As the villains continue their rise to the top of Gotham City’s hierarchy, one woman is stepping up the torture and mayhem factor: Tabitha Galavan. I spoke exclusively with Gotham‘s Jessica Lucas, who is playing the villainous Tabitha Galavan. She told us a bit about bringing the character to life, Tabitha living in the shadow of her brother, Theo, and becoming Tigress, among other things. Read our full conversation below, and watch her on Gotham, Monday nights on CTV in Canada and FOX in the US.
I have been loving you on Gotham. It’s just such a delicious little role.
Isn’t it great?
Yes! With such a large ensemble cast and so many great characters, it’s hard to spend time with each of them. Will there be an opportunity for the audience to learn more about Tabitha anytime soon?
I think so. You’re going to have to wait and be patient though because her story has a lot to do with being in her brother’s shadow, and having him be at the forefront. Once that subsides, then she will be her own independent person, and we’ll get to know a little bit more about how she becomes Tigress.
Everyone who knows Theo’s true nature seems to be really scared of him, but when I look at the two characters, I think Tabitha frightens me a little more.
She’s a violent one. She’s horribly violent, and has all the weapons.
I don’t think she’d hesitate to take out her brother if necessary.
Maybe. I think you should definitely be more scared of her. She’s a strong, silent type. She is the schemer and the master manipulator and the enforcer.
There’s somewhat of a rivalry between Theo and Tabitha over Barbara. I can’t quite tell if Tabitha is just trying to beat her brother at a game, or if she’s actually capable of caring about, or even loving someone.
I don’t know. That’s a good question. At the moment they’re very much using Barbara as a toy to mess with each other. Also, I often think of Tabitha as this lonely person who really only spends time with her brother locked in this penthouse. Barbara coming in was exciting for her because here’s another female that she can teach some things, and someone to be around that isn’t her brother. I’ve always looked at it from that perspective, but I think ultimately on the show you’ll mostly see them using Barbara as a tool, a manipulation device.
Which of the villains — or the super villains as they’re being called this season — would you, as Jessica, say could possibly be a real threat to Tabitha?
I don’t know if anybody exists like that for her yet. She doesn’t really meet her match, but she might in the future. There’s certainly some more villains that are going to be introduced further down the line, like Mr. Freeze and Hugo Strange, but for now she is supposed to be very dominant. [Theo and Tabitha] are the prevalent force in Gotham at the moment, nobody can really come up against them or stop them.
Speaking of being dominant, we know that Tigress/Tabitha is known for her whip wielding skills. This is probably the most physically challenging role you’ve played to date. Are you enjoying that aspect of it, that physicality?
Yes, it’s definitely the most physically challenging. There’s usually something every episode stunt-wise that I have to do. The guns are probably the easiest thing to use, and the whip is the hardest. I just shot a really intense fight sequence that used almost every weapon in her arsenal and that was really, really hard, but really challenging in a good way.
Playing such a physical role often comes with the risk of some war wounds or injury stories. Have you been lucky so far?
I have been, knock on wood. I definitely walked away from the last [episode that I filmed] with some bruises, but that’s about it. Bruises are as bad as it’s got so far. Other people on set have hurt themselves though, but hopefully that won’t happen to me.
There’s also a darker mindset that you have to step into when playing a role like this. Do you find that it takes a little bit longer to shed this role at the end of the day? Is there anything specifically that you have to do to kind of push her away and just be you once you’ve wrapped?
Not necessarily. I’m pretty good at switching it on and off. I also happen to be in New York, away from all of my loved ones so that’s helpful. I can spend a lot of time in my own world. It would be harder if I had to come home every day and be in a chipper mood or head space, but I don’t feel a responsibility to anyone to be anything other than developing this role at the moment.
How much did you know about the world of Gotham and Batman before you came in to this role?
I was a fan of the Joel Schumacher and Tim Burton movies. I absolutely loved Batman Returns. I loved Michelle Pfeiffer in the role of Catwoman. And I’ve seen all of the Christopher Nolan movies. Batman was my favorite superhero, but [the films are] about as much as I knew. I never read the comics or anything else.
You mentioned Catwoman. I understand that on Gotham, Tabitha and Selina Kyle/Cat are going to form a relationship, with Tabitha as a mentor to Selina. Fans were very excited when that info was dropped. What are you able to tease about these two “cats” coming together?
That is as much of a tease as can be given at the moment. We haven’t really delved in to that relationship in what we’re shooting so far. There’s not much that I can tell you, but I do think that some of Tabitha and the way that she looks are very much a nod to old school Catwoman. I drew a lot of my personal inspirations for Tabitha and Tigress out of Catwoman. There’ll be some of that in there.
Perhaps their loneliness brings them together?
Selina Kyle is an orphan, and I want to tell you so much more, but I don’t know how to talk to you about that bond without spoiling things. It’ll be in the second half of the season, not probably until the new year.
We’ll have to talk again at some point because I can’t wait to learn more about this story! Before we wrap, I wanted to get your thoughts on female roles in genre TV. One of the reasons I love these stories is because so many of the female characters are on equal footing with the male characters. Is that part of the appeal for you in playing a role like Tabitha?
Yes, absolutely. Some of the strongest female characters you come across exist in the comic book world, and I love that Tabitha is the enforcer. I think that that’s so rare. She’s a strong, independent woman who you don’t want to mess with. That was absolutely the draw for me.
I’m really excited to learn more about Tabitha and see more of you in action because this is so different from anything that I’ve seen you in.
I’m excited for you to see more. There’s lots more to come.
Photo Courtesy of FOX