man in a city full of crooked people. It’s very tricky nowadays to play a true, honest-to-goodness hero. Everybody is so cynical of people’s intentions. What’s interesting about him is he comes into this city that he hasn’t lived in for two decades, since he was a kid, and has fresh eyes to a world he doesn’t actually know. He thinks he knows it, and his journey will be to figure out how to make it better both for Gotham and himself without completely [losing] the moral standing that he has. He’s not an anti-hero, he’s a true hero — but he will have to compromise."

On the Batman universe:
"I’m a big fan of Batman. I can’t claim I grew up reading a lot of comics — weirdly the one I remember is Iron Man. I would watch repeats of the cheesy biff-pow-bang show, the Adam West version, in the afternoons in Texas. As I grew older, [the depictions of Batman] grew more sophisticated, and I loved the [Christopher] Nolan films. The thing that I think is universally relateable about Batman is he’s not a superhero. He has no special powers. He’s simply a man who’s experienced this extreme trauma, and has access to all sort of gadgets and weaponry that a wealthy person could have, and has an emotional need for justice. As an actor, I’m much more interested in people. Gordon couldn’t be more human. In a DC universe where all of these characters are human, he is Exhibit A in being a simple, flawed human being.
He’s strong, smart and tough, but he’s going to make wrong decisions and trust the wrong people. He has no out—he can’t put on a cape and fly off."

How he prepared for the role:

"I went to lunch with [DC Comics chief creative officer] Geoff Johns and asked, “What do I need to know? I’m familiar with Batman and Gordon, but what’s my responsibility here?” He gave me Gotham Central … and said two things: The origin story of Gordon hasn’t been fully explored before. As central as he is, Gordon has never been the focus. And second, you can’t worry about that. “We hired you to play you and to make this character fresh.” And he said it without provocation. That coming from the guy who’s so well versed in this, saying to make it your own, it was a real pat on the shoulder. There’s a tendency with such a familiar world that it can be intimidating. But you got to relax and do it. It ought to be bigger and grander and — frankly — cooler than most, but you have to treat it like a job."

Read the complete interview HERE

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