EXCLUSIVE: There are many fascinating pairings set for Gotham, from Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock to Fish Mooney and Oswald Cobblepot, and Gotham TV Podcast got the opportunity to interrogate the Detective partnership of Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and Crispus Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones) about the TV show, their characters, the role of the Montoya / Allen partnership and the influence of the comic series Gotham Central on the show. We get to hear that their off-screen friendship is as strong as their on-screen partnership, we find out Victoria Cartagena’s favourite arc of the comic series Gotham Central and we uncover some details about Detective Allen’s past.
In the build up to the release of the Gotham premiere on Fox in the USA (22nd September) and Channel 5 in the UK, our look at the comic series Gotham Central shows the importance of this detective partnership to the Major Crimes Unit (M.C.U.) of the Gotham City Police Department and we can’t wait to see this great Detective alliance brought to the screen. You can read the interview below but there’s nothing better than hearing them in person. Check out the full interview where they answer all of our questions.
Gotham TV Podcast: What drew you to audition for a role in the upcoming batman prequel series Gotham? Did you have much exposure to previous incarnations of this universe such as the movies, comics or TV shows?
Victoria Cartagena (Renee Montoya): When I got the call for the audition there was no script there were only dummy sides [scenes unconnected to the TV show Gotham], however, I was aware that it had something to do with Batman’s Gotham and, because I’d been a fan all my life, I certainly wanted a chance to be part of the show. Because i grew up watching the Batman re-runs with Adam West and seeing all the Batman films from the 80s, 90s all the way up to the Nolan films, I’ve seen them all in the theatre so I was definitely familiar and excited to even audition for it.
Andrew Stewart-Jones (Crispus Allen): Honestly, the audition was one of a bunch on Valentine’s Day this year. I was just trying to get through the day. At the time, I had no idea what I might be getting involved in. Also the role was a possible recurring so although that is wonderful, I was already auditioning for series regulars roles so this wasn’t high on the list. I should add that the folks behind Gotham were very secretive. I had no idea exactly what I was reading for.
GTVP: You’ve been cast in the roles of Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen, detectives in the Gotham City Police Department (G.C.P.D.). What qualities of the character of Montoya and Allen drew you to their characters?
Cartagena: I love that she’s passionate and fiercely loyal and I’m really drawn to what a bad-ass she is. Cause she certainly has a swagger, that I don’t, so that’s fun to play. She works with some really tough guys but she can hang with the best of them. And as an actor I appreciate that she’s flawed. She’s strong and intelligent but at the same time she’s quick to anger and it sometimes clouds her judgment. So she’s tough but vulnerable too and that’s always interesting to play.
Stewart-Jones: Without a doubt, his moral compass would always be his outstanding quality. In a world so dark and corrupt, Allen has his eye on the right way to do things. I love that.
GTVP: This is the first screen outing for Renee Montoya. She is known in the comics to have a complex and interesting back story in both her professional and private life. Will we see any of these complexities play out in the TV series?
Cartagena: So I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future but in the episodes we have shot you will DEFINITELY get a glimpse into the complex relationships, for sure (laughs).
GTVP: This is also the first screen outing for Allen. He is known in the comics to be fiercely loyal to his friends but doesn’t suffer fools lightly. Will we see any of these strong character traits play out in the TV series?
Stewart-Jones: Rob Brown played a G.C.P.D. officer by the name of Allen in The Dark Knight Rises. Just FYI. But yes, this is Crispus Allen’s big debut as such. You’ve basically described me, Andrew, to a tee… so yes.
GTVP to Victoria Cartagena: Another important person in Renee’s life is Detective Crispus Allen, your partner in the G.C.P.D. Given they have such a close relationship how has it been creating and developing that bond with Andrew Stewart Jones?
Cartagena: I absolutely could not have asked for a better screen partner. From the first day we walked on to set we had this immediate connection and he’s become a really great friend and I think that our bond keeps strengthening the more that we work together and its certainly transferred onto the screen. He’s just an amazing actor, a very generous actor and a lot of fun to be around. So I’m really just grateful to be able to be his partner.
GTVP to Andrew Stweart-Jones: Detective Allen is very protective of Renee Montoya, his partner in the G.C.P.D., and is known in the comics to have her back in many tough situations both in the field and in the office. Are you enjoying creating this partnership with Victoria Cartagena as Renee Montoya?
Stewart-Jones: Working with Victoria is an absolute honor and a treat. She is incredible. Very giving, funny and gullible. So susceptible to all of my shenanigans – which I LOVE! The on-screen relationship, I believe, will benefit from the instant connection we had as professionals.
