'Gotham' Actor Breaks Down Flamingo's Introduction: "There's No Fear Inside Him"

"There's a certain eroticism in his craft, which just so happens to be killing," Raul Castillo tells THR of the city's newest villain.
Courtesy of FOX

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Monday's episode of Gotham, "A Bitter Pill to Swallow"]

When Gotham needs to push Jim Gordon to the brink, it calls in the professionals. Still recovering from the season's "rise of the villains" and last week's confrontation with his ex-fiancee, Jim's spirit almost broke this week when he had to deal with the attentions of Eduardo Flamingo, perhaps the city's deadliest hitman.

Based on a comic book character who debuted in 2007's Batman No. 666, Flamingo is not only known for his killer ways, but also his predilection for turning his victims into snacks. Played by Raul Castillo, the character marks a big departure from the actor's last role, on the HBO series Looking. THR spoke to Castillo about playing Gotham's newest troublemaker.

Even in a season that's had Jerome and Barbara being over-the-top in their own ways, Eduardo Flamingo still comes across as a wonderfully flamboyant bad guy. I really don't think Jim Gordon was expecting to come face-to-face with someone like him.

To me, it's appropriate that [the producers] chose now to introduce Eduardo to the world. The character of Gordon has been pushed to an extreme so far, and now the writers are bringing in the big guns — Eduardo's this fantastic character who can take everything Gordon's going through so far to the next level.

He really ends up pushing Jim's buttons.

(Laughs.) Yes, he does.

Jim ends up going to this very intense place when he has the showdown with Eduardo. What was that like to shoot? Were you and Ben McKenzie squaring off between takes?

Ben is such a gentleman — we're both Texas boys, so we kind of connected through that almost immediately — but when it came to our confrontation, we were grounded through this great fight choreography.

We got to play with this great fight that they had. It's like a dance or a ballet, it's its own kind of movement. We really worked together to find out what the conflict between these two men really was — the way that Eduardo can talk to Gordon, push his buttons and play with him. I tried my best to help that seem believable. Ben's a great scene partner, I had a really good time working with him.

He seems like the type of character that's maybe not fun to play, per se, but he's certainly fun to watch.

His theatricality and flamboyance were a lot of fun to play with. I read for the role and was starting to put the character together — luckily, we have Google these days, so I was able to find out a lot, as well as read the comic books. It was really, really exciting to tap into that darker side of things. I haven't had a chance to play a character like this before. Because it's the first time that we're seeing this character represented in any medium outside of the comics, as far as I know, I had this great blank canvas to work with, and all these different elements to bring in.

In some ways, he feels like the next generation of what the show's been doing in terms of villains all year. He's got the theatricality of Jerome, but he's even more dangerous. Jerome was insane, but Eduardo knows exactly what he's doing.

Absolutely. He's vicious and there's no fear inside him.

He seems to really enjoy what he does, as well. Beyond the whole "eating people" thing, I mean.

I think there's a certain sensuality to the way he approaches killing that I latched onto. There's a certain eroticism in his craft, which just so happens to be killing. He finds great pleasure in that, and I found that really fun to explore.

We keep on coming back to this being fun, despite Eduardo being this terrible villain, a cannibal hitman…

There's so much about working on Gotham that felt like being a kid, and playing in a way that I hadn't been able to since I was young. As a kid — I think we all do this, we all played cops and robbers, heroes and villains, and Gotham had the same fun as that, for me. Of course, there's a darker element now in this character, but I was able to find a lot of joy in playing the character. It's so much fun, and very liberating.

So, should we expect to see more from Eduardo in future episodes?

I don't know, but I really, really hope so! (Laughs.) I want to explore more of who this character is. He's so fascinating to me and we just scratched the surface. I want to know more about his background — he has this really interesting history [in the comic books] that I'd be curious to see how the creative team at Gotham would 'Gotham-ize' it — what made him such a ruthless character. There's so much more to play with! I'd be over the moon to be given the opportunity to do more with him.

Does Gotham need more Flamingo in its future? Leave your comments below. Gotham airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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