Post Mortems

Gotham's Cameron Monaghan Talks About Deadly Twist, His Animated Idol, Losing Sleep Over 'Joker' Role

The following contains spoilers from this week’s episode of Fox’s Gotham.

As Fox’s Gotham drills deeper into Season 2, the DC Comics-based drama is now playing with a slightly less full deck.

In this Monday’s episode, Theo Galavan, Jerome and Barbara put on quite a show for the town, with the latter pair lording over a mayhem-filled magic show at a charity gala. Ultimately, Theo would play the role of “hero” in front of the city’s elite, in part by going off script and plunging a knife into Jerome’s neck.

Here, Shameless star Cameron Monaghan shares the secrets behind his Gotham run, including his main inspiration in playing that joker Jerome, and how the wild role made for many sleepless nights.

TVLINE | First of all, what all did the producers tell you about this character and what they’d want from you, when you were first cast?
When I was first cast, it was for just the one episode in the first season, and they told me that he’s a character involved in the Joker mythos in some way — “He may be the Joker, he may not. But we’re going to have you do the scene.” I immediately said yes, Gotham_Jokerand then I said, “Oh wait, I dont know if I want to touch this,” because this is something extremely near and dear to my heart. Then, towards the close of that season, they asked me to be a part of the second, the idea being that I would get to play around with it even more. Taking that character to new places, to new levels, was something that was extremely exciting to me.

TVLINE | What were you most conscious of doing and not doing as you created Jerome? We hear a little Jack Nicholson in his voice, see a little Heath Ledger in his glower…
I hadn’t specifically tried to draw from the context of any live-action actor. They obviously are extremely, extremely influential to me. As someone who as a kid watched these movies a lot and loved them and admired them, I’m sure they burrowed deep into my subconscious but it’s not something I consciously wanted to do. The only performance I felt at all comfortable with drawing inspiration from was Mark Hamill from the animated series. He’s lived with that character for 20 years and he’s done incredible work with it, and his dynamism is something I really appreciated. Beyond that, it was just reading every major run in the comics involving the character that I could get my hands on, looking at his face, how h’s drawn, and taking what I could from that.

TVLINE | Would you say that Jerome is one unabashedly sick puppy?
[Laughs] Yes, I think you could call him a sick puppy — and he would appreciate it. He would probably thank you. He enjoys killing his humanity, sometimes literally, as when killing his parents and what made him. He is fully committed to an idea of insanity in a way that is almost admirable. It’s completely horrifying, but there’s something strangely charismatic about his passion.

TVLINE | He had that line when he got the briefing from Theo, “You’re singin’ my song.”
Yeah, the Galavan character (played by James Frain) is the first person I think that Jerome has come across that introduces the idea of using the world as Gotham_Season2_Promoa grand stage to perform evil, of not just having small personal acts but taking it to a larger level. Galavan was almost a strange father figure to him, which was a nice turn.

TVLINE | Have you seen the finished episode? What do you make of the closing montage, which evokes Jerome’s father’s premontiion?
Yeah, Jerome even says it to Essen in the second episode, that he’ll “spread across the city like a virus.” That’s the best way to describe his personality, as infectious, in the best and worst ways possible.

TVLINE | What will you miss most about this show?
I’m going to miss playing around with this part, and I’ll miss my fellow actors who are not only phenomenal in front of the camera but are also incredibly lovely people. For a cast full of “villains” and “tough guys,” they were all really sweet and welcoming. I’m not going to miss the many, many sleepless nights that I had with this part.

TVLINE | What exactly made your nights sleepless?
It was a mixture of excitement and intimidation, and the role itself as well. I was in that character’s head space when we were filming, for 15 hours a day, Gotham-Season2-Jerome-Deadso thankfully I had a very patient girlfriend. [Laughs] When I got back home while I was still “on,” she was like, “OK, Cameron, all right…. I got it.”

TVLINE | Because you were so excited to play this role, did you ever circle back with the producers to ask, “Are you sure he’s not the Joker, with a capital J? Are you certain?”
I think he’s the Joker in that he represents the idea, the greater concept. And somewhere, some kid or some person watched [his videos/the news coverage] and it burrowed into their mind, and one day it will snap and take them over. The idea of this person will possess someone completely new. So, I love that idea — something about it really is chilling and excited me when I read the episode.

Want more scoop on Gotham, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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58 Comments
  1. DD says:

    a mistake killing him off he was so incredible

    • 100% agreed. Just when I thought Gotham was getting it’s footing, 2 steps forward 5 back. I’m on the fence now again, Also IMO they’re turning Barbra into Fish Mooney 2.0 and I HATED Fish Mooney so.

