Not even death can keep Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) out of the game on Gotham.
After Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) pushed the crime lord off the roof of a building into the lake below in his bid to become the King of Gotham, Fish Mooney has been presumed dead. And that’s because she was … until Professor Hugo Strange (B. D. Wong) got his hands on her corpse. The shady scientist, busy working underneath Arkham Asylum in the secret Indian Hill facility to try and reanimate the dead, finally achieved success in reanimation with Theo Galavan (James Frain), although he didn’t come back to life as Theo. He couldn’t remember his past life, and so Strange gave him a new identity. And Strange’s next project/victim? Fish Mooney.
“I’ve missed playing her,” Smith tells Nerdist of returning to Gotham for the first time since the season one finale. “She’s one of my favorite characters to play. I’m so happy to be back.”
When Smith first announced that she was exiting Gotham near the end of season one, she had no idea she’d be back less than a year later.
“I pretty much thought Fish was done,” Smith says with a laugh. “I got a call about midseason, maybe a little later than that. [Executive producer] Bruno [Heller] called me up and said, ‘I think I found a way to bring you back.’ I was like, ‘Really?!’ We met up and he told me his idea and I was like, ‘Okay. I’m down for that. I’m down for that one.’ I just love that character and I love playing her. She’s the most fun I’ve had onscreen in years. It’s a real blessing for me to do it again.”
Smith credits Heller and all the writers for the story behind Fish Mooney’s resurrection.
“I wasn’t involved in [the creative process] at all,” Smith says. “I had no idea that she would even be returning so that was all Bruno and the brilliant writing staff that we have. He basically just gave me the overall idea of her being resurrected, who was going to resurrect her, and the fact that she was going to come back as the 2.0 version of Fish Mooney.”
Yeah, if that sounds ominous to you, go with your gut feeling.
“If you thought Fish Mooney was kickass before … ” Smith says before bursting out laughing. “I don’t know what Penguin’s going to do with her now. I have no idea what he’s going to be able to do with her at this point. I can’t wait for people to see Fish’s new improvements, what she’s come back with. I can’t wait to see what people think about that. It made me very excited thinking about what the character will be able to do now and what kind of havoc she’ll be able to create as this new version of herself.”
But what surprised Smith the most about her big return to Gotham actually had nothing to do with the storyline.
“I was just happy that so many fans and so many people were so excited that Fish was returning,” Smith says. “I’ve really loved this particular genre and I love the fans that come with this genre. They’re so enthusiastic and they’re so much fun. It was fantastic on the street, or even going around to do press, because I’ve had so many people come up to me saying, ‘Oh my god, I’m so glad Fish is coming back!’ It’s a lot of fun for me when I can see that people are actually watching the show and having such a good time and looking forward to having a journey with Fish again.”
She continues, “That really did surprise me, because I had no idea they would bring Fish back. I thought that once she went over that wall, that was it. I actually had a bit of a mourning period. I kept my Fish Mooney nails for a long, long time. I was not willing to let her go! So finally, when I took her nails off, I finally felt like, ‘God, I may really never see her again.’ So when I got the call that they were going to bring Fish back, I was just as excited as the fans are.”
While Professor Strange’s other projects haven’t been able to retain their memories or minds after coming back from the dead, Fish Mooney is going to be a much different breed. “I don’t want to give too much away, but she is Fish Mooney on steroids. She really is the 2.0 version,” Smith says. “She comes back new and improved. She’s different in an extraordinary way.”Because she didn’t have to play an entirely new character like Frain had to, that made her return all the more thrilling for Smith from an acting point of view. “I was glad that there were still pieces of the Fish that we knew before,” Smith says. “That’s all still a part of her personality in the 2.0 version. And the costume she wears … it’s so cool. You’ll see the significance of the costume once you start to realize her new improvement. There’s meaning behind the costume. It’s really interesting.”
Seeing as how Fish has more than a few enemies outside of Indian Hill (to say the least), will viewers ever get to see her outside of the lab to come face-to-face with people like Penguin and Butch (Drew Powell)?
“You’ve got to stay tuned to see that one,” Smith says. “You’ll definitely see her come upon some people that she had beef with, for sure.”
As for how many episodes Smith will appear in this season, or even if she would continue to guest star next season, this is the only thing she could say: “You’ll probably get a good idea after you see the finale of what’s going down. [The finale] is pretty epic. There’s definitely a lot of action. The ending will definitely keep people on the edge of their seats for sure.”
Returning to a TV show’s set after so much time away could have been a tough experience for an actor, but according to Smith, “it was definitely like getting back on bike.”
“It was like as if I never left. It was like I went away on vacation and returned,” Smith says with a laugh. “We still have a lot of the same crew and of course a lot of the same cast members, so it was if I hadn’t gone anywhere. I mean, I still had my same room! It was really awesome. It was such a pleasure to get to see everybody.”
As for new characters like Professor Strange, Smith couldn’t wait to share scenes with him.
“It was fantastic,” Smith says. “They’re all such fantastic actors. They are top line. To be able to come back and work with that caliber of talent was a lot of fun. Professor Strange is really something else. He’s awesome.”
Are you excited to see Fish Mooney back from the dead on Gotham? Tweet me your thoughts at @SydneyBucksbaum!
Gotham airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.