Gotham’s Dollmaker: “There’s dead, and there’s mostly dead”

Gotham, The Dollmaker
Bell Media

The beginning of the end seems pretty damned near for Fish Mooney following Monday night’s highly anticipated return of Gotham, doesn’t it? Especially since we already know it’s coming.

Not only did “Beasts of Prey” introduce us to Milo Ventimiglia’s Ogre character, but we saw Fish (Jada Pinkett Smith) finally make her move against The Dollmaker (Colm Feore) and his Lost-wannabe henchmen when she plotted to save herself and the prisoners via a convenient chopper. Of course, she failed to take that extra split second to actually end The Dollmaker’s life, meaning this might not actually be the last we see of the villainous mad scientist.

To get the scoop, we caught up with The Dollmaker himself, Canadian Colm Feore, to get his take on that splendid exit, whether we could see more of him in the future, and how on earth body-horror makes it into the 8 p.m. slot on a Monday night.

The TV Junkies: Dollmaker is a bit of a newer Batman villain. How did you go about bringing him to life?
Colm Feore: Well there are about three iterations of The Dollmaker I believe, and obviously the comic book mavens bring these characters up to suit their needs at the time. The folks who are producing and writing Gotham are doing much the same thing. They are faithful to the idea and the basic notions and then really allowing their imaginations to take flight. They’ve created this city and established a house style of the dark, noir period feel. It’s a very elegant look for people, strangely enough–everybody kind of looks good and crisp. Criminals in suits are always so much more respectable. And the bottom line is that I just trusted that they had a plan and that the stuff that I saw indicated on the page in the script was the way they wanted to go.

TTVJ: At times he almost seemed like a cruise ship director. 
CF: Yeah! Actually that’s the feeling. The woman wheeling by in the wheelchair, and there’s going to be martinis on the deck and tango lessons later on. Yeah! There is a bit of that. I mean it’s a very exclusive retreat, the equivalent of having to go to Brazil now to get plastic surgery done.

TTVJ: Did you find it tricky balancing a character with that much of a body-horror element with the family-friendly time slot?
CF: I’ve had a little difficulty with my family, my nieces and nephews. My brothers and sister said, ‘The kids want to watch you, uncle Colm, but it was really too scary. Why can’t you be on a show that they can watch, like Arrow?’ What am I supposed to say to those kids. I know it’s a little scary but that’s the point. It is a pretty interesting slot for how far they go, I do agree with that. but I turn the TV for five seconds in a hotel room recently, and it was The Walking Dead. Eighteen heads blew up in the time that it took me to change the channel. So … the standards have moved slightly. The Gotham people may be pushing it just a little bit, but it is still fundamentally rooted in story.

TTVJ: What was so appealing about Fish? Why keep her around instead of just killing her?
CF: She says it herself. She says, ‘Look. I have a lot of power. These people trust me. You want results? I can give you results.’ And for his super objective, she’s kind of useful. He thinks he could always destroy her. He could turn her into something, he could do something really interesting with her if she fails to please him. But in the meantime, it allows him an intermediary so he doesn’t have to get his hands quite as dirty. So she does actually offer him something that he can use.

TTVJ: Was there also a weird mutilating-attraction to her?
CF: She’s an extraordinary creature and the lengths she’s gone to suggest she’s tougher than we are are pretty gruesome. The whole eye trick? Wow. Well I guess you’re serious. So there’s a kind of admiration for her really. As a specimen she’s fascinating. You can see that for all his rationality, he’s really interested in that. What makes us survive? Who survives? How tough do you have to be? And is there something just in the genetic code of these kinds of people that is … that really warrants a great deal more investigation? I think he wants to go a lot farther with her.

TTVJ: That certainly came back to haunt him. Is this the last we’ve seen of The Dollmaker?
CF: Even if you’re dead, I bring people back to life! It’s a tribute back to The Princess Bride and Billy Crystal. ‘There’s dead and then there’s just mostly dead.’ Mostly dead is a little alive. So they certainly haven’t ruled that out and I’m open to suggestion.

TTVJ: Would you like to know more about his backstory?
CF: I think that would be cool. They’ve been introducing so many of these characters, just teasing a lot of the possibilities, and I guess they’re going to wait and see which ones they like best. But I would be interested to find out how he got there. That’s the real lynchpin of Gotham, is seeing these people developing towards a story we already think we know the end of.


Gotham continues Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox and CTV.

Do you hope to see more of The Dollmaker? Sound off in the comments below.