Not all of Gotham City’s villainous residents harbor aspirations to rule the city. Some bad guys start off good and simply… snap.
Take Erin Richards‘ “Gotham” character, for example. Art gallery owner Barbara Kean came from a wealthy family and was engaged to up-and-coming GCPD detective Jim Gordon. However, after being abducted and brainwashed by the serial killer The Ogre, Barbara went off the deep end, murdering her parents and attempting to kill Leslie Thompkins, Jim’s current girlfriend. These days, Barbara remains locked up in Arkham Asylum, an environment that could make her more dangerous than ever.
Speaking with the press at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Richards offered her thoughts on Barbara’s character’s chance at redemption, and what she expects will happen during her stay in Arkham Asylum. She also weighs in on whether Barbara might one day become “Gotham’s” Harley Quinn, and what viewers can expect to see as her relationship with Jim shifts and changes throughout Season Two.
How can Barbara redeem herself after all the horrible things she’s done?
Erin Richards: Is that what you want to see? Do you want to see redemption? I want to see violence. More violence. She does not redeem herself. She just goes even more into the darkness. It’s not going to be an easy path, but it’s going to be a really fun one. She’s like a tiger that’s been let out of the cage. It’s been great to play.
What can you tease about her time with the Joker? We know that they are in Arkham Asylum together.
Or, is he the Joker? We’ll call him Jerome.
She starts Season Two with being taken into Arkham Asylum. She kind of swans in there with this fun little dress on, like she’s going to the spa. She has no concept of what’s happening — no, she does. She goes into Arkham and she meets all these characters, one of which is Jerome. These characters are going to shape her a little bit. They all shape the way Barbara develops in this series.
But, she’s also kind of at the reins. She’s so free and in touch with her real stuff now. Her skill is she knows everyone’s weakness. So when she meets someone, she’s just like, “Oh, yeah. I got you. I got you.” Then she can use that weakness, but she might not let that character know she knows that weakness. She will just play along with each individual person until she gets what she wants. She’s going to be really powerful, which is exciting.
Were you surprised at how dark they wanted to take Barbara? In the comics, that’s not there.
She’s basically just in the kitchen in the comics. What’s that film? She just opens the window. I was obviously so thrilled with the direction she’s going. It’s so exciting to play an emerging villain. In this series, we’re showing the dark and the light of Gotham. In every character, you’ll see their dark side and their light side and their battle with that. Hers is kind of prevalent.
Would you like Barbara to become an original Gotham villain?
That would be fun. Why not? I think these characters are so in-the-moment. We’re not looking ahead. I’m not thinking of who she might become. I secretly hope she would become the Joker. I’m having so much fun playing her right now.
How aware are you that viewers have speculated that Barbara could become Harley Quinn?
I have read that. I thought that would be really fun. She could be anything right now. She has so many options available to her. She could be her own villain. It would be fun, but I’d like to see how Margot Robbie is going to come out with that one. She’ll be great.
How will Barbara and Jim Gordon’s relationship change now that she’s an inmate?
Jim still has a bit of a weak spot for her. He’s still willing to try to help her. I think her actions are quite intense in what she does. I don’t know how that’s going to play out in the long run. They have something — there’s something really dark in Jim, so he’s going to see that in her. You know when two people get together and there’s something from their past that is similar in real life? You have that with someone. You sort of mesh with those people. That’s what is happening with those two. They might not be right for each other right now, but they are drawn to each other, like magnets.
A lot of people referred to your situation as Stockholm syndrome. From the beginning, there’s always been a little bit of that in Barbara. Is that the sense you got as well, that something has always been bubbling under the surface, waiting to come out?
Yeah, I think so. She definitely has so many dark layers and so much past that we wouldn’t really be able to show, because there’s so much going on all the time. We tried to show it with her relationship with [Renee] Montoya, and that development with Selina and Ivy, where she was really dark. I don’t know if you picked up on it, but she drank. I think all of that was under there.
And then, when The Ogre saw her and told her, “I see who you really are” — she had so many layers that were pretense, all the way from who she was with her parents to even who she was with Jim. They were never really her. She never really felt like she was in her own skin. Now, she’s the most “Barbara” she’s ever been. She’s, like, flowing out. She’s joyous in her darkness. That was always right at the center of her. Even in real life, we’re scared to tap into that darkness. It’s yin and yang. For every moment of joy, we have a real moment of sorrow. That’s the only way you know you are happy, is when you are really sad and have that comparison. Otherwise, you are just kind of psycho, I guess. A real psycho. Somebody who feels nothing. She’s in this really dark place, but that doesn’t mean she can’t go back to light someday.
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