Gotham is a “Raymond Chandler noir detective story”

Donal Logue talks keeping Gotham grounded and being the DC universe tour guide

Gotham Gordon Bullock
Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue in as Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock in Gotham

With a plethora of incredible villains waiting to make their debut, you have to imagine that Gotham is a tough place to be a cop. For the actors taking on these iconic roles in the new seires, those are also some tough shoes to fill, so Donal Logue is happy that he’s the first actor to bring Detective Harvey Bullock to life on screen.

“Yes,” he laughs. “To me it was such a relief to not have to live under the shadow of the Burgess Meredith, Danny DeVito, Gary Oldman kind of weight. So yes, I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to have the scrutiny of some awesome person having done a great, iconic job with it before.”

Tough, boozy and with an unpredictable moral compass, Bullock is one of the characters who very much roots Gotham in its Detective Comics noir history. “I met with [creator Bruno Heller] and he explained him to me,” Logue remembers. “He kind of told me about the world of moral relativism that Bullock lived in and also that he has this responsibility to provide a bit of the comic energy to the show and so I liked it. It seemed like a challenge.”

When it came to bringing the noir, Logue couldn’t have been happier to oblige. “It’s something that we play with, we always talk about how there’s that kind of styled Howard Hawks thing or especially if you’re doing a detective show where there’s a lot of information that goes around,” Logue enthuses. “I always really like the noir, really stylised things, even early television like Dragnet, like Jack Webb, ‘at 3.44pm we went in,’ And I’m like ‘We should maybe borrow on that stylistically,’ it’s something to explore with this world. But I love that it’s just Raymond Chandler detective story in a way. And I was a big fan of all of that kind of noir-ish detective vibe, True Detective magazines, and so I think that’s definitely the kind of world we’re going for with this.”

Donal Logue as Detective Harvey Bullock in Gotham
Donal Logue as Detective Harvey Bullock in Gotham

While Logue has plenty of stake-out experience working on his much-loved and sadly short lived show Terriers, he’s joined in the squad car by Southland veteran Ben McKenzie, who takes on the role of Detective James Gordon.

“In a way it’s great to be grounded in a realistic cop life thing because obviously the world is so colourful and theatrical that it’s kind of important to have a little bit of grounding for the two tour guides to take you through it,” Logue tells us. “And Ben is a real stickler for that sometimes, like talking about different firing stances and I’ll be like ‘Oh, of course, Ben trained his ass off when he did Southland in proper techniques.’ I really respect that kind of stuff. It sounds odd but sometimes you’re doing those types of shows where someone’s like ‘Whatever, you know,’ It’s almost like they’re talking about going on vacation and what crap they wanna buy, it’s like, ‘Come on man, how about getting into this thing and being a little bit on board with procedure and technique?’ And of course it’s absurd, some of these crimes get pretty wild in the DC universe but at the same time like it’s our job.”

“I love having kids on shows because Cameron [Bicondova] who plays Selina and David [Mazouz] who plays Bruce, and I would actually say Robin Lord Taylor who plays the Penguin, he’s amazing, they are real actor actors. They’re so committed to the deep make believe that this world is based upon that it kind of reminds everyone, cast and crew alike, what we’re there for. You’re like ‘Yeah, we’re here to invest fully in this fictitious world that we’re trying to bring to life for people who love this stuff.’ I love being around that, I like being around people of that caliber and nature.”

Gotham begins on Channel 5 on 13th October at 9:00pm. Read about the comics that inspired the TV series with the 100 All-Time Greatest Comics Bookazine.