      • Lo says:

        I liked him a lot too, but he’s needed elsewhere on Shameless. And I think Barbara is resembling more of a Harley Quinn than Fish. Either way, this season has definitely been better than S1 so far

    • August says:

      I agree completely he was an amazing character. I feel like he captured Joker’s “pure chaos” essence perfectly.

  2. JokerLives says:

    Cameron, I’m really going to miss watching this character. Your performance was outstanding! I just finished watching the episode and feel a sense of loss.

  3. Amanda says:

    I guess we’ll see what happens with the rest of the season, but I think this was a huge mistake. His portrayal of Jerome made the episodes better. He commands the screen and was creepy, manical and brilliant. Shame they couldn’t keep him on longer or at least not kill him so he could come back. Oh Gotham, sometimes I just don’t understand you.

  4. James D says:

    I never thought of Joker as admirable but I see what he’s saying and it’s actually a very interesting thought. pretty insightful guy, I wish him luck he has a boat load of talent. as I said in the recap I saw it coming but I’d hoped they’d milk a few more episodes out first. Shame he was really the best villain they had on the show.

    • I think he was not only the best villain on this show…but one of the best Joker I’ve seen in my life. His death make me not wanna watch the show anymore…he was so right for that role!

  5. He seems way much better than the new movie Joker… A fatal error to kill him off…. sigh

  6. Tiffanie says:

    Count this as the WORST mistake a series has ever made. The most enjoyable character on TV, much less on this show. Boring Jim and Lee, morose Bruce Wayne, and a slipping penguin character… This character was saving the show. Terribly unfortunate. Not sure how long I’ll last at this point. TERRIBLE DECISION!!

  7. Lynne says:

    Easily the reason I binge watched season one on netflix when it got added and why I got into the show was because of Jerome. I know Cameron has Shameless to do right now so he cant be in the entire season, but it was definitely a massive mistake of killing him off in the third episode. Not only was Jerome entertaining, but Cameron’s portrayal was off the charts phenomenal, definitely giving Heath’s Joker a run for his money. Not shamed to say I lost major interest in the show now.

  8. blah says:

    having sleepless nights and taking the work home after only doing 3 episodes.

    I’m glad they killed him off. He did a great performance, but it should never start to filter into someone’s personal life.

    • Lolsterous says:

      That’s what I felt for a moment there. But you never know, after a certain amount of positive feedback, and a bit more time being able to relax into the role from know-how, when it came to being more experienced with the character as he went along, Cameron might of evened off.

      An iconic role such as this, would make anyone nervous to portray, especially in the beginning. But if Cameron were to feel for sure that he would be better off in the endonly playing this role for so long, then so be it.

      I think it was also because he was the first to live action play this character since Heath. Lot of pressure right there. : i But like so many others, I will forever mourn Jerome, and Cameron’s acting as him. REALLY wanted him to be THE Joker. His acting was iconic. : o

  9. they killed him off and that too on my birthday. screw those idiots. you’ll live on forever for us jerome.

    • Lolsterous says:

      Same here. My birthday was on Monday, Oct. 5. Didn’t really care to make such a big deal about it, anyway, but to literally stab a huge love of mine on it, hit me right in the heart. :'( Now I will look back on this past birthday as a remembrance of a huge loss. The couple of days before Monday weren’t all that great, either. But I looked forward to Gotham.

      I also defended this show from the beginning, with strong defiance against those that just didn’t get it. I’ll still stick with it, but I’ll feel a strong sense of loss, and betrayal, as the show moves along now. I also can’t possibly imagine who could play The Joker after Cameron’s perfect performance. :'(

      Sorry to hear how Cameron had a difficult time with the role, but maybe he would have lost the nervous, excitable butterflys, after he got usedto playing the role after a while..

  10. They just destroyed their own show by killing off its most compelling character. He single-handedly carried those 2 episodes. What’s worse is that they made this insanely huge after promoting him so much in that trailer, those promos and sneak peek. I have supported the show right from the beginning. But even i now see a downward spiral, unless they bring him back in some way which looks improbable at this point.

    • Temperance says:

      How’s that? It’s Gotham, not the pseudo!Joker show. I love Cameron in the part he played, and I was really hoping that he wasn’t actually dead, but it is what it is. I’ve watched all the other episodes because the show is great without him. The take was very interesting, and very, very well done (so no slight to the actor in any way; kudos!), but the rest of the show is still better than ever.

      • The show is good and was good without him but putting such an amazing joker-like character in there then killing him off; it will be difficult to fill the void he leaves. It’s like tossing a big name actor into a show then just killing them off, the show will lose some of it’s momentum because of this.

