'Pennyworth' EPs Explain How James Bond Influenced Young Alfred

After a successful, five-year run with Gotham, producers Danny Cannon and Bruno Heller are moving on to yet another Batman prequel series, this time taking on the origins of iconic butler Alfred Pennyworth. The new project, which will air on Epix, is set in London, England back in the '60s, telling the story of a young Alfred fresh out of the military, running spy missions with his new acquaintance Thomas Wayne. This is certainly a much different version of Alfred than we've seen in the past, and the titular character, played by Jack Bannon, was heavily influenced by a couple of other well-known English spies.

During an interview with Cannon and Heller at this year's TCA winter press tour, ComicBook.com learned that the fingerprints of James Bond and Harry Palmer are all over this new Alfred.

"I went back and watched Michael Caine's Harry Palmer movies, and the first couple of James Bond movies, because going back to that Cold War kind of story telling I liked going back into this period because all of our Berlin movies and Russian espionage movies, it was like the British version of westerns." Cannon explained. "Like there was a wild west quality to the Cold War. Because after the war was done, we knew that there was a nuclear bomb, and we were capable of terrible things, but the spying and the style in which it was done, and the dignity with which it was done, and the charm with which it was done I thought all reminded me of what Bruno had been talking about. So going back to those movies, and watching what was good about Michael Caine back there was he didn't hide his accent. And the fact that Harry Palmer was very unpopular, but he just got the job done. Because he called everything as it was. His feet were firmly placed in the ground, he'd look people in the eye and I really appreciated that, James Bond, same thing too."

Heller continued the point by saying that this take on Alfred, much like the one Sean Pertwee plays on Gotham, is very similar to both James Bond and Harry Palmer.

"And both of those guys, and Alfred are basically working class guys doing the job," Heller added. "It's like they're being told what to do by other people in effect, and they make their own moral path by finding a way to be caught up in this much larger world, unlike the sort of Western heroes who go their own way and have show downs in the street. These are people who answer to a boss and who are getting on a bus in the morning and going to work and coming home again and having to do things they don't really understand the full implications of what they're doing. That's sort of the essence of all of those espionage, spy movies, is that every time, you don't really know who you're serving, or whether you're doing the right thing or the wrong thing. And you have to be able to keep a moral core for yourself without being able to say 'Yes, I've saved the world,' or 'I've rescued 200 children on the bus that was about to fall into the river.' It's much more ambivalent than that."

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Pennyworth is set to air on Epix sometime in 2019.

Additional reporting by Scott Huver.