In the fall finale of the Fox series Gotham, entitled “Rise of the Villains: Worse Than A Crime,” Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is kidnapped and Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) must look to some unlikely and dangerous allies for help. And as the battle of the villains heats up, not everyone will make it out alive.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Chris Chalk talked about how cool it is to play Lucius Fox on Gotham, being a comic book nerd himself, how excited his mother is about the whole thing, his approach to the role, the qualities he wanted Lucius to have, the dynamic between Lucius and Alfred (Sean Pertwee), his loyalty toward Bruce Wayne, wanting to learn more of his character’s backstory, and being used to working on shows that are so secretive (he previously had roles in The Newsroom and Homeland).
Collider: How much fun is it to get to play Lucius Fox?
CHRIS CHALK: It’s pretty fun! Being a comic book nerd and loving all of that, I was like, “I wonder if I’ll ever get on one of those.” Because it’s the ultimate moment for comic book movies and TV shows, I was like, “I wonder which one I’ll end up on.” And then, I was like, “Oh, the coolest one! Awesome!”
Because comic book movies and TV shows are so popular, who in your life is most excited that you’re getting to play this character on this show?
CHALK: Outside of myself, because I’m pretty excited about it, my mother is insanely excited about it. She’s known that I like comic books, but she never really paid attention. Then, I got Gotham and now she’s just like, “I can’t wait for more.” It’s hilarious!
How did you come to the show? Did you know you were up for this specific role, or was it all very secretive?
CHALK: I auditioned for the first season, and it was a cop character. I was like, “Oh, general cop. That doesn’t really seem like he’s going to last.” But, I wasn’t able to do it because of availability. And then, they called around the beginning of this year or the end of last year, and they were interested in me for Lucius Fox. I couldn’t even play coy. I was like, “Yes! Let’s just figure out a way it will work, and we’ll do it.” It’s interesting because it’s such a character heavy show with so many people. It’s definitely an actor passion, doing this show sometimes.
You said that you were a comic book nerd, but did you know anything specific about Lucius Fox before playing him, and do you consider yourself an expert on him now?
CHALK: In the comic book world, and in every variation of comics, he just shows up. He’s not Alfred. He’s not in everything, every time. But, there’s always really important things that he does. He creates things. And there’s the whole Batwing series where his son becomes the Batman in another place, in 20 years. I don’t know if the show will last that long, but maybe I’ll be there. So, no one is an expert because there’s not a ton of information about him. People are like, “He’s a young Morgan Freeman,” but I’m like, “No, it’s two different people playing the same character. It’s the same personality traits that two people are playing.” I think I’ve got a good amount of information on him, and I look forward to becoming an expert in Gotham’s version of Lucius. The fun of it is creating a new reality for this familiar character
From what we’ve seen of Lucius Fox, he’s still a bit mysterious and we don’t know exactly who he is. Were there specific qualities that you wanted to bring to this role?
CHALK: I just wanted to make sure, and I want to continue to make sure, that he’s eloquent and smart. Me and Sean [Pertwee] often talk about how Alfred and Lucius are the two smartest people in a room. Whereas Alfred will get down and dirty, Lucius is far too smart to get in fights and get his hands that dirty, as far as my knowledge of him goes. I don’t write it, so they may have me getting in a fight next week. So, I wanted him to be just as smart as he is and just as put together as he is. He’s a man who keeps it all very close, but is obviously very, very loyal to Bruce Wayne.
When you did the first episode in Season 1, did you know that things would expand beyond that?
CHALK: I knew that I’d be back in the second season because of the contract, but it’s all need to know. It’s being revealed as the scripts are being written. That’s more fun because it allows them their ultimate creativity, and they’re being inspired by the actors and their work, in creating this world.
Are you someone who’s always trying to get the writers to tell you things, or are you okay with what’s in each script?
CHALK: No, I don’t try to get the writers to tell me anything. I come from a bunch of shows where you don’t know, like The Newsroom and Homeland. You don’t get information. You get the information when they tell you the information, so I don’t even think to ask, to be honest. I’m like, “This is just how it works.” I’ve been well-trained by other shows that I’ve bene on.
The scene back in Episode 2, with Lucius and Alfred having a conversation at the bar, was really terrific and their interplay was so much fun to watch. What do you think Lucius thinks of Alfred?
CHALK: I think that Lucius admires Alfred’s passion for the Wayne family. I think that he respects how smart he is and that he gets things done. I don’t know if they go about it the same way, but that’s what makes a person an asset. Someone may go left when you go right, but you both end up at the same point. I think that’s how we both serve the Wayne family.
How was it to shoot that scene and get to banter back and forth?
CHALK: It was great. I think it had a 4 am call, or something terribly early. The space was just gorgeous with a beautiful view. It was actually really, surprisingly quick, to the point that Sean and I both were like, “Wait, we’re done? Did we do okay? Did we do all right?” But, we had so much fun. It fueled us and made us very excited, especially in TV, where there’s not a lot of talking sometimes. To have this awesome dialogue-heavy scene, where we got to play off each other and really size each other up, was very exciting.
Clearly, Alfred would like to be able to confide in Lucius. What can we expect to see from that relationship and how it will develop?
CHALK: A lot of that is yet to be written. Obviously, the comradery develops. I think there’s also a tinge of just making sure this person has everybody’s back. But Bruce trusts me, and that’s really all that matters.
How is it to work with Sean Pertwee?
CHALK: It’s fun because he’s just so vibrant and alive, which lets Lucius be really laser-focused and sharp. We got to share a little bit of that, in that scene. I really like that dynamics of the two.
For those who aren’t familiar with the history between Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox, what is that relationship?
CHALK: You’ll see those seeds being planted this season. We planted the one big crop, and now it is setting its roots. That’s a weird analogy, but it makes sense in my brain.
What’s it like to do scenes with David Mazouz?
CHALK: It’s great! He’s such a pro. He’s always so on top of it. He remains youthful, charming and joyful, and he gets the job done. No one is ever waiting for anybody, really. On some sets, when there are younger people, there are lines forgotten or there are distractions with school. But he’s always prepared, and yet still having fun. It’s not surprising, but it’s really gratifying.
CHALK: Maybe we will. It’s such a huge world of characters. A similar but new history is being created, and it’s very exciting. I look forward to finding out more about everybody, but especially Lucius.
With this season being the Rise of the Villains, does Lucius know what going on with the villains in this city, and what do you think he would like to see happen with the city of Gotham?
CHALK: Lucius just wants to see peace. Whatever his relationship was, as it is revealed from the writers and through the show, with Thomas Wayne, he wants to see justice and peace, and have a little bit of distance from it.
The fall finale of Gotham airs on Monday, November 30th on Fox.