With all of the back-stabbing and betrayals finally catching up with her, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) is in a precarious position in the city, playing all sides against each other. In Episode 14 (called “The Fearsome Dr. Crane”) of Gotham, Fish reveals a secret of Oswald Cobblepot’s (Robin Lord Taylor), prompting Maroni (David Zayas) to take him on a trip to test his loyalty.
During this recent interview with press to discuss her role on the show, which had already been renewed by Fox for Season 2, actress Jada Pinkett Smith talked about how it’s not over yet for Fish, how much of a pleasure it’s been to be a part of the comic book universe that she’s a fan of, her input on her character’s wardrobe, the challenges of making Fish a character that people love to hate but still root for, the relationship between Fish and Penguin, her love for playing strong characters, and why her character in the Magic Mike sequel is totally different from anything that she’s done before, and will probably end up being one of her favorites.
JADA PINKETT SMITH: Well, it’s not quite over yet, but we’ll see if Fish survives the season. It’s a little tense from here on out, that’s for sure. It’s a little rough on Fish, from here on out.
Are you enjoying being a part of the DC comic book universe?
SMITH: Oh, yes, I am. I am enjoying it. I love comic books, so it’s been a real pleasure to be able to participate, in this way, for sure.
Fish Mooney has an awesome wardrobe. Do you have any input into that creative process, at all?
SMITH: I actually do. Our fantastic costume designer usually just comes to me and says, “What do you think about these fabrics? What do you think about this idea?” That’s pretty much it. I tell her to just do whatever she feels because she’s such a fantastic artist, so we usually just talk about shape and color.
What acting challenges have you found, making Fish a character that people love to hate, but at the same time, also root for her?
SMITH: That’s a really good question because I love how colorful Fish can be, but at the same time, you still want her to be relatable. You still want people to be able to look at this woman and not necessarily know her story, but be able to relate to her. Sometimes, in finding where you need to be emotionally, or how grounded you need to be in a scene, or how far you can actually go with the color of it, it tends to be a bit challenging. That’s always a see-saw. It’s always trying to find that balance. But I would say that the aspect that is the most challenging is just keeping that flair while, at the same time, trying to keep her grounded and real.
SMITH: I think she saw Penguin as one of her adopted orphans. Somebody that she took off the street and helped him become something. So, I think that she felt deeply betrayed by Penguin. It will be interesting to see where their relationship goes from here. Right now, they’re not getting along too well. She’s pretty upset with him. But, it will be interesting to see where it goes from here, with the two of them.
Early on in the season, people noticed a change in your accent and delivery style. Was that a conscious decision for you, since Fish Mooney is a thug pretending to be a sophisticated gangster?
SMITH: Yes. You will see, especially in the upcoming shows, the many faces of Fish Mooney. Fish Mooney is a woman who, because of her background and because of who she really is, has taken it upon herself to do a lot of cover-up. So, I think she has all of these different kinds of personalities that she picks and chooses to use during certain times. You have this sophisticated Fish, or what she considers to be what a sophisticated woman sounds like and looks like. But then, there are times when she loses her cool and you see her original essence, which can get a little gutter. Then sometimes, when she has to be influential with men, you’ll see her put on her sexy little kitten voice. This is a woman who has created all of these different masks to fit different times, just depending on what she’s trying to do, at that particular point in time. It’s interesting because, when you watch people in real life, you’ll see that happen often. She just does it in a more extreme way.
SMITH: Funny enough, it really felt like, as soon as I put on that wig, Fish was there. When I put on that wig and her gear, it’s so specifically her. It is an immediate transformation. Ever time I do it, she just arrives. It’s a really beautiful thing to have, as an actress. You just don’t have to work hard for it, and I’m grateful for that. That wig, those heels, and the nails really conjure her.
You are known for playing strong characters. Which one would you say was your most favorite to play?
SMITH: I love playing Fish Mooney. I think you’re going to see a lot more color from Fish, in the episodes to come. I think you’re going to see a lot more vulnerability. I think you’re going to see a lot more of a human side of Fish Mooney. I see Fish Mooney as an extreme version of a woman who wears many faces. She is strong, yet afraid. I would say that the Fish Mooney character has, especially in these coming episodes, has been really fun. I love how smart and perceptive she is. She’s a criminal. She decided to be a criminal, instead of a doctor. I really love her, and I love what’s she becoming, too. In the next few episodes, and definitely towards the end, you’re going to see a whole different Fish, and a woman that definitely has some heart. There’s also a character coming up in Magic Mike that I’m really happy about, and is totally different from anything that I’ve done, thus far. She’s a strong woman, in a much different way. From the response that we’ve been getting, in regards to the character that I play in Magic Mike, I’m really happy in how that turned out. She’ll probably end up being one of my favorites, as well.
Gotham airs on Monday nights on Fox.