6:00pm PT by Graeme McMillan
'Gotham' Finale: Jada Pinkett Smith on Fish Mooney's Deep Dive
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the first-season finale of Fox's Gotham.]
Fish Mooney's (Jada Pinkett Smith) fate was revealed during Monday's Gotham season finale.
After making a bold (and almost successful) play to take over the city's criminal element, the villain — somewhat ironically — ultimately swam with the fishes when Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) threw her into the river to crown himself the king of Gotham's crime scene in the climactic scene of "All Happy Families Are Alike." For Smith, it was a surprising end for her colorful character.
"I had no idea what was in store for little Fish but it sure has been a wild ride," the actress, whose one-year Gotham deal has run its course, told THR.
The finale of the show's first season saw the character return to Gotham after weeks of captivity on the Eastern European island owned by the Dollmaker, but her enforced exile had only increased her hunger for power. Taking advantage of the crime war instituted by Cobblepot, she attempted to place herself at the head of the city's criminal families, only for her maternal instinct toward Butch (Drew Powell) to lead to her undoing. As Falcone (John Doman) chose to abandon the city for his own safety, robbing her of her revenge for being forced to leave Gotham, she was seemingly killed by Cobblepot.
Fish's return to the city brought out both sides of the character's personality — something that Pinkett Smith believes demonstrates the distance between what she considers to be the real woman and the persona she wanted the world to see.
"There was a real woman in there that had experiences that resulted in her creating this character," she explains. Alongside the idea of what might be called "good," for Fish — who, she says, "gravitated toward old Hollywood actresses, which represented for her what an elegant, intelligent woman looked like and sounded like" — there was also a side of her that killed Maroni (David Zayas) for calling her "babe."
"She has this very hard-core gangster side of her personality that she really took on and learned in order to survive the upbringing she had and the events that happened in her life," Pinkett Smith says. "She just made herself a weapon, through her sexuality and her ability to commit physical violence. This Fish Mooney persona that she has with her theatrics and clothes, the way she speaks, to keep people on her toes."
The actress, who said that she initially took the role for the chance to work with showrunner Bruno Heller and indulge her personal Batman fandom, found that playing Fish had an unexpected upside on a personal level.
"Fish Mooney really inspired me to want to act again," she admits. "For a minute there, I really didn't know. I wasn't inspired by the roles that were available for women in general, and then Fish Mooney came along."
It wasn't just the opportunity to create a complex femme fatale that re-energized her; it also was the chance to return to television. "I think, definitely for actresses, there are so many varied roles for women on television," she says. "I think that TV is definitely being dominated by women in the most beautiful way. TV right now is the most exciting platform for women, to be honest with you."
Asked if this means we could expect more of her on TV, she says she's "been spoiled because of Fish Mooney, so it'd really be down to finding a character who makes me want to go to work everyday, but I'd absolutely do more television. I love the pace of television. TV is so different from movies because of the pace. I think that people who survive doing TV can survive anything."
As to the future of Fish Mooney, Pinkett Smith says that she'd "absolutely" be interested in returning to the character if Fish ever appeared in a Batman movie, though she confessed that she has a different DC character in mind when it comes to dream roles.
"I know Will is doing Suicide Squad," she says, referring to husband Will Smith's role in David Ayer's 2016 movie. "I was so excited when I heard that he was playing Deadshot, he's always been one of my favorite characters, but Vixen was definitely one of my favorite characters in the Suicide Squad comic." (Vixen is currently in development for an animated spinoff from The CW's Arrow. Perhaps a voice role could be in order?)
When it comes to a possible return to Gotham, Pinkett Smith is a little more coy. She originally signed on for a year, but now says, "I don't think any of us had any idea that Fish Mooney would take on the life she took on." Does that mean that Fish might have survived her fall into the water? Heller has said that he's hoping the character can return in the future, but when asked whether it could happen, Pinkett Smith laughs and says, "You never know. We'll see what happens."