'Gotham' Casting: Who's Playing Gordon, Alfred, the Penguin — and Are They a Good Fit?
After spending three years healing people on TNT's "HawthoRNe," Jada Pinkett Smith is ready to get back to hurting them. Smith has been cast in the new Fox/Warner Bros. series "Gotham," a prequel of sorts to the Batman mythos, as "sadistic gangster boss" Fish Mooney.
If that name doesn't sound familiar even to die-hard DC Comics fans, that's because the character was created specifically for the show. However, her underlings include one Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin, a name we do recognize. Given the nature of penguins and fish, Smith had better watch her back.
Possessed of "street smarts and almost extrasensory abilities to read people like an open book," it's very much in keeping with executive producer Bruno Heller's current show "The Mentalist" — also about a person with "almost" superhuman abilities.
Dark Horse Comics writer Korey Hunt thinks it will give the show legs without taking liberties with established comic history — something that often drives fans into a frenzy. "Gotham pre-Batman was a more traditional organized crime environment. It could be interesting to see the very beginnings of the gangsters versus freaks thing that plays out in 'The Long Halloween,' [the 13-issue comic book limited series that takes place during Batman's early days of crime fighting]."
Fan response online has been muted, but positive. No one has seen Smith in a role like this, but her work in the "Matrix" films proves she can do, "Imposing and hotheaded [...] not one to be crossed."
A flurry of casting announcements for "Gotham" set fans quivering in the past week. Led by Benjamin McKenzie ("Southland," "The O.C.") as Det. James Gordon, the show will explore the origins of the eventual Commissioner Gordon as a fresh-faced cop facing a corrupt city as well as some villains before they meet the Dark Knight.
"Got some reading to do," tweeted McKenzie, lead in "Gotham." The tweet was by accompanied by a picture of a stack of Batman trade paperbacks. The 35-year-old actor was following the advice given to him by Gary Oldman, who has played the role of Commissioner Gordon for the last nine years on the silver screen.
Got some reading to do. # gotham pic.twitter.com/ujRRy6YL1v— Ben McKenzie (@ben_mckenzie) February 12, 2014
Five more series regular roles have been cast, and more names are expected to surface soon. Twitter has been filled with fan reactions (we've culled some below), and the cast and crew will likely be responsive to their enthusiasm. The success of shows like "Arrow" have shown that the TV audience is hungry for an alternative to the flashy, effects-heavy superheroes that populate summer blockbusters.
Benjamin McKenzie, Donal Logue, Robin Lord Taylor, Zabryna Guevara, Sean Pertwee, and Erin Richards
McKenzie played rookie cop Ben Sherman on "Southland" for five seasons, so the transition to rookie Det. Gordon should be easy. Making it even easier, this is McKenzie's second Batman-related endeavor: He was also the voice of Batman himself for the direct-to-DVD movie "Batman: Year One."