'Gotham' Premiere: Jada Pinkett Smith Reveals Her Character's "Mother of Evil" Mashup

Gotham Donal Logue Jada Pinkett Smith Ben McKenzie H 2014
Evan Agostiniti/Invision/AP

Gotham Donal Logue Jada Pinkett Smith Ben McKenzie H 2014

In the Batman-prequel series, sadistic gangster boss Fish Mooney "has influenced some of the villains that we know already"

Fox's buzzy crime drama Gotham premiered at The New York Public Library on Monday night with vintage police cars, villains and a re-creation of an atmospheric bar in the mythical hometown of the DC Comics superhero Batman.

"It's a beautiful pilot, it's so special," said Dana Walden, chairman and CEO of the newly created Fox Television Group. "We saw the best actors — Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith — just line up for this and I said to myself, 'This is a dream project.' And it is. It's the centerpiece of our fall TV schedule. We are thrilled that this amazing cast is being celebrated the way we think they deserve to be."

The Batman-themed prequel series — which comes from creator, writer and executive producer Bruno Heller and was named most promising new show by the Television Critics Association — centers on a young James Gordon (McKenzie), the police official who becomes an eventual ally to the Caped Crusader. The show also explores the origins of Catwoman (Carmen Bicondova), Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) Riddler and The Joker, among others. The WBTV-produced drama also introduces a new character, Fish Mooney (Pinkett Smith), a sexy, sadistic gangster boss and nightclub owner.

"My character wants to have her chance at taking over Gotham — she works for the Falcone family which is one of the mob families that's running Gotham," said Pinkett Smith, clad in a short black Blumarine dress and sparkly Lorraine Schwartz earrings. "A lot of people say she is the mother of evil and has influenced some of the villains that we know already. When I prepared for the role, I did a mashup of [drug lord] Griselda Blanco and Norma Desmond. I took away Norma Desmond's dramatics — when Fish Mooney walks into a room, everything has a dramatic flair to it."

After the screening, guests headed two flights up to a room that was transformed into a re-creation of Fish Mooney's bar, complete with red velvet banquettes, moody lighting and a jazz trio with a Billie Holiday-influenced singer belting out jazz standards. Guests dined on sage roast beef, chili honey turkey, roasted cabbage and cauliflower and sipped cocktails such as the Gotham (whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters) and the No Redemption (tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice and thyme).

"This is such an iconic role; it's the role of a lifetime," said David Mazouz, who portrays a young Bruce Wayne in the series. "I live in Los Angeles, but I left school and my house and my dogs to come to New York for the show, and I don't regret anything. It's been the best experience ever."

Gotham premieres Monday, Sept. 22, at 9 p.m. on Fox.