Tonight, Gotham introduced their Mad City theme, following the quickly concluded Fish Mooney story arc, and it seems Gotham showrunners had good reason for getting ahead of themselves. As might be expected by that Mad City theme, the Batman prequel series introduced the Mad Hatter tonight, played to perfection by Benedict Samuel, who is widely known for his previous role on The Walking Dead and for films such as The Walk (2015) and The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015). In coming to Gotham, Samuel reveals how he made the Mad Hatter his own and how his performance as Jarvis Tetch/Mad Hatter inspired Gotham producers to go with a Mad City theme.
Gotham Producers Fell In Love With Benedict Samuel’s Mad Hatter
Heavy reports that the initial theme for this season of Gotham was to be “Heroes Will Fall,” but, upon filming the first few episodes of the new Gotham installment, showrunners decided that they had a bigger winner with the newly dubbed Mad City theme. Executive producer Ken Woodruff says there was a great deal of intrigue created around Samuel’s Mad Hatter, partly because of the actor’s take on the role, but also because Mad Hatter is a new kind of villain.
“We were really intrigued with how he’s not just a villain who blows stuff up,” says the Gotham showrunner. “He’s a villain who can actually needle into the psyche and the emotional space of our heroes.”
Mad Hatter is expected to have a great impact on how the people of Gotham will change this season. Particularly after spending so much time developing origin stories for villains, the show’s producers felt it was time to place greater emphasis on the show’s heroes. Woodruff says Mad Hatter will be at the core of a story arc that will see heroes struggle and fall, even if they must ultimately triumph.
“If last season was about, how did supervillains come into existence, then this season is about the other half of that, which is not only do you need supervillains to exist for a city to fall, but also you need your heroes to fall,” says Gotham‘s Woodruff.
Benedict Samuel Dishes On Bringing Mad Hatter To Gotham
In talking with Decider, Gotham‘s Benedict acknowledges that the Mad Hatter has a long history, stemming from the original Lewis Carroll books. Since Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter character has been reimagined, perhaps redefined, countless times, but Samuel says there’s a definite idea of who Mad Hatter is and who he is not. The Gotham actor says he was hesitant in doing too much to change Mad Hatter for his appearance on the Batman prequel series.
“I would never want to take away how you experience the Mad Hatter and I think that people are going to bring their own experiences to what I do,” says the Gotham actor. “So I’m not trying to carve out something completely different. I’m just using the support that this historical character has kind of allowed me to play.”
Mad Hatter is unique to Gotham because he’s more brain than brawn in a very literal sense. Mad Hatter’s largest trait is his ability to control minds, which is something that may come in handy in his search for his sister, Alice. While he does have his own agenda, Benedict says his character will affect the people of Gotham along the way, bringing their greatest fears to light.
“I think he reminds people that this is a very uncertain town full of uncertainties and dark corners,” Mr. Samuel says of Mad Hatter.
The Gotham actor adds that hypnotizing people is certainly a talent, but he’s not really forcing anyone to do anything they don’t really want to do. The desire is there, buried in the subconscious until Mad Hatter forces those yearnings to the surface. Samuel adds that, in developing his Gotham persona, he felt that ability to compel people to act on their darkest desires was an overriding trait for Mad Hatter and he allowed that to influence how he played the character.
“I kind of hung onto that as a real springboard, because, deep down, what do you want? And if someone knew that and could kind of manipulate that it could be a very interesting world.”
Benedict Samuel loves playing Mad Hatter on Gotham. Who wouldn’t? The ability to bend others to one’s own will is something we have all fantasized about at one time or another. Playing a villain and using that ability to his advantage makes Mad Hatter an exciting role, but Benedict says there’s one thing even more appealing than that.
It’s Mad Hatter’s hat!
“The Mad Hatter has probably the most beautiful hat I’ve ever seen. It’s gorgeous. The costumes that this guy wears are fabulous.”
Gotham airs tonight on Fox.
[Featured Image by Fox]