‘Pennyworth’ star Jack Bannon on Season 2 of the Batman prequel
It’s the “Batman” world like it’s never been seen before.
Epix drama “Pennyworth” dives into the lore of the famous superhero’s universe by showcasing the early life of Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon), the man who would later become Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler.
Season 2, premiering Dec. 13 at 9 p.m., has added new cast member James Purefoy (“Rome”) and finds Alfred now running a black-market club as the threat of the fascist Raven Society grows stronger.
“The great thing about being allowed to do a Season 2 is that you work out what works and what doesn’t and start playing to your strengths,” says Bannon, 29. “Because it’s wartime, there’s a lot of big action in it, which felt almost like we were doing a movie at times rather than TV.
“Season 2 takes place a year on from the end of Season 1. Civil war has fully kicked off, the country is even more divided, and the Ravens have gained even more power,” he says. “London and Soho is a neutral zone, so Alfred has a big new nightclub that he’s running in Soho [and] he’s trying to get together enough money to get to America — because England is struggling and he thinks he and his mom can go make a better life there.
“So that’s his main goal.”
Bannon says he was eager to work with Purefoy, who plays Captain Troy, a character new to the audience but very familiar to Alfred.
“He’s an old captain of Alfred’s from the army,” Bannon says. “He’s kind of a dark character that Alfred sees himself in and looks up to. They have quite a strange but brilliant relationship, and James is an actor that I’ve watched for years. He came on and was so generous with his knowledge and time
“He was great fun.”
“Pennyworth” is set in a recognizable version of 1960s London mixed with a comic-book style alternative history. For instance, along with ’60s fashion and pop culture, there are televised public executions and the Raven Society, which is working to overthrow the British government.
The story follows Alfred, a former British SAS soldier who’s forming his own private security company while working as a bouncer in an exclusive nightclub.
“For me, the Christopher Nolan trilogy was the one that really grabbed me,” Bannon says about his history with the Batman franchise. “I wasn’t a comic book reader really when I was growing up. But the films definitely grabbed my attention.”
The most famous movie version of Alfred is Michael Caine’s portrayal in Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy — and Bannon says he even modeled his onscreen accent after Caine.
“I think he was the one that said, ‘I’ll play a butler as long as he’s ex-SAS.’ So he gave us that backstory which our series explores, so we owed him that — and also because [the show is] set in the ’60s, and [Caine] was kind of the archetypical film star of the ‘60s.
“In the very first audition tape, I thought I was too young for the role and did a terrible Michael Caine impersonation,” Bannon says.
“I thought, ‘Well, I’ll never hear anything about that!’”