  11. LAB says:

    This is crap – he was freaking INCREDIBLE as The Joker! And I am so judgemental when it comes to Joker actors! He was AMAZING…the only reason I watched the show in the first place! If he is really dead I wont watch it because its just a load of bull without Cameron.They should have given him his own spin off or something – what a waste. So the actual Joker in this series is nothing more than a copy cat? Bad move on the writers behalf. Real bad. Well, ratings will go down now and its their own fault.

    • instantbp says:

      You said it perfectly!! Cameron was an amzaing Joker in the making. I will not be watching now. I didn’t really watch the show before Jerome’s character showed up. The when I Cameron’s performance I become hooked. Now I feel the show will be very boring now without him.

  12. mike says:

    TBH, Jerome was getting a little bit tiresome. His episode in S1 was amazing, spot on even. But it got to a point where he was trying just a little bit to hard. Or possibly over saturation. And Galavan..c’mon, a blind mouse could have seen through that “performance”. At least until he killed Jerry. Still, Jerry is killing people left, right and center, and this guy gets in face and he does nothing? Forgetting the bonk on the head, Puddin would have blown this guys head off.

  13. Ben Kabak says:

    Awful show

  14. Amanda says:

    I will miss seeing Cameron playing The Joker but this was a theory since he was casted that he really is the first of many Jokers and the last Joker will be the one Bruce will face when he becomes Batman. I guess it’s like an unspoken rule in the Batman comics and films that we aren’t really supposed to know the Joker’s backstory, so taken into the context of the show Jerome is the inspiration for the kid who will become The Joker after Bruce becomes Batman. I know get why the writers were always so cagey when asked if Jerome really was The Joker. But I’m actually ok with this as Batman already has so many other villains and we have to see them take on their roles as well. It’s still to early for The Joker to take over as Bruce isn’t Batman yet and Eddie needs to fully become the Ridder, Harvey Dent into TwoFace, and we’re getting Mr. Freeze, Clayface, the Mad Hatter, Fire Bug, and The Flamingo this season besides all the other villains we’ve seen so far so the story has to include all of them as well. No matter what Cameron is Gotham’s first Joker and he will always be one of the best portrayals of The Joker.

    • Derick says:

      Comic readers know the backstory of joker. There were proto jokers created by the Joker, but he was around since the “Start of Gotham” as it was said in the comic. He had a green pool that healed his wounds and allowed him to live forever. He also lived in a cave very similar to batman and had more in common than most think. He only died if he couldn’ make it back to the pool in time after sustaining severe injuries, and most likely the way “Jerome” returns as THE Joker. I love how Jerome is literally from before Batman and the start of everything in Gotham just as the comics stated. He fits too perfectly.

  15. Gerald says:

    I think he did a great job, but when he was first introduced my comic book nerd friends were upset that they were giving the Joker a backstory. He was supposed to be mysterious and not a full fledged villain until Batman came on the scene so I am happy how they are using Jerome to inspire the future Joker. And Future Joker will be a mystery.

    • Temperance says:

      Exactly, it was really clever, and it fit in this world. The real Joker simply can’t exist without a fully realized Batman to balance him. The conceptual approach they took was very, very interesting.

  16. Walkie says:

    People appear to have missed the point. He wasn’t playing the Joker. He was playing the inspiration for who will eventually become the Joker. And it might not just be one person. The Joker might be a collective. I get that doesn’t fit into what people are used to but I think it’s a fascinating approach. How many times do you want to see someone play a retread of the same character?

    • People get it, it’s not like they don’t. We just all thought that Cameron was such a brilliant Joker that removing him from the show hit us hard. It’s the equivalent of having heath ledger play the joker through the first half the the movie then kill him off and have some no name hack play him through the second half. They will not likely find anyone that will not disappoint to play the Joker character. The joker has always had followers so turning the joker into a “collective” isn’t a completely new idea, it’s just watering down the character really badly.

  17. Vaughn says:

    To find someone that good at the joker, and I have high standards for the character , not to mention the best actor on the whole show, I do like Bruce and Alfred too, and Harley Quinn is perfect, and kill him off to be replaced by copycats is quite frankly stupid, some writer ought to be fired! I hope I am wrong and he is brought back, if not you may have lost a fan.

  18. rachelle says:

    Cameron was brilliant as young Joker! What a scene stealer. I’m annoyed that they killed him off so soon. They’ll obviously have to bring in someone else to take over the Joker persona, but I’ll have a hard time imagining a better person for the role until I see him. Time will tell!

