In his brief time on the GCPD (and even briefer time at Arkham Asylum), Jim Gordon has had memorable run-ins with more than his fair share of baddies. One of the standouts has been Victor Zsasz, the relentless and utterly unhinged assassin employed by Carmine Falcone. Embodied by actor Anthony Carrigan, Zsasz first appeared last fall in “The Penguin’s Umbrella,” where he was tasked with killing Gordon. That episode ended in something of a draw—Zsasz didn’t kill the detective, but Gordon didn’t actually defeat him—and it certainly left the door open to more from the future Bat-villain. Well, fans who were hoping to see him return to add more tally marks to his collection are in luck. Zsasz is featured in tonight’s all new episode, “What the Little Bird Told Him.”
We got a chance to speak with Carrigan recently about some of the differences between his character on the show and in the comics, whether he thinks Zsasz ever cheats on tallying up his victims and how he would feel about going up against the Dark Knight.
Victor Zsasz is a character that’s pretty well known among our more devout Batman fans, but he’s not someone who’s as recognizable to casual fans. He’s not a Joker, a Catwoman, or a Penguin. How much did you know about him when you first got the role?
I actually knew a fair amount about Victor. I’d seen him here and there in the comics. I also play video games and remember seeing him while playing Batman: Arkham Asylum and just being kind of creeped out by him. So I definitely had an idea of who he was when I first got called in. That really helped.
Your first appearance as Zsasz was in one of the strongest episodes of Gotham so far. What can you tell us about your return?
You get to see Victor and Falcone’s relationship a little bit more. He’s essentially this enforcer for Falcone, but there’s also a dynamic between them that’s established in the writing and you get to see what that relationship is. Also, Victor likes to have a job and go to work and do his thing, which just happens to be murdering and enforcing crimes. You get to see him really happy at going to work.
In the comics, Victor Zsasz is an outright serial killer, while on the show, he’s a hitman. Is that something you deliberately changed, or do you think we’ll see Zsasz devolve into an even bigger psychopath on the show?
Well, the cool thing about what’s being established is that right now it’s a little bit of both. He just so happens to be a serial killer that is using his skills for a very specific purpose. One of the things that I really have a lot of fun with in playing the character is seeing this sort of schism of being very methodical, but also very violent. He’s very smooth, but also very agitated. I think you might begin to see the crazy more. It’s very possible. However, what I think is so fascinating about the character is that both of those elements are there.
So is your read on the character that if he didn’t a job as a hitman, he’d probably still be killing?
Yeah, I think so! He definitely enjoys what he does and he just so happens to be employed and appreciated for his skills. But he’s pretty psychotic through and through. He wouldn’t stop being a psychopath if he got fired.
In the comics, Zsasz is usually identified more with knives than with guns. Any chance we’ll be seeing a change in his weapon of choice?
That’s the fun thing about being able to do a TV show that has an arc for the story and its characters. It leaves a lot of room to open things up and see where different elements come in. Everyone at Gotham has done a really great job of both honoring the comics and these characters while also putting their own spin on it and allowing room for potential and for growth. In terms of knives, yeah, I know that’s something that’s very specific to Victor, but I think what’s more prominent in the show is just how much he loves what he does. And that includes carving tally marks into his body.
Speaking of those marks, I have to ask, do you think Victor ever adds extra tally marks when no one’s looking to make himself seem more badass? I’ve always wondered that.
No, I actually don’t. He’s very methodical about his process. I can’t remember what issue it is, but there’s this one comic where he thinks that he’s killed Alfred Pennyworth and then it turns out that Alfred is actually alive and Victor had already carved a notch for him in his skin. It drove him nuts! He couldn’t live with himself. I think that the stronger choice is to make it something that is really, really important to him.
What do you think Zsasz does to unwind on Saturday nights?
Honestly, I think he just parties with the Zsaszettes. He’s got this whole crew of henchwomen that he relies on and loves to be around. He is a bit of a ladies man. Let’s be honest.
Finally, we know that Zsasz eventually goes up against Batman. Do you think you’ll be in good fighting shape in 10-15 years when David Mazouz is ready to put on the cowl?
The way I see Victor is that he’s tough. With each tally mark, he becomes stronger in my opinion. So he’s readying himself to go against the Caped Crusader. This is all just practice.
Gotham airs Mondays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on Fox.