7:00am PT by Graeme McMillan
'Gotham' Star: Edward Faces a "Mega Crisis" as Riddler Evolution Nears
For all of Gotham's first season to date, Edward Nygma hasn't shown any signs of being the super villain that the city will one day know him as — but Cory Michael Smith says that's all about to change.
"We take a very sharp turn in the evolution of the Riddler, which is very exciting," the actor behind the eventual Riddler tells The Hollywood Reporter of Monday's hour, noting that Kristin Kringle (Chelsea Spack) is at the heart of his change. "She's in a dangerous situation, and Edward decides to man up and try to protect her."
Pushing that evolution is the apparent abuse Kristin is taking from Officer Dougherty — as seen in the exclusive clip below.
"He finds that a little overwhelming, and his response creates a mega crisis in his life," Smith says. "It'll be quite tragic seeing someone who is well-intentioned fall into this villainous role."
The chance to show the normally mild-mannered Nygma fall apart is something that Smith is relishing.
"It's been fun for me because people will suddenly see a very different man," he says. "Circumstances are such that he can't just go through life trying to be the good guy, and trying to put his best foot forward and try to give information and flirt with the girl. He just can't do that anymore, and all of a sudden, he becomes far more complex and far more dynamic. Suddenly, there are secrets he has to deal with, and his life gets more complicated. I've gotten so excited as I've been reading the scripts."
The storyline, which continues through the end of the season, gives audiences a chance to see a different Nygma in more ways than one. For one thing, they'll finally get to see him outside of the police department.
"We get to spend some time with him alone, which hasn't happened yet," Smith teased. "I have this habit that I've created for him when he's around other people, where he has this terse mouth and forced smile, this facial tension because there's so much effort. He's always trying, and so for the first time, I get to let that drop when the door closes. I hope that people are a bit terrified of him in this more neutral, quasi-animalistic state."
Smith said that he's well aware that fans have grown attached to the Edward that's appeared in the show so far, but he believes that this is a change that had to happen.
"He does what he has to do," he argues. "He doesn't become a villain yet. He doesn't choose to do evil yet. But he's certainly, for the first time, asking questions and it's going to create his own war inside him. You'll see, especially in the finale, this war between the factions in Gotham, and Eddie is experiencing that internally himself. As he tries to solve that, we all know where it leads, but I believe it's something he does just to gain power and respect. He has to find that. He has to find a place where he feels secure."
While Smith is keeping mum about exactly what Nygma does to create his internal struggle, he teases that "if he gets away with it," that might cause its own problems for the character.
"If he does, then that's his first major victory in life, something that validates his intelligence and his brilliance," he says. "That feeling is quite contagious and invigorating, so there's the possibility that he might want to try to feel it again."
Looking ahead to where Nygma could end up in the show's second season, Smith said that he'd be excited if his character gets the kind of focus that Robin Lord Taylor's Oswald received in the first year, but added that "the way that we end the season, and especially in the finale, it shows a truly, truly wealth of possibilities."
What kind of possibilities? "The final images of Edward in the finale are going to be quite jarring, quite terrifying," Smith promises. "They'll leave people open to expecting anything from him."
Gotham airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox. What are you looking forward to seeing?