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New Fox series 'Gotham' casts Jim Gordon, Penguin, Alfred, other roles

Fox’s new “Batman” prequel is one of the most intriguing new shows slated to premier to this fall, and today’s casting announcement is giving shape to the pilot episode.

Ben McKenzie will play Jim Gordon
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The show will center on a young Jim Gordon and his early days in the Gotham City police force and present the origins of classic Batman villains like the Riddler, Joker, Catwoman, and the Penguin. Over the weekend, Fox announced that Gordon will be played by “The O.C.” and “Southland” actor Ben McKenzie and today Entertainment Weekly is reporting that four other roles have been cast including The Penguin and Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth.

The Penguin, known to his parents as Oswald Cobblepot, will be played by the actor Robin Lord Taylor, who is perhaps best remembered for a recent appearance on “The Walking Dead” as a young survivor who encounters Rick and Carol. According to EW, his character has “the brains of a chess grandmaster and the morals of a jackal” and is “a low-level psychopath for gangster Fish Mooney who hides his sadistic lust for power behind an exquisitely polite demeanor.”

While that description of The Penguin sounds familiar to fans of the comic books, it sounds like “Gotham” will be reinventing the character of genteel Alfred as a military bad-a**. Described as, “A tough-as-nails ex-marine from East London,” Alfred will be played by Sean Pertwee, who has been in films like “Event Horizon” and “Equilibrium” and certainly looks like former member of the military.

Two other female characters round out today’s casting announcement. Erin Richards of “Open Grave” landed the role of Barbara Kean, “A sophisticated emergency room doctor” and the fiancée of James Gordon. “She stands by her future husband…which can be difficult in a world as corrupt as Gotham,” EW says. Finally, Zabryna Guevara will play Captain Essen, “Gordon’s boss at the GCPD Homicide Squad” who is described as being able to balance police work and politics “with a Machiavellian skill that’s as much corporate litigator as cop.”

From these character descriptions, it sounds like the show is going to explore the moral gray areas of McKenzie’s “Southland” while adding in dashes of Batman’s comic mythology. At a TCA event in January, Fox chairman Kevin Reilly said the show’s arc will follow “a young Bruce Wayne from a child (around 12) into the final episode of the series, when he will put on the cape.”

“It is an operatic soap that has a slightly larger-than-life quality,” Reilly said.