Best known to Batman fans as Mr. Freeze, “Gotham’s” take on the classic character introduces him as a brilliant scientist with a terminally ill wife, Nora. With no known cure, Fries’ only hope is to cryogenically preserve Nora in order to save her — even if it means experimenting on others as he attempts to perfect his method.
Ahead of the series’ mid-season premiere, CBR News spoke with Nathan Darrow about trading in his “House of Cards” Secret Service suit for a human-freezing cold gun on “Gotham.” We discussed Freeze’s origins, his obsession to save Nora, the origin and evolution of his signature weapon, and whether he considers Fries a tragic person or pure villain.
CBR News: There have been several versions of your character and his motivations over the decades. What is “Gotham’s” take on Mr. Freeze’s origin?
Nathan Darrow: The take on Victor Fries is, he’s a cryogenics engineer. He works for a subsidiary of Wayne Industries. His wife, who is the love of his life, is ill. In order to save her life, he is looking to freeze her body, so that she can stay frozen until a cure can be found, and then he can reanimate her. He is working towards that and, as it happens, he is experimenting on actual people.
What is the character like? And how does his wife’s predicament affect Fries?
I don’t know if it adds another dimension, but it’s a very human dynamic. The way I see the character, as he’s written in the show, is that it feels like she is really his contact to what is under the person. It feels like Victor is not so good interpersonally, but he does have a wife and with her, he has everything on the line.
A lot of what I might want to bring was really present in the writing. Even in the beginning when I first read the scenes, I felt a lot of it was there. What interested me was, physically or emotionally, it seemed to me like he was a little obsessive, maybe by nature. I was interested in bringing that out. There’s also a fair amount of dryness to him.
You made a short, but memorable, appearance at the end of the winter finale. How he is fully introduced in the upcoming episode?
When he first meets Jim Gordon, Freeze has crossed many lines. He’s on a do-or-die desperate mission. I don’t want to give away the circumstances, but there’s a lead up to his first run-in with Gordon.
One thing that’s not a secret about the character is his gun. What is his weapon capable of?
It is used, initially, to freeze an entire human body in a relatively short period of time. As the story moves along, we start to attract the attention of the law, and Victor modifies the gun to be a little more weaponized, if I could put it that way.
I got to see the first of my two episodes. Gotham brought me and some of the other villains down to Atlanta. We got to see the first episode on a big screen. I thought what our effects team did to make the actual freezing happen — I was extremely impressed by it.
Once Jim Gordon pieces things together, does he feel sympathetic towards Freeze?
I don’t know. I couldn’t answer that, but I hope so. You would have to ask Jim Gordon.
It’s not normal for a person to break bad because a loved one becomes sick. What turns him down that path? And at the end of the day, do you view Victor as a villain, or a tragic figure?
I can tell you there is an event that does change him dramatically.
Sometimes, playing him, it’s hard to say that he’s a villain. I guess “both” would be my answer.
“Gotham” returns Monday, Feb. 29 at 8 p.m. on Fox