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Gotham Girl

Erin Richards on life in the shadow of the Dark Knight

Gotham City is what you make of it. After years of Batman movies, sequels, TV series and reboots, we’ve all seen a favorite version of the caped crusader come and go. But what we’ve never seen is something quite like Gotham.

The FOX series, premiering September 22, doesn’t concern itself so much with Bruce Wayne, but with the people surrounding him in his beloved city—from cops to villains and the shady characters who fall somewhere in between. 

Here, Erin Richards—who plays blonde-bombshell-with-a-past Barbara Keane—shares her thoughts on secrets, superheroes and conquering her own worst fears. 

How did a British girl end up in Gotham City? 

I did pilot season this year for the first time, and I just had a really lucky week. I auditioned for five different things and got screen-tested for all five. I kind of had to juggle them, because you’re not allowed to screen test for two things at the same time. You have to find a way to make your favorite thing the first thing that you screen test for in case they want you. Gotham was my first screen test and I got the job.

This was your favorite of those five? 

Yes!  I’ve always been a massive fan of Batman. The script was very secretive, so I had to read it right before I auditioned. I sat in a room and read it, which is so much pressure!  You want to read it quickly, so they don’t think you’re an idiot. And then I read it and I just loved it straight away. 

You play Barbara Keane, the fiancée of one-day Gotham Police Commissioner Jim Gordon. What drew you to her? 

Bruno [Heller, who created the show] is amazing at writing female characters. Because I’m playing the lead character’s fiancé, there is a danger that it could just be a woman on his arm, but luckily Bruno just writes the most fantastic female characters.  She’s got all of these different layers going on, and all of this hidden depth and these secrets that are slowly revealed throughout the series—but they’re revealed to me the same time they’re revealed to everyone else.  I look forward to reading the scripts and I hope that people look forward to watching the episodes.  

As a massive Batman fan, what has been your favorite part of being involved in this show?

Something that’s been put in our heads from the beginning is that this is kind of a gritty world.  What I like about our Gotham, our Batman, is that I feel like it has the smallest touch of Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, which to me is like the perfect mix because it’s just this kind of gritty, dark, desperate world with the most brilliant characters. It’s basically the origin stories of all of the baddies of Batman, and to find out how those characters got into their situations is much more interesting storytelling.

Did you have major training for the part? Do you have to be able to do superhero stunts? 

There are some exciting things coming up that I had to train for, but if I tell you, it’d give it away. 

You’re living in New York and shooting Gotham. What’s the difference between the two cities?

I’ve been doing loads of stuff in New York: I started an improvisation course at Upright Citizen’s Brigade and that’s great.  I’ve been doing something called Qigong, which is like a Chinese breathing practice that’s the basis of all the martial arts. I recently stopped and did it in the middle of a sidewalk in Manhattan because I was like, what would happen? And it looks stupid, almost like ballet. 

What? What happened? 

Nobody looked at me. I had so much fear about doing it, but nobody cared. 

Do you have a favorite Batman?

I grew up with Val Kilmer as my Batman, but in terms of the films, I really like Tim Burton’s Batman Returns because it’s got Michelle Pfeifer; she’s so fantastic. 

If you could be one of the villains who would it be?

Penguin, because I love his storyline and [co-star] Robin Lord Taylor is knocking it out of the park.

 

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