Currently airing on Fox is the fifth and final season premiere of Gotham (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT), which wraps up the beloved series in a farewell event that will focus on Bruce Wayne’s (David Mazouz) ultimate transformation into the Caped Crusader, as Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) tries to hold together a city on the edge of chaos.
Following the events of last season, the fifth season, titled “GOTHAM: Legend of the Dark Knight,” will pick up with Gotham City split amongst Gordon and the GCPD, and some of the most notorious fan-favorite villains, as the heroes try to gain control and salvage what’s left of the deteriorating city. This season will also introduce new villains, including the iconic Bane (guest star Shane West). GOTHAM is an origin story of the great DC Super-Villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told.
GOTHAM follows the rise of Det. James Gordon through a dangerously corrupt city teetering between good and evil, and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time. The series, from Warner Bros. Television, stars Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith and Chris Chalk.
For Chalk, who’s being playing Lucius Fox since the end of season one, the Asheville, NC native has seen his character grow over the years and he’s been having a blast working with the cast. Within the last decade, he’s maintained steady work on television with roles on HBO’s The Newsroom, Showtime’s Homeland, and FX’s Justified. He also had a recurring role as William Still in WGN’s Underground. Film credits include Kathryn Bigelow’s civil rights drama, Detroit and Steve McQueen’s Academy Award-winning film, 12 Years A Slave. Coming up next for him is playing Yusuf Salaam in Ava DuVernay’s Central Park 5 series for Netflix.
Blackfilm.com recently caught up with Chalk as his talks about his experience on Gotham and working with the cast.
What’s been the experience in playing Lucius Fox?
Chris Chalk: The experience of playing Lucius Fox has been a great one. It was a role I took because it was different from the roles I normally do. It ended up being just that in its own way inside of being a genre TV show in that I was invited to an event for young kids of color. This is awesome for them and a kid came up to me and said, “Hey, I’m so glad you’re a Brown person on a TV show and you don’t ever fight and you’re the smartest person in the room.” It’s very funny how this sort of lined up with my ethos as far as work with what I try to do with the roles I take, even though I was trying to avoid it. It’s been really wonderful. It’s also wonderful to be part of a DC world. I’m a big comic book head and being able to be part of that canon and make some sort of social impact is kind of a win win.
Where are we now with Fox in this final season? How much can you say from what has been shown?
Chris Chalk: Well, we have Fox working for Bruce Wayne with the GCPD. It’s moving towards Bruce is what I can tell you. As he gets closer to that final episode of donning the mask, we see more of Lucius Fox as Gotham is getting more and more chaotic. There is less people to help and Lucius is kind of a jack-of-all-trades and has a hand of all things technological, scientific and smart and GCPD uses him quiet a bit. Wayne Enterprises uses him quite a bit and obviously Bruce uses him the most of anyone since that’s who he is there to serve.
As an actor, did you the character grow from the minute you started on the show until now?
Chris Chalk: What I love about the writers and the writing staff and creators is that they find a way to take a little bit from each actor and put it in the character. It’s really evident in the Riddler and the Penguin but it is also present in the straight characters, the good guys, the more boring characters. They found a way to embrace who I am and put it in the character and that is how he has grown. He could have easily have been constantly giving out information like an encyclopedia but they found ways to use what I’m good at and put it inside of him. As we get further, we see how he feels about things. He’s not the most articulate in regards to his feelings.
How is working with this cast?
Chris Chalk: We get along incredibly well. I was nervous when I first came in because I came in at the end of the first season and they had already establish a rhythm and I was like, “Why am I taking on this role when they already got a rhythm and I’m going to be too low on the call sheet to be relevant,” and it ends being that nobody cares. They made it so comfortable to find my space inside of the narrative.
I quiet enjoy hanging out with them, but more importantly, I love working with these people. Each one of them has a reason to be excited when you get to work with them. That’s pretty fun. Being in a large cast can be daunting, but it brings in some variety to the work that on days when I work with Ben (McKenzie) and Donal (Logue), I know it’s going to be a lot of laughs, and I know when I work with Cameron (Monaghan) and David (Mazouz) we get to play. Growing with these people and working with this cast has been awesome.
Do folks recognize you as Lucius Fox when you’re outside?
Chris Chalk: I get recognize a lot for the characters I play. I can’t say which one is the most I get recognize the most, but the fanbase for Gotham is not shy is saying hello.
Not for WGN’s Underground?
Chris Chalk: I get that all the time. I live in a very brown section in Brooklyn, so Undergound has a huge fanbase even though it got cancelled. At least in my neighborhood. The Gotham fans are a confident bunch who like to tell you their opinion about the show and I think that is awesome because I think engaging the fanbase is a great part of the job. It’s not required but it’s something I enjoy doing.
You recently shot The Central Park series for Netflix and Ava DuVernay. How was working with her?
Chris Chalk: I like Ava quiet a bit. There are so many different kinds of directors. I’m a director myself so I like to study directors and see what they do and what is their thing. I’m always fascinated when someone has great popularity and see what is their thing. Ava is such a fan of her actors and she trusts them, which is a common thread with all of my favorite directors. It was a quiet an experience working with her and meeting Yusef Salaam and the other men and hearing their stories from their own mouths is a great responsibility that I enjoyed taking on.
What goes to saying yes to the projects you end up doing?
Chris Chalk: It depends on a lot of things, like where I’m at emotionally, physically, and financially. The questions I ask myself is, “Is the character awesome? Is the script awesome? How are the people from the cast and crew awesome? Can I learn from them? and How much money is there?” Depending on where I am in my life, one of those questions can easily trump the other.
What’s a good reason to catch up on Gotham if you haven’t done so already?
Chris Chalk: Part of the reason to start catching up is that the character development has grown significantly from season one to season five and the absolutely amazing directing, cinematography, special effects and coloring that goes on in Gotham. They win awards. As a filmmaker, it’s a beautiful experience to watch great images on TV. Not a lot of shows get five seasons so it’s fun to watch.