Exclusive Interview: Donal Logue on Harvey Bullock in Gotham

Warning: Potential spoilers for “Gotham” follow.

Props to Fox’s “Gotham” for making Harvey Bullock a central character in the Batman origin story. The show is about Jim Gordon’s (Ben McKenzie) detective days long before he became Gotham City police commissioner, but his partner is Bullock (Donal Logue), a grizzled veteran cop who doesn’t want to upset the status quo too much. When Bruce Wayne’s (David Mazouz) parents are killed, it’s Gordon who pushes to take the case and challenge the easy patsy.

SuperHeroHype: “Gotham” is obviously from the perspective of Jim Gordon, but how central is Harvey?

Donal Logue: I mean, it’s kind of a detective story of partners. Jim Gordon has his tentacles with more of the disparate groups right now. Ben more than me, but Ben and I shoulder most of the workload, so Harvey’s integral to it. Gordon is the everyman in the midst of this world.

SHH: Is there a lot of good banter written for you and Ben to bounce off each other?

Logue: Yeah, absolutely, totally. We’re having fun. He’s a good partner for that. He’s a good actor, great guy. We get along really well but it’s early days yet. We’re just getting into the flow. It takes a while, for cast and crew. We’re taking something that we did in 15 days to try and make in eight days. It’s hard.

SHH: The pilot was 15 days?

Logue: Which is typical. They’re trying to tell a lot of story in a few days of filming, so it’s a challenge.

SHH: Now that you’re shooting a few episodes since the pilot, do you feel you know Harvey Bullock even more?

Logue: I learn more stuff and I think we’ve figured some stuff out. We’re finding new things to try and do, but I feel like I knew him pretty well. I feel like it wasn’t that hard to find off the bat for me. What’s odd is “Gotham” is a weird job that you spend a lot of time talking about, and until it comes out… I personally prefer to just do it.

SHH: Are you looking forward to showing “Gotham” at Comic-Con?

Logue: Yeah, definitely. I think Comic-Con will be a little overwhelming but fun. To me personally, it’s just we’re in the middle of work so bouncing to the West Coast twice in a week is a lot, but it’s good. I think it’ll be interesting to see people at Comic-Con and what they think about it.

SHH: Besides comic books, the big comparison for “Gotham” seems to be film noir. Are you very well steeped in the tropes of film noir?

Logue: I think so. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on it. My attraction to “Gotham” would be the same attraction I would have to a Black Dahlia type story or Raymond Chandler or older James Ellroy, or noir, Maltese Falcon, anything. Even Howard Hawks’ stuff. It’s not about someone exploding in flames and flying over that mountain. It’s gritty urban detective stuff.

SHH: How entrenched is Harvey Bullock with Carmine Falcone and Fish Mooney?

Logue: Pretty entrenched. With Fish, even more so. We’re discovering and learning more about it now. I don’t know anything, but I know the next few episodes and it’s interesting.

SHH: Is Fish the wild card because she’s the new character?

Logue: What Bruno [Heller] said today is telling. A great thing about one hour television is you get to see what resonates and vibrates. I don’t think he’s cast in stone where any trajectory is. He knows where the season’s going, but this year will be a lot of Cobblepot/Mooney struggle stuff. Fish and I have a complicated history.

SHH: I got the sense Harvey might be on certain payrolls.

Logue: Yeah, or Harvey might’ve had a relationship with Fish.

SHH: Maybe he has a more contentious relationship with Falcone?

Logue: I don’t know. Falcone saves me in the pilot.

SHH: Do we learn much about Harvey’s personal home life?

Logue: Start to. We haven’t gotten there yet. You also find out about what happened in his past that deeply affected him and made him as cynical as he is.

SHH: Is there a chance to play flashbacks?

Logue: Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re talking about. I haven’t seen them yet, but that’s what they’re talking about.

SHH: How much range does that give you to know you’re not just playing Harvey in the present, you’re going to get the past as well?

Logue: For me, I take it all in stride. I did the same thing on “Terriers.” We did a flashback episode to show what happened to me that cost me my job as a police officer. So I just take it as it comes. Honestly, right now I’m focused on episode 1-3. I was studying it last night, working on it and you have to be flexible. The scripts will come down and sometimes there’s big shifts you have to be adaptable to. I don’t over-intellectualize it either. I’m ready to role whichever way they want me to go.

SHH: Were there any particularly useful Harvey Bullock issues of comic books that helped you as research?

Logue: “Gotham Central.” That’s the majority of it and the animated series was good too. I didn’t want to match what that guy did. I watched it a lot because my kids watched it, so I just didn’t want to do an impersonation of that guy. Then just Gotham in general. We’re inventing a lot of stories. We’re adding to the narrative so it doesn’t really have to lock into [other versions]. There’s a lot of different journeys that these characters have taken in different incarnations of the show, so you don’t want to get married too much to one. Harvey is a crooked cop but he also did heroic things, so I think it’s good to know the parameters of the world but not get too locked into it too much.

SHH: Is there any part of “Gotham” that’s just like doing a cop drama?

Logue: Totally. It is a cop drama. It is a procedural. It reminds me of “Life,” the show I did with Damian Lewis and Sarah Shahi. Just a little bit more hard boiled and we don’t have to get so locked down into procedural minutiae, because it’s more of a colorful world. It’s more of a theatrical world, so it is kind of a procedural detective drama right now.

SHH: Given their plan to introduce red herrings for The Joker and slowly tease The Joker…

Logue: I don’t even know exactly what that is.

SHH: Do you have a role in it to be part of a misdirect?

Logue: I don’t know how they’re planning on unfolding with The Joker. I think the next few episodes, they’re really focusing on the emergence of The Penguin. I’m in the dark like everybody else. I’m three episodes ahead of the rest of you. I don’t know who else, Two-Face, I don’t know where other ones will come out but we’ve introduced a good cadre of villains so far in the pilot. We need to explore their development a bit.

SHH: When viewers see what Jim does at the end of the pilot, is there a lot of tension that Harvey might find out?

Logue: That’s going to probably play a big role in the upcoming episodes, absolutely. F*** yeah.

SHH: Is there a lot of action in the upcoming episodes?

Logue: Yeah, and there are some great guest stars who I can’t talk about but amazing actors have jumped in. It goes into a couple of more, almost standalone crimes, procedural style with still the big through line of what happens as a result of that decision with The Penguin in there, but there’s a couple of crimes that hint that there’s deep rottenness in Gotham and it goes sometimes up to higher levels. I like that, that the episodes can stand alone a little bit but they still work within the greater fabric.

SHH: Do you have much to do with David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne and Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle?

Logue: Not yet. Camren and I cross paths a little bit when we come back, which is great. You start to learn a little bit more about the budding Selina Kyle.

SHH: What must Harvey think of these kids running around Gotham?

Logue: They’re a problem. We address it. It’s like the favela kids in Brazil. Street kids, they’re an issue in Gotham.

“Gotham” premieres September 22 on Fox.