INTERVIEW: Gotham's Jerome Discusses Getting the Last Laugh


The joke is on Gotham City.

In "Gotham’s" first season, Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) was locked up in Arkham Asylum for killing his mother. Crime lord disguised as public servant/wealthy philanthropist Theo Galavan later staged a prison break, and Jerome was one of six inmates who escaped. Theo ultimately betrayed and killed Jerome, but the smiling lunatic is now having the last laugh. Thanks to the resurrection powers of Doctor Hugo Strange’s technology, Jerome is back, and poised to terrorize the city once again.

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Ahead of tonight’s episode, the final Monaghan spoke with CBR News about Jerome’s resurrection, throwing Gotham City into chaos, why he’s targeted Bruce, and mastering all Jerome’s mannerisms.

CBR: In Season 2, it appeared that Jerome had been knocked off for good. How surprised were you to get the call about this arc?

Cameron Monaghan: I knew there was a possibility of me returning. We had talked about it back at the end of my arc in the second season, but I didn’t know exactly how I’d be returning. I was very excited when I got the call that they were going to go ahead with the story and bring me back. It was all about getting to the nitty-gritty and the best way to do it. I started forming ideas on what I wanted to do.

How does this resurrected Jerome 2.0 compare to the previous incarnation?

A lot of his ideals are still there. He has this ideology of wanting chaos and raising violence and freeing yourself from the constraints of civility or order. That was pretty well established in the second season, where he delivered that great monologue in the police station. We already had the fundamentals of the character in his ideology.

With that being said, he’s coming back from the dead this time around. He feels more mature and darker and more twisted with a more distinct, calmer approach to what he is doing. He has greater aspirations on a larger scale. He’s become an escalated version of what we introduced in the second season. He’s really come into his own now. The whole city and world is a lot worse off for it.

What makes Jerome such a deadly adversary?

There’s a lot that makes him deadly. First, and foremost, is the lack of fear. If you have a lack of fear and a lack of self-preservation, you are able to do pretty terrible things. He’s also extremely intelligent. We started to establish it in the second season ,and we really get to see him stretch his legs in that category. He’s always one step ahead of everyone else in the room. He’s extremely perceptive. He’s able to dissect the psychology of people around him. He’s able to push people really well and effectively.

He’s also very clever. He’s a trickster, so he always has something up his sleeve. We saw that a couple of times in 3.14. We see the sleight of hand of the character and how he is able to misdirect. He’s a deadly showman. The last thing that makes him such a deadly adversary is because he is a showman, he’s able to inspire. By inspiring, he has a personal army that he’s amassed. It brings a level of chaos to the city that’s never been established before on this show.

For Jerome’s first appearance, you practiced that maniacal laugh in front of a mirror. How did you go about nailing his voice and movements for this arc, or was it like riding a bicycle?

It’s different every time. Before we filmed the second season, I wanted the character to feel extremely comfortable in his body, in how he presents himself, and how he moves. I wanted him to feel light on his feet. I danced. I would take dance class, a couple of hours a day, every single day, wherever I had an opportunity.

This time, I wanted him to have that same lightness on his feet and athleticism, but I wanted him to be comfortable in confrontation and mentally jousting with the other characters So, I boxed. I would spar with people. Not only did that help because I wanted to lose as much weight as I could so that I physically looked lankier and had more pronounced features facially, but. it also helped that fighters have very quick eyes. I can’t even describe it, but there’s a certain quality to quickly breaking apart a circumstance. Boxers are able to perceive what other people are doing very quickly in a way that is reminiscent of Jerome.

I tried to find body and movement. The challenge this time around is, I had prosthetics for a lot of it. I couldn’t see properly. I was literally blinded by bandages and blocked by makeup, so I wanted to pay a lot of attention in my performance to voice and body. I recorded my voice a lot in speaking, just trying to figure out what I wanted to do with him and what I wanted him to sound like. Also, I would tape myself performing the scenes in a ski mask, so that you couldn’t see my face and I was purely body. I just did stuff that made sense for the character and the performance.

In “Mad City: Smile Like You Mean It,” Jerome plunged the city into darkness and encouraged the citizens to go crazy. What’s his endgame?

I don’t know if Jerome needs an endgame. What’s great about him is how he lives in the moment in such a strange way. His version of fun comes from this misery and destruction that he brings around him. He’s able to do it on a larger and larger stage each time. Right now, what’s propelling him is his desire to do that. As the story goes on, he’s going to need to gain a more distinct focus with his targets. He’s kind of found that now in Bruce. He had that a bit with Gordon, and he might continue to down the road. He really sees Bruce as an adversary he loves torturing and trying to corrupt. Ultimately, he’s trying to corrupt everyone. His goal is to bring out that level of violence he feels within himself.

What can viewers expect from the confrontation between Jerome and Bruce?

We see the formation of ideology within Bruce that is spurred on by the level of destruction and murdering that Jerome is creating around him. We plant the seeds of what has always been my favorite interaction between the Joker and Batman, and that we have in Jerome and Bruce, which is these dark reflections of each other. They are constantly pushing each other to escalate. Jerome sees so much of himself in Bruce. He also sees inherent goodness in Bruce. He hates that. He despises it and wants to twist it. So, we have the sense of that playing out within this episode. I got goosebumps. I got chills. This was my favorite thing about that interaction, about that dynamic.

What else can you tease about what kind of mark Jerome will leave on Gotham?

We have a climax that is on a scale that I’m not sure has ever been on the show before. It’s extremely ambitious. It’s a gamble. Fingers crossed they pull it off. It’s a really exciting moment for the show. The fact I had the opportunity to be part of it is special. I can’t wait for people to see it.

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