Alfred is at your service thanks to Pennyworth's first Comic-Con International panel. Stars Jack Bannon, Ben Aldridge, and Paloma Faith and executive producers Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon stopped by the pop culture convention with a special look at the EPIX series.
In regard to the premiere, which aired at the convention, Heller said, "The response has been really good."
"It's all of our first time, and I walked around Wednesday, around the convention center and nobody had a clue," Bannon said. "And suddenly, at the Warner Bros. booth, a 30-foot me appeared and I stood next to me."
"Alfred's story came first. It's a character that everyone knows and loves that hasn't been explored at all," Heller explained.
"On the other hand, everyone knows what happens in the end, so it's telling an origin story with a great deal of freedom," he added. "It's both within the Batman world but more relatable, I think."
"We were trying to give this a different feel... We've never seen a DC period show before... The way we approached everything, the clothes, the music... we could twist that look quite a bit," Cannon teased.
"You can be a darker, more edgy kind of show," Heller added.
"This could be a show about a kid who left the army and has all this kind of optimism," Cannon said. "You're heading towards a destiny that is special. It's just a nice thing to build up. Otherwise, it wouldn't work as a standalone drama."
"It was great. The minute I read Bruno's script, I knew this was a story worth telling and one I wanted to be a part of," Bannon shared. "I had to go out and buy a suit, because I didn't have a suit... I had to get a hair cut, I had to get a tie."
"I related to the notion of wanting to be better and go out and achieve things... that ambition and optimism and drive he has is very appealing to me," he shared.
"We explore that SAS background in this serious, and if anything, there's that nod to [Michael Caine]," he revealed. He explained that, technically, Caine is following his example, since the story is a prequel.
"Well, first of all, it was the writing, but also I think when you look back at comic book history and see how women have been betrayed... everything has been contained to their sexuality and I felt the writing was honorable and it added layers," Faith shared. "We are multidimensional human beings also... She's quick-witted, she has desired for compassion and understanding, and is also struggling with her own demons... this kind of idea if you're born into a class system, you stay in that class... She is a working class character."
"She brought unapologetic oomph to it," Heller said of Faith. "She is a little bit larger than life."
"What's really important as an actress is that life -- our villains in life -- are black and white. Nobody is just horrible for horrible's sake," Faith shared. "I learned to love her. I learned to related to her feelings of frustration... that she's underappreciated... I relate to it, I just don't stab people to death... I just do the British thing of suppressing it... To make people engaged, you have to give people something to relate to."
"The relationship between Bet and Peggy... is really intrinsic metaphor for working class culture. Family is really important," Faith teased. "It doesn't matter if you like them. They have to stand by each other... It is kind of an insight into British culture."
"Just because guns aren't in England doesn't mean people don't do bad things," she added.
"The villain of the piece is very much the class system," Cannon explained. He compared it to Charles Dickens' England, as it hasn't moved on since World War II.
"One of the things about civil wars is they cross over lines of family, friends fall apart," Cannon said. "What we'll see as the show goes on is good and evil can both be fond on either side of the conflict."
Cannon and Heller compared Thomas Wayne to Cary Grant in Aldridge's audition. "It's fun to be part of the DNA to make up Batman," Aldridge said. "It spoke about him being very extacting... and very intelligent... As he gets to know Martha Kane, there's some great moments that plat out in the cutting room as in the page... When these two people meet each other... they are the complete opposite of each other."
Asked about Thomas' soon-to-be-wife Martha, Heller said she would show up "Soon... She's a major character and should really be up here on the stage." He explained that she was busy and unable to make it. "We meet her very soon, and there's two parts of Batman." Thomas Wayne represents the righteous detective part of Bruce, while "she represents the more fearless, 'screw it, we're going to do this' side of the character."
"[Alfred and Bet] both relate to the sort of idea [of classicism] that they wish or aspire to discard all of that and become the boss. There are times in the show where they end up fighting for the same cause, and they're both quite surprised by it," Faith teased.
"They're both in love with the same woman at some point," Heller revealed.
"It's a serialized story," he confirmed. "We're telling one single story, so it's a binge-watching experience, but it means they can tell a big, epic story... and has a really satisfying conclusion. It's not a standalone, in the sense that every episode is a case of the week."
"My favorite bit of all of it was the violence. I've been suppressing it for my entire life," Faith said with a laugh.
"Now is the time for the DC world... it can be expanded in all sorts of new directions, and this is very much a new direction for it," Heller shared.
"We get to learn why he gets to be such a good mentor," Bannon said.
A fan asked if Faith will contribute any music, only for Heller to reply, "Yes, you do."
"I was still waiting to find out, because I did submit something. Not a huge amount, but I did want to try, so I sent a few versions of something," she confirmed. This will appear in episode 9.
"One of the things about the show that we were talking about was let's be in the DC world without having to top yourself more and more with special effects and crazy plotlines," Heller shared. "It's much more of a family drama than that kind of thing."
"If you like TV programs about famous serial killers, some of them make an appearance in this world," Faith teased.
"We could draw upon the mythology of England too, from Dracula... to Jack the Ripper. England has a history of great villains," Cannon added.
"There's an appearance from the Ripper family," Faith pitched in.
"I did get to write an episode where an old war buddy of Alfred comes to the house [in Gotham], and Alfred very politely tries to get rid of him, because he knows when his friend gets a few drinks in him, he talks about the war," Cannon said. "If you think you know Alfred, you don't... He knows what stories to bring up and not what to... He protected [Bruce] from all the darkness."
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 debuts July 28 at 9 pm ET/PT on EPIX.