Gotham's Erin Richards Explores Dark, Scary Places in Barbara's Mind

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(Photo: Fox)

On the Monday November 9 episode of Gotham, "Tonight's the Night," it's Barbara Kean's show as she finally gets let off the proverbial (or is it literal?) leash by the Galavans, and sent after Jim Gordon. Her plot takes both a cerebral and physical turn, and to execute it, actress Erin Richards had to go to some pretty dark places.

"I tend to do quite a fair bit of meditation, so that I, as Erin, am very balanced, so that any decision I make to go into that crazy place comes from a very safe place in myself. I think sometimes that’s how people get a little lost in their characters," Richards told ComicBook.com in a phone interview. She made reference to Heath Ledger's now infamous losing of himself, and continued.

"But I think, sometimes, actors who go to those quite dark, scary places, find it hard to come back from them, because they lose themselves. So I make sure that I have myself very centered," she said.

If someone wants an unofficial soundtrack to Barbara Kean's mind, it's the soundtrack to the film Drive, which Richards said she often listens to while prepping for a scene. Richards sang and hummed a bit of "Nightcall," the first track on the album, and said she listens to it "because it's really dark."

Yoga had helped her, as well, finding a "low center of gravity" with use of the bottom two chakras, which helps her explain Barbara's state of being.

"The bottom one is like the grounded center, then the next one up is the more creative, more sexual chakra, so I tend to focus all my energy down into those, and be really low in my sense of self. I think that’s what Barbara’s like, she’s more animalistic than I am as a person, so that’s what I tend to do."

Of course, going to these places can be difficult no matter the preparation, and Richards said that the "safe environment" created by everyone from producers Bruno Heller, John Stephens, and Danny Cannon to the director of the episode, Jeffrey Hunt, helps her have fun with it.

"Jeff Hunt was great, giving me the space to explore different ideas, and made use of the time to find the different paths she took within this episode," Richards said. Her fellow actors and their stunt coordinator Norman Douglass help quite a bit with that, as well.

"Norm makes sure that we know what we're doing at all times," she said of the more physical scenes - of which there are plenty in the episode. She and her fellow actors, meanwhile "allow each other the freedom to express ourselves, with guns and knives or physically with our hands - everyone is really supportive and excited about being physical because of it."

While the bulk of her physical work tonight is with Ben McKenzie's Jim Gordon, she looks fondly on her first big physical moment, the fight scene with Morena Baccarin's Lee Thompkins at the end of season one, which really introduced her to the way stunts would be done on the show.

"When Morena and I did the fight at the end of the first season, I described it as like a dance; we were dancing with each other, because we were so careful with each other, within this whirlwind of madness. The end cut of the fight is mostly us, even though we had amazing stunt doubles, because we were able to be careful with each other but still display that madness. It’s amazing. I feel like everyone is just really trusting of each other and supportive of each other, so it’s fun to do the more physical stuff."

In the end, the physicality, the crazier moments, and the softer, more emotional moments are all parts of Barbara, and what Richards loves to explore.

"There are so many aspects of her that come through, which is why it's such a joy to do this episode."

Gotham airs Monday at 8pm on Fox. Check back tonight after the East Coast airing of the episode for some insight into the episode and what Richards was going through as Barbara had her big night.