The release of “The Batman” is approaching, and it is on March 2 that we will be able to discover in theaters the new adventures of the vigilante of Gotham! An event for which we had the chance to discuss with the actor Jeffrey Wright, who plays the lieutenant of police and very precious ally of Batman James Gordon.
Interview with Jeffrey Wright
He is one of the franchise’s most iconic characters, and he too is making a comeback in The Batman. In this new film, around Robert Pattinson in the role of the masked superhero, we will see a whole new cast at work. Opposed to the Riddler and the Penguin, played by Paul Dano and Colin Farrell, we thus find Jeffrey Wright in charge of embodying Lieutenant James Gordon the incorruptible policeman of Gotham City and ally of Batman.
A central role in the universe of the bat, and all the more so in The Batman which is in a more police vein than its predecessors. We spoke with Jeffrey Wright about the creation of his character, the uniqueness of this new film, and its relationship to the Batman mythology.
A new Jim Gordon for a new Batman
Jeffrey Wright: The Batman is unique, in that it exists in its own universe, its own Gotham. And James Gordon, my character, is therefore very specific to this setting, designed and directed by Matt Reeves. I gave myself entirely to his idea, which is that of a very dark, very dirty, and very authentic Gotham. It’s a rewriting of the different versions of the city that we saw before, which were healthier, new, and contemporary versions.
When I read the script and we started preparing, I hoped we wouldn’t take anything for granted. For example, considering that a guy who would arrive in the Batsuit would necessarily be cool, a character universally appreciated and perceived as a hero. In The Batman, it’s actually more of a guy in a weird animal costume, paired with a seemingly respected police officer. Matt had this idea: not to go back to the questions, but to review all the answers already given on these characters.
What I do in the film I do mostly in tandem with Robert Pattinson, so we created a relationship together with a tone and energy that I think works well. So I would say “my” Gordon was created with this other character and with Matt Reeves. In The Batman, Batman has been in business for two years and I am a lieutenant, not yet a commissioner. And it’s exciting because it allows you to put the character in the streets, to really take him to the heart of things.
This story is more of a post origin story, Batman’s relationship with Gordon is recent, but not completely new. This allows us to show the building of trust on the one hand, and on the other hand to draw their relationship to Gotham and its corruption. This is everywhere: in the streets, in the police, in the political sphere, and it is together that they will fight against it.
So we had the opportunity to start almost from scratch. “Who is Batman really? What is his relationship to Gordon? Does he trust him? Should he trust him?” It was both exciting and very formative to work on that.
A unique legacy in the history of fiction
Jeffrey Wright: There are over 80 years of history with Batman, since 1939, so there are a lot of historical moments! For all those who participated in it, whether it’s the scriptwriters, the directors, the actors, in the comics, the series, and the films… So there is a form of pressure, with which come great expectations from the public. I’ve been in very large franchises, but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a level of expectation.
It goes back much further than recent films. And I would even say that the stakes are perhaps even higher today because the world is very changing, the younger generations can have difficulty finding grounds for passion. Corn people keep saying “Hey, Batman is my hero”, same for Catwoman or Jim Gordon. There is an unwavering attachment from the public, and so a new film has to rise to the level.
I really got it doing it, it’s a franchise that people rely on a lot. Whether it’s the heroes or the villains, the audience has a real relationship with them. “Who are they? What do they represent?” And if you decide to explore them in another way, you still have to honor what they were before. That being said, we had little time to think about it. On the set, the attention was entire.