The Batman mythos, which has been going strong for 75 years, is overflowing with colorful characters just waiting to get their due.
With the new Fox Batman prequel series “Gotham,” set when Bruce Wayne was a boy, the cops of Gotham Central take center stage. Detective James Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie (“Southland,” “The O.C.”), new to Gotham City, is the focal point, and his veteran partner is Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, “Terriers”), a cop willing to look the other way to get things done.
While Gordon has played central roles in the “Batman” movies, the slovenly, old school cop Bullock is more of an ancillary character, though he was vital in the comics — he first appeared in “Detective Comics” No. 441 from June 1974, created by Archie Goodwin and Howard Chaykin — and the wonderful “Batman: The Animated Series.” He also was one of the key figures in the underrated comic book series masterpiece “Gotham Central,” which focused on the police.
“Gotham Central is definitely the bible,” Logue, 48, says. “It is such a good book.”
amNewYork spoke with Logue about the role.
Had you heard of Harvey Bullock?
I actually have the [“Batman: The Animated Series”] from my kids and they’ve watched it all the time, so that was my first exposure to Harvey Bullock. Later, when I found out I was doing this, I went into “Gotham Central.” So that’s when they really start getting into Harvey. In some ways, Harvey’s a bit darker. … You have to feel free to forge the character that you think you can. If I tried to do the animated version of this, it would last for five minutes. That was also one other actor’s interpretation.
Do you see Harvey as a good guy in a corrupt system?
Absolutely. I’m a believer in moral relativism. … And sometimes you have to do a deal with the devil with a small d to deal with a bigger Devil. I think he’s just a survivor in this stage in “Gotham.” One thing that comes to light later is there’s some interesting information revealed that partially explains why he made a transition from a Jim Gordon-like character, why he “learned.”
This guy’s in a toxic world, now he’s just kind of beaten down, he’s surviving in it and he wants to get to see his pension. And someone like Jim Gordon presents a problem because he’s this save-the-world, gung-ho do-gooder and he’s going to cause him more work, he’s going to drag him into danger. But ultimately, I don’t think, surprise, surprise, he brings out the better side of Harvey Bullock. He reminds him of who he used to be when he was idealistic.
How is your rapport with Ben?
Massively good. Ben is like a gentleman of the old school. Not surprisingly that they’re both from Texas, but he reminds me a bit of Bill Paxton. He’s super hardworking, he carries the show on his shoulders, he’s polite, he’s good with cast mates and the crew. He sends me random email and texts like, “Dude, thank you for being such a mensch, it’s such a pleasure to be on this journey with you.” I can’t say enough good things about him.
Are we going to see characters in costumes?
I think that they are treating it like they’re going to be on an arc that has to unfold over a long time, so they’re leaking that stuff out in bits. I could see us moving toward that, but we haven’t quite gotten to that place that you might be thinking of yet.
Is there a villain you’re really eager to see in the show?
The Joker is kind of a crown prince, as Bruno [Heller, the series’ creator] would say. I would say, and I know the Joker will come at some point — I don’t know when, who or where — but that would be awesome.
Is it tough to have a show set in Batman’s world without the Dark Knight himself?
Batman is in it a lot because you see this kid becoming engaged in the city politics, engaged in what’s wrong with the town. And he’s precocious, and he wants to start to test himself and he wants to toughen himself. ? He is Batman. His name is Bruce Wayne right now.
You look great in the fedora. Had you been a hat guy before this?
I wasn’t a hat guy, but that is one thing from Harvey Bullock that I did want to take. That was such a part of his character. That, and sometimes, I might achieve it, but the pizza stains on his shirt.