Gotham's Newest Villains Reveal Long History, Mission of Revenge

(Photo: Lucas Siegel)

The Galavan family has a long and rich history in Gotham City. It’s youngest members, siblings Theo and Tabitha, are back in Gotham on a mission of revenge. That’s what actors Jessica Lucas and James Frain revealed to during a set visit for Gotham season two in Brooklyn, NY. But, they may have have just revealed more than they meant to, they said with a smile halfway between sinister and sincere.

That feeling of unease seems to be how the characters, a pair with Gotham roots that go deep into the 19th Century, will approach their relationships in the city of darkness, villainy, and corruption that will eventually birth the Batman. Frain goes so far as to describe Theo Galavan as a character who “doesn’t have a sense of what it is to be a normal person."

During a scene that press watched on-set, the Galavans sit down for a private dinner in their home with the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) and fellow new cast member Silver St. Cloud (Natalie Lind). Silver, around Bruce’s age, is a ward of the Galavans (she calls them “aunt and uncle” but it’s unclear whether that’s an actual familial connection or not), and is Bruce's new friend. However, it seems it’s all part of the family plan of revenge. As Theo toasts to family, Tabitha (who is being billed as “the future Tigress”) sits down and wipes what appears to be blood off her cheek.

“I love that everyone is assuming that’s blood! I’ll let you keep drawing your own conclusions until you see the whole thing, though,” Lucas playfully teased during a break between takes.

After the toast, Silver expresses her fondness for Bruce, asking him to spend more time there. Tabitha says, “Look at how cute the kids are. Couldn’t you just eat them?” so, certain speculations may be justified!

We sat down with Frain and Lucas on the set to talk about the characters’ origins, entering an already packed and tight cast, and how they can’t say much about the future of their characters and storylines, because they literally just don’t know yet!

So, Jessica, James, this season is about the “rise of the villains.” As newcomers to the scene, are you trying to drive the fact that you’re newcomers on set into the characters at all, since they’re newcomers in Gotham as well?

Jessica Lucas: No, because I don’t think our characters feel like newcomers, right? They’re not newbies as characters…

James Frain: We have a long history…

JL: …yeah, with the city.

JF: Yeah, which you’ll find out about later. But that’s in the writing! It’s a big deal coming into this world, because, we have a lot going on.

JL: We have a really rich history with the city. We’re on a revenge mission.

JF: Ah! She said it!

JL: We can say that. I think. It’s a tease!

JF: Did you ask? (laughs) Yeah, we have an agenda, and you’ll find out fairly early into our introduction about that.

What’s the give and take been between you two, as you’ve started to develop this brother-sister relationship for your characters?

JF: I think we decided pretty early on to make it as normal a sibling relationship as possible, because everything else in our world is totally crazy. Everything about these Gotham citizens is “performance.” It seems like when we’re together, it’s just pure brother and sister sibling interactions. We could be just a couple of ten year olds, in all honesty. Actually, it’s the most normal relationship I have in the whole story!

JL: Yeah, I think there’s a strong loyalty between them, but I think Tabitha is also annoyed by Theo a lot. She’s carrying out his bidding, so there’s a lot of eye rolling and annoyance; she finds him boring sometimes, things like that.

JF: Like I said, a normal sibling relationship!

Both: (laughs)

JF: Yeah, I’m the older brother, and we get on each other’s nerves that way.

You guys are already starting on episode six right now. What has surprised you so far about joining the Gotham family?

JF: Every time a new script comes in, I’m surprised. It’s always very rich, very original, and you can never predict what’s going to happen. You get a new script, and go, “Really? Oh my God!”

JL: The action stuff is really fun for me to read. Whenever I get a script where I get to do something really cool with a whip or… other things… I get really excited.

Being on this set is fun, because it’s a well-oiled machine. It was easy to come into, they were all very welcoming, and that makes it easy.

(Photo: Lucas Siegel) Theo Galavan (James Frain) contemplates his next move during a dinner with Bruce Wayne in Gotham Season 2 Episode 6, "By Fire"

Tell me about some of the early character interactions you’ve had, playing off these folks who have been established for a full season already.

JF: I’m just filing through my mind…

JL: Yeah, I don’t want to give too much away!

JF: It’s kinda what she said, that everyone has been super cool and not awkward at all. It’s a very high work ethic set and just very efficient…

Well, thanks to the scene you just shot, we know that you’re working directly with David (Bruce Wayne)

JL: Right, right. This is my first time working with David! He’s awesome, just incredible.

JF: He really is.

Coming into a show where it’s all about him eventually must be a weird thing for a kid!

JL: You wouldn’t be able to tell. He’s so calm, cool, and relaxed. I wasn’t that together at fourteen, I don’t think!

So who’s the more conniving one of the Galavan siblings?

JL: I would say Theo's the more conniving one, he’s the thoughts, the brain, the schemer, the planner – she’s the enforcer. She might have some tricks up her sleeve, though. We’ll see.

JF: It’s just more of a way of being. Our family is incredibly skilled, and manipulative, and agenda driven. I don’t feel like we really have a sense of what it is to be a normal person! I think that Theo Galavan playacts because he has to for different characters. It’s almost like he’s watched regular people, and then he imitates them, because he doesn’t know how to be that.

He’s pretty crazy, I think.

JL: Yeah, they’re both pretty crazy. (laughs)

JF: The whole thing is not a healthy scene.

Generally speaking, I don’t think the whole of Gotham City is a very healthy scene.

JF: That’s true! I know it’s called the “rise of the villains,” but I feel like this season is really the “rise of Bruce.” He now is starting to know who he is, and is coming into himself, and really painting a picture of a world that’s so corrupt that it needs him. It needs a hero. That need of a hero is what drives this season: who can become that? Who can fill that void? There are a lot of people competing for it.

You said the word “revenge,” is that the best general theme of your characters’ story arc here?

JF: It’s a pretty strong strand of it.

JL: Now I’m wondering if I gave too much away! (laughs)

JF: We feel like we have a right to be here.

JL: Whether that’s true or not! We feel wronged, and we want some redemption for our family. But they’re a little crazy, so who knows if they’re justified in that or not.

JF: In the last episode [episode 5 of the season], they started a flashback in the 19th century, and we start seeing their back-backstory. So we’ll see that, it’s interesting how they put that in. That’ll be cool.

We find out about the characters – they give them to us as we go.

JL: Yeah, that’s been surprising. Every episode, you read something about your character that you had no idea about, another thing to layer in.

JF: The scripts are really good, and I like that approach.

So you like the idea of getting your character piece by piece, rather than sitting down and learning all about your character ahead of time?

JL: It’s more challenging, I think. Less of something to map out. I like them both, but I find them really different. Knowing a whole arc when you do a movie as opposed to this, where you’re finding out as you go.

JF: I find more and more this is the way we work now, especially with the amount of secrecy you have to have. You work more on your feet; it’s more instinctive. To me it’s exciting, but sometimes it’s a little daunting!

Gotham Season 2 kicks off September 21, 2015 at 8pm on Fox.