In Part 2 of our interview with Gotham Knights co-creator and Co-Executive Producer Natalie Abrams, we discuss some of the DC Comics heroes and villains that we will be seeing in the series which premieres Tuesday, March 14 on The CW. If you missed Part 1 of the interview, you can find it here, and on Tuesday before the show, we’ll be posting our interview with “Harvey Dent” himself, Misha Collins!
Here’s part 2!
GOTHAMSITE’S CRAIG BYRNE: Those who follow you on social media have seen you’re posting daily behind the scenes photos as we lead to the premiere on Twitter (at @NatalieAbrams). Can you talk about the decision to do that?
NATALIE ABRAMS: Honestly, I’m just a nerd. I’m just excited about sharing this journey, and because I’m not the only nerd out there, [I figured] somebody else might appreciate this. And I remember, being a fan of these shows, and getting so excited to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
So, I just want to share in the journey of how cool this is: My first TV show that I’ve helped co-create, and I get to play in the world of Gotham with the most amazing cast and crew.
We brought in Elizabeth Henstridge from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as one of our directors at one point, and I had to ask her, “hey, you’ve been on a lot of sets, both as a director and as an actor. Is it normally like this?” And she’s like, “no, this is special. Everybody’s just so positive.” Everybody loves infusing their own artistry into the show, and that’s what’s been so much fun, and such a positive experience, so I just want to spread that to everyone else and show them what we’ve been doing.
Is the belfry set really multiple levels?
We shot the pilot in Toronto, and then we moved down to Atlanta, so, initially, you will only see the top level of the belfry of the pilot, but as we progress, yes, it is two levels. It is incredible. The set is ever evolving as these Knights are stuck in the belfry, hiding out and trying to clear their names. It’s probably one of my favorite sets that we have, chock full of Easter eggs, and I will tease that maybe there’s even one on the clock.
I’ve heard that you’re having the show’s visual effects team at CoSA VFX creating a lot of dirigibles to fly in the Gotham City skyline. Can you talk about that?
We wanted to show right off the bat that this was a different Gotham, and I think there’s nothing that speaks to that more than seeing a GCPD dirigible in the sky. And so every chance we get, we’re trying to infuse those, and we’re so excited. I remember emailing [The CW] seeing if the poster has a dirigible on it, and they were like “it has two!” I was like “yes, yes!”
CoSA is such an incredible partner, having [VFX Supervisor] Tom [Mahoney] on set and then David [Beedon] on set throughout the series. I feel so lucky to see them create such like iconic, stunning visuals.
Many of the characters in Gotham Knights are established from the comics. You mentioned Stephanie Brown was a character you wanted to work with. Can you talk about which characters from the Batman universe were particularly important to you to include in this series?
Well, Stephanie Brown, of course… I think her run in Batman: Eternal is one of my favorites, so it was important for me to bring her into the show, because I think she’s got this tragic backstory, that really also speaks to all of our characters dealing with this idea of legacy. “Am I going to follow in my parents’ footsteps, or am I going to forge my own path?” Every single character on our show deals with that.
What I love for Stephanie is that if you’ve read the comics, you know that it sort of looks, for all appearances, like she has the perfect life, and that is anything but the truth, and so, to explore how a high school student is handling that situation, I think, is really relatable to a lot of people.
Harper Row and Cullen, I was so excited to get to bring them to life for the first time in live action. I have had two different sets of twins in my life where one transitioned. I always found that super interesting, too. You’re supposed to be looking at a mirror reflection of yourself, but you’re not seeing yourself, so how does that affect you? So, it was really important to me to bring that to this character, even though he is not trans in the comics. Tyler [DiChiara] has brought Cullen to life and in ways that I never could have imagined. He’s brought such rich depth to the character, and Fallon [Smythe] has these walls she’s able to put up as Harper, to keep people out and push people out, and yet, she has this soft vulnerability that’s working just beneath the surface that she balances so well.
And of course, you know, telling a story of Duela, the Joker’s Daughter, again, this speaks to legacy. Everybody has told her, her whole life, “you are the bad kid, because of who your father is.” So of course, she’s going to be the best bad kid. But now, when forced into a situation where in order to clear her name, she may be doing some good things. How does she feel about that? What’s that journey like for her? It’s going to be really interesting as we go along through the season, and Olivia [Rose Keegan], just from her very first audition, captured Duela in such a fun, slightly unhinged way.
Same thing with Navia as Carrie Kelley. I remember watching the video [of her first audition] and just being like, yeah, that’s Carrie!” She has this feel of being wise beyond her years. I really loved Frank Miller’s run with Dark Knight Returns and and getting to play in that world of not just Carrie Kelley, but bringing in the Mutant Gang… it’s just felt right to see what a young disciple of Batman would bring to this team. In so many ways, she’s the youngest of our group, but in many ways, she’s also the most experienced. That is a really interesting dynamic that may not always rub the characters on the show.
Finally, bringing in Turner Hayes, a brand new creation and adopted son of Batman, who, has dealt with not one loss of a parent, but twice his his own parents were murdered, and to see… it’s like a split in legacy, again, of “do I follow my dad’s path and become the hero? Or, in doing that, am I lessening my relationship with my own parents? Can I remember their faces? I’m so focused on solving Bruce Wayne’s murder, but what about my own parents?” And so there’s a really great, rich, emotional journey there that Oscar Morgan brings to life in many beautiful ways.
There are some coins going around Gotham City. Can you tease who might be leaving them, and could those coins have anything to do with what we know to be the fate of Harvey Dent?
It has been revealed in many a trailer at this point: The Court of Owls are a big part of our mythology in the first season of Gotham Knights, and what is so scary about them as they have been so scary in comics is that you do not know who you can trust. You do not know who is part of this conspiracy that literally dates back to the founding of Gotham itself. And so, it is a question for all of our heroes, of who can they turn to? Who can they rely on, other than themselves? It will cause quite a divide as we move forward in the season. But also, getting to play with the Court of Owls: DC was just so kind to us. I remember when we emailed our DC exec at one point when we were in development, and we were looking for a Court of Owls-esque organization that could be pulling the strings. They e-mailed back, and they said, “what if we could give you the Court of Owls?” and I think the three of us all screamed so loud. We were just so thrilled. I loved when that run [of comics] came out, because it changed what you thought you knew about Gotham, and realizing that there are vast moments in history that you’re now seeing through a different lens, knowing the Court of Owls has been around for hundreds of years, I think that really speaks to what you’re going to see on the show as well. As for the coin, I’m going to have to say “no comment” on that for right now.
Does Season 1 have a set ending, or is there definitely a hope that there will be more?
All I can do is be cautiously optimistic. There is a close to a chapter, but there is the opening of what we hope are more chapters to come. And all we can do at this point is make the best show possible, and it’ll be up to viewers to decide if they’re along for the ride with us.
Do you have any last things you’d like to say to the fans who will be reading this?
I’m really grateful to everyone who has been so kind to us on this journey. Sure, there are some loud people that want to write us off immediately, and that’s okay. I get it. We’re not going to please everyone, we’re not going to make everyone happy, but all I can feel good about is getting to tell stories that matter, and getting to tell stories where people see a reflection of themselves on screen, who can maybe relate to something that they thought they were so alone about, and realize “oh, no, there are other people dealing with the same issues.” And as long as we’ve done that, and we’ve created this little family who have had a positive run on set, then that’s it. That’s icing on the cake. Everything else, whatever happens in our future, we’ll always have Season 1 of Gotham Knights. And for that, I’ll always be grateful.
Gotham Knights premieres Tuesday, March 14 on The CW, right after the new season of Superman & Lois.