Pennyworth's Martha Kane Promises More Darkness, Unexpected Relationships

Martha Kane is about to get some unique insight into the Wayne family. In "Cilla Black," the next episode of Pennyworth, Thomas will approach Martha with a strange request: to babysit his drug-addled sister Patricia. This sends the No-Name League operative on her own journey, leading her to meet famed magician Aleister Crowley.

Speaking to CBR, Martha actor Emma Paetz revealed how her character's time with Patricia will change the way she views Thomas. She recalled how she landed the role and explained why she had to throw all her research out the window. She also teased which characteristics Martha passes on to her son Bruce, whether or not the show will introduce her family and more.

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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?

Paetz: No, no, it was clear throughout the whole audition process that it was for Martha Kane, who would eventually become Martha Wayne, the eventual mother of Bruce Wayne.

Were you familiar with Gotham before you auditioned?

I had heard about Gotham, but actually I knew Bruno Heller's work really well from his work on the series Rome he did. I was obsessed with that series when it came out, so I knew Bruno from that.

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Did they reach out to you, or did you go through an audition process?

Oh, yeah! All of the joys of auditioning, with a self-tape and then going in a couple times. And then I had to do a chemistry test with Jack Bannon, who plays Alfred, and that was the final thing.

So with Jack Bannon, but not Ben Aldridge, who plays Thomas Wayne?

No. Which is interesting, isn't it?

What kind of research did you do to prepare for the role?

Yeah, usually I do kind of research in preparing for roles. So I was gearing up to do that, and then, pretty much as soon as I started looking at the different universes that Martha appears in, it became very clear to me that her story is drastically different, depending on which universe it's in and also that is drastically different from the script that Bruno has written. So I sort of decided to save myself a lot of insanity. I would go off of the script, because otherwise I just thought it was going to get too confusing trying to juggle and justify all these different threads that her character goes down.

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Do you feel that gave you a sort of creative freedom to craft to this character as you saw fit?

Yeah, well, I sort of feel like the freedom in that maybe comes a bit more from the fact that, like, her being a young woman, pre-Thomas Wayne is quite unique and the scripts that Bruno's written, it feels like he's taken a lot of beloved characters, but in a situation that people have never seen them before. So we did feel liberated in that way, because the context is completely different.

How did that impact you as an actor?

Well, I think that Bruno has, in his script, he has a lot of three-dimensional, multifaceted, complex, even messy, raw, female characters. That's actually depressingly rare in a script. So, you know, Martha came, the way she was written was no different, and it just felt really satisfying. There was so much potential in any scene with her, because she's not limited in any way by her gender. He gives her a really complex, emotional spectrum to have. She is an ideal idealist and she gets to do all of these things and be all of these things that you don't often see in female characters. I also like that, even though her and Thomas Wayne and Alfred are all beloved DC characters, Bruno wasn't afraid to make them kind of vulnerable and messy and not always right. He wasn't righteous or precious in the writing of them at all.

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Pennyworth is interesting, in that it works backwards, taking what we already know from the Batman mythology and building from there. What elements of Batman do you see in Martha Kane?

Well, I think that she's got a darkness to her that I definitely think Bruce has in him. She's got a very sort of courageous heart that he has. She's impulsive. She can be brash, she's very clever, but she can sort of jump before thinking, which I think is something that Bruce Wayne ends up doing and then actually Alfred Pennyworth sometimes ends up being the voice of reason to him as a mentor.

How does Martha's relationship with Thomas evolve moving forward?

They end up working together more and more for the No-Name League. So they sort of get put together more and more. Their relationship does evolve and change, but I think not necessarily in the way that people will expect.

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In this week's episode, you work a lot more closely with Salóme Gunnarsdóttir. How would you describe Martha's dynamic with Patricia?

I think Martha is immediately much warmer to Patricia than she is to Thomas. Well, first of all, she's overwhelmed by the situation she finds herself in, which is babysitting Thomas's sister. But I think she warms to Patricia quicker than Thomas because Patricia is so the opposite of Thomas. I think that Martha has this kind of casual disdain for Thomas, and the fact that she sees Patricia getting under Thomas's skin means that Martha sees a comrade in that. I mean, she's very impulsive, and she does have sort of a more wild side to her that Patricia definitely has. So I think she's intrigued by that with her.

What insight does Patricia provide Martha on Thomas and the Wayne family?

Well, I think it sort of confirms her judgment of Thomas as just a sort of, I don't know, like a stick-up-his-ass rich boy who, and I don't think it's surprising at all to her that she finds out that he has, you know, really young, bright young thing girlfriends. And I think that she finds it quite funny that Patricia divulges these sorts of things to her, but I don't think she finds much out about Thomas that she's surprised by. And I think she sort of, you know, rolls her eyes at what a cliche Thomas seems to be.

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As I'm sure you know, Martha has a rather interesting family outside of the Waynes. What are the odds we'll see more of her relatives, like a brother or a certain niece?

I don't know! This is all in Bruno's head. I think he has talked about, you know -- I don't know. He hasn't said anything about bringing in any of Martha's family, but he has definitely, definitely made references to fleshing out on-screen more of why she came to London and how she got there, and how her family ties into that. So I'm in the dark just as much as you in terms of what we're gonna see.

So we're not going to see any more about that this season?

Not this season, but hopefully future ones.

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.

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