With the debut of Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler on HBO Max, the series is set to join the streamer’s stacked lineup of DC universe stories. Pennyworth, which aired its first two seasons on Epix, follows the origin story of Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon) as he first meets Thomas and Martha Wayne (Ben Aldridge and Emma Paetz). This season features a five year time jump from the 1960s to the 70s as Alfred deals with the aftermath of the massive civil war of season 2. With new superheroes and villains teased to be making appearances, Pennyworth season 3 is set to be the biggest yet for the series.
As part of New York Comic Con, Nerds & Beyond had the opportunity to participate in a round table chat with Bannon, Aldridge, and executive producers Bruno Heller and John Stephens (Gotham) about the upcoming season!
Note: Responses may be edited for clarity.
Nerds & Beyond: With the move from Epix to HBO Max, you guys are now alongside all of these other wonderful DC shows. Where do you see yourselves fitting in within that group? What sort of DC audience are you appealing to with this show, and what do you see your niche as?
John Stephens: I think this show has far more profanity than those of the other shows. [laughs] And I think there’s far more blood and guts. I think it’s actually a very adult version of a show that lives inside the DC world, and not just because of the violence and the profanity, but I feel like the show digs into the relationships between the characters in very real ways. If you were to strip out all of the DC stuff from the show, I think it plays as a drama.
Bruno Heller: Mm-hmm. Exactly. See, I’m so glad you answered that! I was gonna say, “Oh, we are the Fredo Corleone: we’re instrumental in the plot, but we don’t get no respect!”
Nerds & Beyond: Coming off of last season, obviously a time jump brings a lot of changes emotionally for a character. What was your preparation like for this season? Can you preview any of the journey for Alfred Pennyworth this year?
Jack Bannon: Five years is quite a long time. It can fly by like that, especially now. With COVID, I felt … we’ve been doing this show for four years, and yet it kind of feels like four days and also 45 years! I can’t quite work it out. But in terms of prep, it was just thinking about how Alfred, I think has gone from a boy to a man really from the beginning, from the pilot episode to where we are now. And I’m 31 myself. This show has been a part of my life for a number of years, and it was thinking about the parallels of how my life has changed and how his life may have changed over that time was useful to me sort of bringing it back personally and back home.
Nerds & Beyond: We were talking earlier about the new 70s setting. What was it like on set with the cinematography, the costumes? In the screeners that we saw, it looked so immersive and so real, it must have felt incredible in person.
Jack Bannon: Oh, obviously incredible. Yeah. The costume design is brilliant. Liza [Bracey], our costume designer, has been with us from the beginning, and I think she’s incredible. The suits are so tailored to within an inch of their life, but it makes me stand different. It’s like wearing a corset. I can’t slouch, which is good. That helps me with the physicality. And the sets … they’re incredible. The back lot that we have is amazing. They were getting like train lines in and all sorts and it’s like being at Disneyland.
Nerds & Beyond: The big twist at the end of season 2 was having Thomas and Martha Wayne’s baby be a baby girl, which was something a lot of people weren’t expecting! What was that like for you when you first read that twist and saw the audience’s response?
Ben Aldridge: Yeah, me too! I obviously totally thought when she was pregnant when that was first teased, I was like, “Oh, great, well, Batman’s gonna arrive sooner than I thought he was going to.” And then reading that and being like, “It’s a girl! Is it Batgirl? Are they changing the gender?” Which would be a totally cool thing to do! I still don’t know the answer. They won’t tell us what that whole thing is. And obviously, it’s not in the lore that Bruce has an older sister. So yeah, still intrigued.
Samantha [Wayne] is a cool little character actually. And a brilliant little actress called Jayda [Eyles] who was totally feisty and gave me and Emma [Paetz] a run for our money on set. She’s a really good actress. But yes, it was a surprise. It was definitely a surprise. And I don’t really go looking for the fan reactions online or whatever. I’m afraid to find the wrong thing out, but I’m sure there were opinions and theories about that as well. It was a cool little twist, I thought!
Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler season 3 is available on HBO Max now. Be sure to check back for more of our NYCC coverage!