GTVP to Victoria Cartagena: We’ve been covering the comic series Gotham Central in the lead up to the show and have particularly been enjoying the interplay between your character and Crispus Allen. We know that you’ve been reading the series too. Are there any standout moments that you read and would like to see transferred to the TV series?
Cartagena: I really love the story arc for Renee in Half a Life [issues 5 – 9] she went through a lot of highs and lows. So I really hope it makes it onto the show because what stood out to me was how strong the bond is between Montoya and Allen. During those really tough times (Crispus) Allen was the only one that really went to bat for her and he had her back without question. You could just see how fiercely loyal they are to one another. So they’re more than partners, they’re friends or…more like family actually. I hope that the audience get to see that bond and it was important for me to read that on paper to make sure we were getting the job done.
GTVP to Andrew Steward-Jones: We’ve been covering the comic series Gotham Central in the lead up to the show and have particularly been enjoying the interplay between your character and Renee Montoya. We know a number of the cast have been given Gotham Central to prepare for their roles. Were you given any reading material to guide your preparation of your character and to what extent do you balance this with the bringing new ideas to the role?
Stewart-Jones: I wasn’t asked to read anything but I’m a bit of a comic nut. I didn’t want to just lift the character off the comic book pages and present him on people’s screens. I wanted him to be human. Accessible. But, at the same time, I am committed to always having the comic as the foundation upon which I build.
GTVP to Victoria Cartagena: Gotham has many different characters on the path to greater destinies, Jim Gordon eventually becomes the Commissioner of the G.C.P.D., the young Bruce Wayne will in adulthood become the Batman and Oswald Cobblepot is taking his first steps on the road to leading the criminal underworld, which of these narratives most excites you?
Cartagena: I’ve had the privilege to do at least one scene with all of these actors so I’m just looking forward to what each one of them brings to the story because they are so talented and they bring their own unique and original take on the portrayal so it’s just going to be thrilling to watch. (My answer is) all of them.
GTVP to Andrew Stewart-Jones: Gotham has some other interesting characters on the payroll of the G.C.P.D., there is the mystery of Edward Nygma, the intensity of Jim Gordon’s moral code, the political aspirations of Captain Sarah Essen and the old school style of Harvey Bullock. How does this mix of characters affect the dynamic in the G.C.P.D. and which of these characters interest you the most?
Stewart-Jones: The beauty, mystery and sheer fun of Gotham is the mufti-faceted dynamics of the relationships. It’s never ending. Always escalating. It’s fascinating to witness. I was Harvey’s partner before Gordon and so there is tension. A wound or two. Deep history. I’m closest to him. I won’t say if that’s good or bad.
GTVP: The fan reaction is building for this show in a big way, are you excited for the New York premiere of Gotham in September where you and your fellow cast members get to experience the fan reaction to the pilot first hand?
Victoria: For sure, I’m definitely excited. We’ve been working on this for months, it feels like a really long time and we really can’t wait to share it with the public and I really hope to hear back from the fans and I hope they enjoy it and I think that they will. So, Yes, can’t come soon enough. Just a few more weeks.
Stewart-Jones: When the word for my level of excitement is invented, I will happily use it ad nauseam. Until then we can use the longest word from Mary Poppins. It’s PGA rated, which helps.
GTVP: Finally, if Gotham TV Podcast were to be questioned in the suspect interview room at the G.C.P.D., which of the Montoya-Allen partnership would play the “Good Cop” and who would play the “Bad Cop”?
Victoria: This is my favourite question. So…you guys are so great that I think that there would be no need either of us to play the bad cop. But, on the off chance that one of you broke the law or you just had something that we need like some information then I’m pretty sure that Montoya would be the one to ride you until you spill the beans because she is a dog with a bone that one.Yeah I’d put my money on Montoya.
Stewart-Jones: If you ever end up being questioned by us, that information will not help you in the slightest and you will be wishing and praying to wake up from your bad dream! Gotham TV Podcast… do not cross Allen and Montoya! Oh, and thank you for this. I’ll be listening in. Enjoy the premiere.
Derek O’Neill and John Harrison are hosts of the Gotham TV Podcast, the unofficial podcast about the TV show Gotham and the connected DC universe. A very special thank you for this interview to Amy at Channel 5 and Holly, Marc and Steven at Warner Bros for their help and most importantly we want to thank Victoria Cartagena and Andrew Stewart-Jones for their time.
You can check out our other podcasts here. For anyone wishing to delve deeper in to the Gotham Central series you can check out our podcast reviews and discussions on the comic series: Gotham Central Review Part 1, Gotham Central Review Part 2, Gotham Central Review Part 3, Gotham Central Review Part 4, Gotham Central Review Part 5