Gotham finally returns on Monday, April 13, with the introduction of its newest villain “The Ogre.” While the original DC Comic Batman villain is a genetically altered man with an ape for a brother, the new, television version depicts him as a suave, seductive serial killer, searching for his “perfect” mate.
Milo Ventimiglio (Heroes, Chosen) guest starsin a four-episode story arc as Jason “The Ogre” Lennon, Gotham’s dirty little secret who has seeped out of the shadows. Ventimiglio took time out of his busy schedule to chat with journalists about the role and his take on the re-emergence of this villain.
Like many Gotham viewers, Ventimiglio grew up a fan of the Batman comic books, and recalled how his father would take him to the comic book shop every Wednesday for the latest issue. One of the things he loves about Batman in particular, more than other superheroes, is that he is an ordinary man, not an alien from another planet.or someone with superpowers. Bruce Wayne uses his intellect and natural strength, and is a, “bit of a vigilante, who saw [people] that were caught up in a horrible society, crime-filled society.”
The actor is a fan of the show, and a friends of several connected to the series, including star Ben McKenzie (Det. Jim Gordon), so he was thrilled to get the call to play the villainous role.
Ventimiglio characterized Lennon as a guy just looking for love though “he’s mentally off, his outlook skewed.” He described how Lennon uses the world to his advantage, and is so selfish, he believes he can do whatever he wants, to whomever he wants. In his quest for the perfect mate, “this unconditional love Jason is looking for, he wants to actually own every thought and part of a woman he can, so [she is] entrusted and enslaved.” Although Lennon’s methods may be massively extreme, the character’s initial motive isn’t to kill. It’s not an act to lure them in. He just wants to find that special kind of love like most people do. Unfortunately he kidnaps them, sometimes for months, and once he realizes it’s not a match made in heaven, he’s already taken things too far. “Killing is a by-product of things not working out.”
In preparing for the role, Ventimiglio researched several real cases involving serial killers and interestingly, Ted Bundy stuck with him, mainly because Bundy’s had also been perceived as charming and engaging by his his victims. Much like Bundy, Lennon easily draws in his prey with his charismatic, enticing, appealing personality.
The writing team has been phenomenal this season, as each storyline has been woven to bring the back stories of these iconic characters to life. Ventimiglio had nothing but good things to say about Gotham’s creative team. With such amazing material, he noted, the scripts have allowed him to follow his instincts in creating the character. He was able to tap into Lennon’s own history to better understand him, and his murderous method of finding a mate. “He is a man affected by things that happened to him earlier,” Ventimiglio explained.
Lennon is “charming without being arrogant.” He can’t see beyond himself, and what he imposes on these women in his quest to find unconditional love. Although the character is very complex and dark, Ventimiglio feels it is important to show the humanity within the monster. While searching for his “soulmate” seems romantic, for Lennon it’s ultimately about wielding power, bending someone to his will–mind, body and soul.
In my opinion, although there are several incredible actors on Gotham, Oswald Cobblepot (aka the Penguin, played by the riveting Robin Taylor Lord) steals the show week after week. So I wasn’t too surprised to hear Ventimiglio would love to have the Ogre team up with him or Edward Nygma (aka Riddler, played by Corey Michael Smith). Can you imagine the havoc they’d cause?
On a show like Gotham, I imagine coming in as a new character might be very intimidating, especially stacked up against such infamous villains as the Penguin, Joker, Riddler and Cat Woman. Ventimiglio hopes, that while The Ogre isn’t as familiar as some of the more famous in group, the character will be interesting enough for the audience to deem him worthy. “With [what] the writers have created, and what I’ve been able to do with the creative team on set, hopefully fans will enjoy it and say wow, the Ogre is as badass as the Penguin, Joker or Riddler.”
According to the actor, the toughest scene to get through was the first one. “[It] is the hardest because you’re on set with a bunch of new people trying to learn everyone’s name.” Luckily he quickly adapted and really enjoyed working with the entire cast and crew. “This cast and crew on Gotham is the best and [there was] a lot of laughter and fun had,” added Ventimiglio.
If you’re like me, you’re on social media platforms tweeting and posting while watching the show. Is Ventimiglio ready for the instant feedback that will undoubtably follow him? He explained that although some will love what he’s doing, and some will hate it, no matter what the feedback, he feels really good about the work he’s done thus far. He believes that in the end, fans will like what they’ve put together. “I think they’ll hopefully enjoy this version of [The Ogre]. He’s smoother, a lot more charming, but then flips on a dime and is evil, evil, evil!”
So what can he tease about the unfortunate meeting between Lennon and Gordon’s ex-girlfriend Barbara Keen (Erin Richards)? Apparently they get cozy after he meets her at a bar. Of course, Gordon still cares about Keen, and as the he continues to investigate Lennon, with the villain use her to get the detective to back off?
Although Lennon has effectively neutralized law enforcement by threatening to kill any cops (or their loved ones) should they come after him, Gordon has refused to be manipulated by the serial killer, and boldly continues his investigation. Will Gordon’s current girlfriend Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarain) become Lennon’s next victim?
Can The Ogre be stopped? Will other villains of Gotham be affected? Meanwhile, Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) continues her plans to escape the Dollmaker’s island from Hell and Bruce (David Mazouz) and Selina (Camren Bicondova) team up to get the truth out of Reggie (David O’Hara).
It’s all leading to the season one finale, so don’t miss a minute of the last four episodes of the season, beginning with “Beasts of Prey” Monday, April 13 at 8 p.m. on FOX!
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