GOTHAM: Bruno Heller Teases Origin Stories, Villains, and More - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

GOTHAM: Bruno Heller Teases Origin Stories, Villains, and More

September 15, 2014 by  


Hello, potential GOTHAM viewers !

Recently, GOTHAM executive producer/writer Bruno Heller spoke with reporters on a conference call, and we were there to get new information on the show. Keep reading for some teases about what’s in store (and slight spoilers ahead)…

On the conscious effort to put so many characters into the pilot episode, and whether or not future episodes will have more of a “villain of the week” format:
“Obviously the demands of opening big mean that we front-load it with lots of characters and fun just to indicate where we’re going,” Heller acknowledged. “As the show rolls on, it won’t be ‘villain of the week,’ simply because these are such great villains, and their storylines are so big and epic that it kind of would be shortchanging everyone if we did it that way. There are a lot of big characters in the first episode, but as [the series] rolls on, there will be other iconic characters introduced in a much more measured way.

On managing premiere expectations and anxieties:
“Well, one of the key tasks of my job and the set in general is to not to let the hoopla off the set affect what is on the set,” said Heller. “The set is a world unto itself and we are just trying to make the best show we can. The anticipation for the show, and the brilliant job of marketing that Fox has done, is really another world. Inside the world we live in, it’s hard…not to ignore all of the anticipation that is out there necessarily, but more to just let it go by without getting too excited.”

How much will the city of Gotham shape the story?
“Very much so,” Heller promised. “It’s an urban story about city life. Gotham is kind of the dream world that everyone shares. Everyone has a vision of Gotham in their minds. So you really have to create a three-dimensional world that is believable and also a notch above reality–it has a fantastic element. Sort of like NYC in the 70s had gnarly, dark, sexy and attractive, charismatic place….Gotham is a central character. It’s not an accident we call the show Gotham.

On how they drew inspiration for origin stories:
“The immediate attraction was the chance to tell origin stories; they are the aspects of legend stories that I enjoy most,” Heller said. “It’s interesting to see ‘how did things get the way they are?’ This is a world that everyone knows; everyone knows who Batman is, and who the Riddler and the Joker are. So telling their fully fledged adult stories…it’s not ‘been there, done that,’ but it is hard to find a fresh way to tell them. This way, we get to learn how things got to be the way they are, and that to me is one of the great gifts of good narrative. It’s like seeing pictures of your parents before you were born. There’s something intrinsically fascinating about that period before the period we know. And that’s really the feeling we were going for.”

“The main process there has been reverse engineering enough so we have a process to take without destroying all of the iconic elements that people know and love,” Heller added. “At the same time, you want that journey to be as long and interesting as possible. So we can’t start with fully fledged characters, even if we wanted to. There is a whole bunch of history that has to occur before those characters can emerge in all their finery. For me, that is a big part of the fun of the show, both making and watching it — seeing these characters as young people and seeing how they will change over time and giving them space to grow. ”

On the balance between the existing comics and their own spin on the characters:
“It’s a tricky balance, because you obviously don’t want to create a new character,” Heller pointed out. “You have to create a character that is the iconic character — you recognize who it is and they have to have their unique characteristics. But on the other hand, if we just deliver the character that people have seen before, then we’re failing the audience. The Batman world is such a vast world full of so many iterations of these characters. We can’t simply take those elements and regurgitate them. We have to give the audience a fresh look. But in general, even if some of the audience says ‘that’s not my idea of the character,’ a little friction and controversy is not a bad thing. We work closely with DC to make sure we are not betraying the essence of the characters. But we do take some chances now and again.”

On whether there are any characters the show won’t use:
“There are characters that would be difficult—that crocodile guy is a tough one, though we might go there,” said Heller. “We haven’t excluded anyone/anything in the mix. We are looking for characters where there is some story or drama about how they got to be the way they are. And we are looking for characters that can live in the real world of Gotham as opposed to the ‘super-real’ world of Metropolis. It’s not about super power, more about super will. We veer more toward characters who are interesting as people vs interesting because of a particular power or gimmick or costume. But we are ready to go with any of them.”

On casting Sean Pertwee as Alfred — and how the character will be portrayed:
“Alfred will be more of a permissive, enabling father figure,” Heller teased. “What Sean brings to it is an avuncular strength but also a sense of irony. He has strength and power but…in order for Bruce to turn into Batman, Alfred had to be an enabler there. Bruce could not have done this in secret. There would have been a pact, whether spoken or unspoken, that it was allowed. So you have to have an actor with an edge of danger, who is not simply the good, loyal caretaker but is also someone with his own sense of rage inside him. Someone who could carry that, but lightly. And that is what Sean does so brilliantly. We went for a dynamic character who can carry his own stories and is a genuine dynamic influence in Bruce’s life. An actor with great charisma and strength, and underneath you have to feel that he loves and cares for this kid. It is tricky balance that Sean is walking there but he is walking it brilliantly.”

On the current legacy of shows like ARROW and SMALLVILLE and the impact on GOTHAM:
“Both of those shows are WB shows and the DC universe is a big part of WB culture,” Heller said. “I think 10 years ago it wouldn’t be possible, and that is a combination of the brilliance of what the Nolans did to revivify the Batman franchise and also the shows mentioned. People could see that there was an audience and a way of doing that larger than life world on the small screen. The different between those and this one is that those are cable shows and this is network, which means slightly different demands. Those are arena shows, and this has to be a stadium show that has to appeal to an even larger audience. It has to appeal to both people who love Batman and love Gotham and love that world and also people who have no particular love for that universe; you just have to grab them based on the quality of the show and strength of the characters.  But absolutely…we’re in the middle of, just like in the 50s there was a Westerns cycle, we’re in the thick of a superhero cycle.”

Will you be tuning in when GOTHAM premieres Monday, September 22nd on Fox? What intrigues you most about the show, and what are you the most wary about?


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