10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Fox's Batman Prequel 'Gotham' Casts Penguin, Alfred
Just days after tapping Ben McKenzie (Southland) as Jim Gordon, Fox's Batman prequel is filling out its key players, casting regulars including Alfred, notable villain The Penguin and a love interest for the commissioner-to-be.
Robin Lord Taylor, Zabryna Guevara, Sean Pertwee and Erin Richards have been tapped to join the network's Gotham, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Gotham is described as an origin tale centering on DC Comics fixture Commissioner James Gordon and the villains that made Gotham famous.
Taylor (The Walking Dead, Another Earth) will play Oswald Cobblepot -- aka The Penguin. The character, described as having the brains of a chess grandmaster and the morals of a jackal, is a low-level psychopath for gangster Fish Mooney who hides his sadistic lust for power behind an exquisitely polite demeanor. Taylor becomes the latest actor to play Penguin, joining Danny DeVito (Batman Returns) and Burgess Meredith (the 1960s Batman series).
Guevara (Burn Notice) will portray Captain Essen, rookie Gordon's boss at the Gotham City Police Department's homicide unit, who balances the two worlds of police and politics with a Machiavellian skill that is as much corporate litigator as cop.
Pertwee (Elementary, Camelot) is set as Alfred Pennyworth, the iconic butler from the Batman franchise. In Gotham, the character is a tough-as-nails ex-Marine from East London who has loyally served Thomas and Martha Wayne for years. Now, in the wake of their tragic deaths, he is fiercely protective of their young son, Bruce. (The part of the eventual Caped Crusader has yet to be cast.) Others who have played Alfred include Alan Napier (the 1960s Batman); Michael Gough (in the Tim Burton Batman features); and Michael Caine, who most recently co-starred in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight franchise.
Richards (Breaking In, Being Human) has been cast as Barbara Kean, a sophisticated ER doctor who is engaged to marry Gordon. Joyful but with an edge of vulnerability, she stands by her future husband -- which can be difficult in a world as corrupt as Gotham.
STORY: Fox's Batman Prequel 'Gotham' Taps 'Southland's' Ben McKenzie as Gordon
The Warner Bros. Television drama pilot, which has a series commitment attached, is being written and executive produced by The Mentalist showrunner Bruno Heller. Danny Cannon (CSI, Nikita) will direct and executive produce the pilot.
Speaking to reporters last month at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said the series will explore other characters from DC's massive Batman cannon.
"This is not one of the things where you bought a franchise and then none of characters people know," Reilly said. "We will follow Bruce Wayne right up until the point where he gets interesting."
Reilly confirmed that Gotham will be as much of an origin story for Batman as for Gordon. "It's Gotham teetering on the edge," he said. "This is all of the classic Batman characters."
The Joker, Riddler and Catwoman are also expected to be part of the project, with the plan being for the series to ultimately end with Bruce Wayne putting on the cape and becoming Batman -- much as Smallville did with Clark Kent/Superman.
Following the session, Reilly told reporters that the series will be very serialized and not an "adjunct companion" show. "This is the Batman franchise just backing it up," he said. "It gives a real focus as to what this show is about and what stories we're telling."
Taylor is repped by Abrams Artists Agency; Guevara is with the Kohner Agency and JWS; Pertwee is with the U.K.'s Hamilton Hodell and NB; and Richards is with WME, Magnolia and the U.K.'s Curtis Brown.