When last we left Gotham, the show had wrapped its midseason finale by taking a surprising turn. Jim Gordon was demoted and assigned to Arkham Asylum on security guard detail after his undertaking with Harvey Dent ended disastrously. As a twist it’s promising, offering fans a chance to see the inside of Arkham on the show for the first time while providing an intriguing change in the show’s point of view. In the process, it will also introduce a familiar character with the potential to make a profound, lifelong impact on the show and its characters—Dr. Leslie Thompkins.
Gotham’s Dr. Thompkins is a young physician working at Arkham Asylum in whom the erstwhile Detective Gordon finds a kindred spirit… and possibly a lot more. To learn what we can expect from this new take on the beloved character, we spoke with the actress bringing her to life, Morena Baccarin . So, is the good doctor good enough to save a city as sick as Gotham?
When you look at the characters of Dr. Leslie Thompkins in the comics, she’s really done a lot with her life. With regard to that, where is she when we meet her on the show?
We meet her at Arkham Asylum, which is where she meets Jim Gordon for the first time. She’s working as a physician there.
I’m not sure how close to the original mythology we’re going to be on the show. Bruno told me that we’re straying a little bit. I think in the original, she was a love interest to Alfred, which is not something we’re doing right now. We’ll see how it goes!
How much did you know about the character when you took on the role?
Nothing. I did some research, just trying to figure out who she was exactly. But I didn’t delve too deeply into it since we’re not really sticking to the original stuff.
I think the fans are really excited to see the inside of Arkham Asylum. So far we’ve just seen it from the outside. Can you give us an idea of what we can expect? What’s the place like?
It’s pretty dark and creepy. It’s the kind of place you really wouldn’t want to spend too much time at in the real world. While there are some very fascinating characters and people working there, there are also lots of loonies. It’s not a place you want to get stuck in at night.
It’s just really eerie. It’s almost like watching The Shining or something. It’s a really great psychological, dark world.
So when we meet your character, you’re working at Arkham and Jim Gordon gets assigned there as a security guard. How would you describe the relationship between the two characters?
She supports him and appreciates him, which is sort of a new thing for him. They hit it off immediately. At first they’re both kind of checking each other out, just to see what they’re like. But his reputation has preceded him, and she knows exactly who he is. I think she finds it admirable that he’s standing up to the corruption in Gotham, even when it’s to his detriment. And I think he also finds it refreshing because she’s somebody who’s on his side and who supports what he’s doing.
Ben McKenzie has said there might be some romance…
Man, that guy ruined every surprise!
Yeah, there’s definitely some chemistry. There’s definitely the potential for romance. They’re like minded. She’s a little bit awkward and socially not as with it as he would probably like. But she’s disarming and I think she speaks her mind and doesn’t let him get away with bulls**t. So I think it’s good!
Well, looking at a different type of relationship, traditionally Leslie Thomkins shares a close relationship with Bruce Wayne. I know you mentioned you’re straying a bit from the comics, but have you had any scenes so far with David Mazouz?
I haven’t yet. I would love to. I think he’s an incredibly talented young man. If we were to stick to the original backstory, she would have a relationship with his parents. Who knows? In the Gotham world, anything can happen, so there’s certainly room for that.
I know you’ve had some experience dealing with fanbases that can only be described as “passionate.” I’m wondering, how do you approach taking on a role like this one in a universe—the Batman universe—that has an extremely passionate following?
You look at the world that they’re creating on Gotham—and by “they,” I mean the creator and all the phenomenal people involved in the show’s look and design. I just have to find a way to put myself into that, and to really just stay true to the story and do my job as an actor, and I think everything will be fine. The fans are so loyal to the world, and have been doing such a great job with it. The look of it, the characters they’re bringing on, all the backstory… I just find it really fascinating.
In Gotham, Leslie Thompkins works with the criminally insane. I’m curious, what would you say is the most insane thing Morena Baccarin has ever done?
The most insane thing I’ve ever done…
I don’t really do many insane things!
Some would say taking a leap of faith into acting is a little bit crazy.
Definitely a little bit crazy, but it was a passion so I wouldn’t say that it was too insane. I did work recently in Morocco in the desert for two months. That was a little bit insane.
Having played characters opposite both of them, who would you say is more stubborn and hard-headed character-wise? Jim Gordon or Mal Reynolds?
Oh man, that is a tough question! They’re both incredibly stubborn. I’m going to have to go with Mal Reynolds because when I give Jim Gordon sh*t on the show, he finds it amusing and kind of appreciates it. Whereas Mal would just say something snarky back. That man could not take criticism!
Gotham returns with an all-new episode tonight at 8 p.m. (9 p.m. CST) on Fox.