The last episode of Pennyworth saw Alfred attempting to make his escape from England, but that won't last long.
In "Marianne Faithful," the season finale, the country is a powder keg about to explode. With a little help from the Sykes sisters, the Raven Society has kidnapped the Queen in a bid for power. This can only mean trouble for the No-Name League and its agent Martha Kane, which means Thomas Wayne will soon find himself involved as well. As Alfred actor Jack Bannon assured us, the title character won't be far behind.
Speaking to CBR, Bannon went back to the very beginning. He recalled how he landed the role and what kind of research he did to prepare for the series. He also dropped a few major teases about the "explosive" finale, which he promises will be "shocking" and "frantic." He also revealed his favorite scene, which character he's most excited to see Alfred team up with and more.
CBR: I feel like a lot of actors who land roles in superhero TV don't necessarily know what they've been cast as until after the fact. Was that the case for you?
Bannon: No! Not at all. We knew from the very beginning, I think. I've auditioned for lots of stuff where there's a fake script, and it's a fake project and there's whisperings of what it might be. But this one, this one we were told from the outset, and I think they did something very clever, you know. Like anything else, it landed in my inbox, as an email from my agent, and they gave a breakdown, a summary of the plot and what it's going to be about, and I read it, and I thought, "Really? They're gonna make a show about a butler? Okay, fair enough. Let's see what they have to say."
But they very cleverly included the whole script for the pilot episode from the outset. So I was able to read that and it was from that, really, that I became very excited and kind of knew that they were on to something. So yeah, it was kind of daunting, with it being such an iconic character, but good to know from the outset, what we were going for, really.
What kind of research did you do for the role?
Well, the great thing -- or I don't know whether I should say a great thing -- but a thing that saved me a lot of time about this role is that it's before any of the comics. So we dipped into them a little bit, but we made a conscious decision to kind of put those to one side and stick just with the script as our Bible and move forward from there.
Of course, you know, Michael Caine played Alfred, as everybody knows. And he, personally, was probably my favorite. But also, he was the one who said, "I'll play a butler as long as he's ex-SAS." So he gave us that background to Alfred, which we explore in Pennyworth. So it would have felt a bit wrong if we were giving a nod to to anybody but Michael, and of course, he was obviously the archetypal, British film star of the 60s.
So, in terms of source material, Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, showrunner, writer and director, lead director, executive producer, respectively, gave me a list of films to watch, basically, and a lot of them were Michael Caine films. The Ipcress File and Get Carter and things like that. Rather than in the comics, we sort of looked in British history and mythology to find out where we wanted to pitch it. Which is interesting, because obviously, in the show itself, a lot of the villains kind of come from British mythology and history rather than comic book villains. So we were going for that authenticity and that quintessentially British feel, right from the up.
Did that make you feel like you had a bit more freedom in crafting the role?
Yeah, definitely. We were encouraged from a very early stage, to make it, you know, entirely new and entirely unique. And the great thing was that the context of Pennyworth -- the world in which it's set, in 1961 -- I think is one of the strongest things about the show. On page three of the pilot script, Bruno takes a whole page to describe this world. He has such strong ideas about that. That was very exciting. And that was a bit, really, that grabbed me, in the initial stages, so you have to feel freedom, but also, you know, a sense of responsibility to do it justice. But yeah, definitely given the tone of piece and the world of the piece, it's sort of different to everything else. So yeah.
Last week's episode seemed almost like a sendoff for Alfred, but we have a whole episode's worth of action ahead. How quickly will we see him get involved in this situation with the Queen?
Yeah, yeah! That was something that, when I read it, I was like, "Hang on! Oh, what? He's off? All right, maybe I'm not in episode 10. It'll be Pennyworth without Pennyworth! Fair enough." Though he comes back quite quick. In typical Alfred fashion, he has a very, very bright idea -- a light bulb moment -- about how he can possibly get out of this, which -- much to the despair of Bazza and some of the others -- he formulates plan that puts himself right back in the midst of everything very quickly.
Which character are you most excited for fans to see you interact with in the finale?
This is tricky. Him and Thomas come together again, which I think everyone always wants to see. Ben Aldritch, who plays him, is a fantastic actor and a great friend. We did further in the pilot back in October, November time, which really excited us. Then, we had a couple of months off over Christmas and we started filming in January. I don't think we saw each other for three months, four months, you know, because there's the odd scene. It's not a buddy-buddy, Starsky and Hutch kind of thing. So him and Thomas get back together and then put our heads together about how they might save England, as it were.
Can you tease your favorite moment or scene from the finale?
There's a very, very long scene, which is rare in TV, as I'm sure you know. It's about 10 pages long. Normally, you know, scenes are anywhere between half-a-page and maybe two-to-three pages. If you've got a three page, that's getting long. This one was 10 pages long. I think Bruno wrote it to test us. There's five people in it, and it's 10 pages long, and people come in and out. It is right at the start and it sets up the plan for what they're going to do. That was fantastic to film.
We shot it and we thought it was going to take all day, but we managed to split a little scene up as well. Danny Cannon, the director, is fantastic. We blocked everything. We ran it from start to finish. Normally in TV, you break things up. You shoot little bits and you re-shoot and then do it over and over. But this one, we ran it all together every time and the cameramen found very clever angles where they wouldn't see each other. It was just technically a fantastic bit of filmmaking, I think, from the creative team and from an action point of view. You know, it was like doing a play. It was fantastic. Once we were in it, there were five of us all bouncing off each other and that was one of my favorite days filming, actually.
Describe the finale in three words.
Explosive, would be one. Explosive, shocking and frantic.
Developed by former Gotham collaborators Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, Pennyworth stars Jack Bannon as Alfred Pennyworth, Ben Aldridge as Thomas Wayne, Jason Flemyng as Lord Harwood, Paloma Faith as Bet Sykes, Ryan Fletcher as Dave Boy, Hainsley Lloyd Bennett as Bazza and Jessica Ellerby as the Queen. The series airs Sundays at 9 pm ET/PT on EPIX.