Chris Chalk Talks ‘Gotham’
With a list of credits ranging from acting alongside Denzel Washington and Viola Davis on Broadway, to appearing on television shows like Underground, Homeland, and Newsroom; actor Chris Chalk’s current role is allowing him to unlock the door to the past in the City of Gotham.
“Lucius helps to build Bruce Wayne into the eventual Dark Knight,” he explains of his role as Lucius Fox on the hit show Gotham.
JET caught up with Chalk to chat about how Gotham is providing a different perspective into Batman’s past and why it is important to continue telling slave narratives like the film 12 Years a Slave.
JET: What is the premise of the show Gotham?
Chris Chalk: The premise of the show is really our version of exploring the origin of Batman. The City of Gotham is so destroyed that they were like they need Batman. So we are starting with 17 years before he becomes Batman. We kick off the series with Bruce Wayne in middle school and his parents have just been shot. In the movies they only mention that part and skip the rest of those years, but we are those years on the show. I feel like we get the pleasure to tell the story that hasn’t been told.
JET: Talk about your role as Lucius Fox on the show.
Chalk: Well Lucius had a relationship with Bruce’s dad Thomas Wayne. Lucius didn’t help him as much as he could have in Thomas’ attempt to make Gotham a better place. So now that Thomas is dead, we find Fox’s loyalty to Bruce and helping him to better Gotham. It’s not quite a father son relationship because there’s another guy on the show that is more of a father figure to Bruce.
JET: In the Batman movies, Morgan Freeman made the role of Lucius famous. Did you study his portrayal and what other research did you do to capture the essence of the character?
Chalk: I really appreciate Morgan, he’s obviously one of the greats. We are the two people that have played Lucius Fox live action. It’s great because he made a series of awesome choices; now I have every other choice left out there to make. People have asked me if he has been an influence to me in this role, and he hasn’t because I get to play the part of Lucius before he even becomes the older man. It’s a hard thing to compare the two of us because we are more in support of each other in a way.
In terms of research, we both likely did the same thing, which is going to the comic books, the novels, and finding those pieces of Lucius in the stories. Morgan created an old Lucius Fox, and I’m creating a younger Lucius Fox. I didn’t study his role for this one, but I have seen the movies a dozen times, so I already knew the role.
JET: What can Gotham fans expect to see in Season 3?
Chalk: They can expect to see the people getting closer and closer to those versions of themselves. More villains coming into the mix; which is making Gotham crazier. Lucius was working for Wayne Enterprises, but now he’s out of sorts with them, so he’s working with the Gotham City Police Department. So we get to see him creating gadgets and becoming the Lucius that ultimately, we know the direction he’s going. We get to see how he uses his mind.
JET: You were in projects like 12 Years a Slave and Underground. With Birth of a Nation coming out, why is it important that these types of stories continue to be told despite the social media uproar where folks say we don’t need any more “slave movies” or television shows?
Chalk: I think there’s a shame in the Black community surrounding slavery and the narrative that we have all learned; and it’s one that we should be ashamed of and not talk about it. It’s a white guilt and a Black shame, and that is what makes people think we shouldn’t tell those stories. They are important, because each story is a person’s life. So the more we can humanize the whole concept of slavery, then you’ll see this person has a name, a journey, and how slavery was a big impediment to their success in life. So if we can stop thinking about the institution and start humanizing it; then maybe we can all have a voice and take some responsibility with it. I think we need more of these types of TV shows, movies, and even books, so that we can control those narratives and tell those stories accurately because history tends to be revised.
JET: What else are you working on?
Chalk: There’s a short film coming out called 4 Pounds of Flowers. Come and Find Me is another film that should be coming out with myself, Aaron Paul, and Garret Dillahunt, that should be really good.
Gotham premieres on Fox on September 19th at 8pm