LONDON (Reuters) – Jack Bannon and Ben Aldridge play comic book characters Alfred Pennyworth and Thomas Wayne in DC-origin series “Pennyworth”, but the actors say there are no capes or tights in sight in this show set years before superhero Batman fights crime on the streets of Gotham.
In his first title role, Bannon, known for “The Imitation Game” and “Fury”, portrays Pennyworth, a former soldier in his 20s, who sets up his own security company in 1960s London.
An encounter with billionaire Thomas Wayne, years before the arrival of his son Bruce – or Batman – sparks a long partnership.
In a joint interview with Reuters, Bannon and Aldridge talked about the show, which premieres in Britain on StarzPlay on Friday. Below are excerpts edited for clarity and length.
Q: This comes hot on the heels of “Joker”. Where does it fit in with all the superhero offerings of late and what do you say to those who say there are too many of them?
Aldridge: “What I like about DC is that they seem to be going on this really psychologically dark route with their latest films and with the ‘Joker’ and obviously with Robert Pattinson being cast as Batman … I think ‘Pennyworth’ does that as well. It’s got the edge and that kind of dark psychological drama to it. It’s not all like colorful and fancy and … capes and tights.”
Q: This is your first title role, how did it all happen?
Bannon: “It landed in my inbox and I read the premise and I thought ‘really they’re going to make a show about the butler? Right, okay, fine’. But then as soon as I read the script … I was completely hooked from the beginning.
(Writer and executive producer) Bruno Heller … wrote a full page description almost of the world in which ‘Pennyworth’ is set, this dark, twisted version of London. And from that moment I knew that it was something that I wanted to be a part of and then it was just a very long and arduous audition process that spanned many months.”
Q: They are such famous characters though not much is known about them. How did you make them your own?
Bannon: “I tried not to look too much at lists of other actors who’d play them or too many other incarnations. The great thing about our show is it takes place before any of the comics or anything like that so we’re sort of filling in the history so we can really go to town with it if you like.
Aldridge: “With … the characters … in the comic books, we know where they end up but we don’t know where they’ve come from …There’s a certain amount of pressure there but also there’s a lot of free rein and a lot of creative license.”
Reporting by Hanna Rantala; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Mike Collett-White