  19. instantbp says:

    This is really disheartening. I am not a fan of this The Joker is an “Ideology” spin, they are going with. Jerome was the an amazing Joker in the making. They could have spun the story to have Bruce and Alfred help Jim capture him. In turn having him sent to Arkham until the Batman emerges. Ready to take revenge on the Jim and Bruce. (I mean with what they’ve done to Barbara. Jerome would have worked as The Joker). Anyone to come after this character, will just seem like a copy cat of this his persona. The Joker is no copy cat.

    I think this a an incredible mistake on the part of the creators. Jerome was a scene stealer, and Cameron was the best {live action} take on The Joker character we have seen on the small screen for a while. He made me tune in. Not sure I will continue to watch. Very disappointed with this turn. I don’t like when writers of a show, shocks the viewer just for shock value. Not impressed!

    • RainMerlin says:

      I totally agree that by killing off Cameron’s Joker they may have lost a lot of fans. I am not usually a Joker fan, but Cameron was so brilliant to watch, I couldn’t take my eyes off him! He exhibited all the best qualities of the previous Jokers ( Ledgers sneer, Hamill maniacal laugh, Nicholson playfulness etc.)

      • instantbp says:

        You summed him up perfectly! He really was a scene stealer, and he did embody the great Joker’s of the past. Even Cesar Romero’s portrayal from the 60’s. The way he played Jerome/Joker (No matter what they say. He was Joker lol) was simply infection. You couldn’t help but to want to watch him. I feel the same way. I really believe they have lost some fans over this slip up. On twitter they are still using his picture to promote the show. One can hope that it was just all a trick. Guess time will tell.

  20. Valentina says:

    Mmmm…. But I really loved him as Joker. Sad to see him go off the show
    😕😔

  21. Katie says:

    Omg no please be the joker u r to perfect for this role. He is my fav character and always has been and u are exactly what I wanted. Please bring him back as the joker!!!

  22. Jasmine garner says:

    I just finished watching the first season on Netflix and I liked it. I also goggle and research the characters and they sat the Joker is also known for wearing a red hood. And at the end of the episode with the bank robbers a kid picks up the red mask. So I think that kid will become the Joker and this kid was just like his dad said a curse

  23. Seriously, this guy was an excellent joker. I loved his laugh and his crazy look and smile. Some of the characters I have thought to myself “It’s a unique new take on the character but it’s not really them..” like the penguin for instance. Since when has the penguin been portrayed by a slender gutless metrosexual? As for the ridler, kinda the same thing but filling the role slightly better. But with this guy they didn’t even need to tell you “he’s the joker” it just felt natural like “ya, he’s definitely the joker!” I doubt they will find anyone better to fill the role.

  24. Chris says:

    PLEASE BRING HIM BACK!!! STRONGEST CHARACTER THEY HAD!!!

  25. Jennfier Chapman says:

    Jerome Valeska must rise as THE JOKER! I will not accept any copycats after Jerome. That’s ridiculous, Cameron is brilliant! #BringBackJerome

  26. gail says:

    Cameron needs 2 b the JOKER! He is the JOKER of Gotham….He is an amazing actor…They need 2 bring him back with the twist that he really isn’t dead…Bring JOKER Cameron back…

  27. Willow says:

    You were the Best live action joker ever and I hope you may get the roll again one day! I was totally heart broken your joker roll was rather sort lived and not to become the guy in green hair.

  28. Every time I saw a scene with Jim or Harvey I was like, I don’t care about you I wanna see Jerome or Selina or Bruce

  29. Anna says:

    He played this role so good it will be very hard to imagine someone playing a better joker than him.

  30. angiebites says:

    I think they underestimated the charismatic, great acting of the actor playing this part. He stole the show! This kid is an awesome actor and totally makes every role he takes his b-word. :D I’m a fan

  31. Nancy Wagner says:

    Why did you have to kill him off??? Why?? Theo is so boring. Dont really care anything about him. Penguin is interesting, but Jerome was the star! Hope its not a fatal error for the show!! Im a new fan this season. Started watching the reruns during the summer. Jeromes laugh was so creepy, insane, and so good. What were the producers thinking killing him off and making Theo one of the main characters?? Its just wrong! Besides, Theo is nothing to look at, no offense to the actor, but he is so blahhhhh!

  32. Onechoctawgirl says:

    I was so, so, so unhappy when they killed off Jerome! I don’t want their to be another version of the Joker later on. He was perfect! I was loving this season because Penguin is already brilliant, and I was so excited to see that yet again they hit the nail on the head! Why would they get rid of such an awesome portrayal of a classic Batman villain?!?!? I usually am not crazy about characters being “brought back from the dead” but I will make an exception for him. They have to bring him back with THAT actor playing him. End of story. Wish I knew how to write into Fox and tell them this…

  33. Pam says:

    What a mistake killing off this character

  34. Chris says:

    Once he started to do some really outrageous things, I knew he wasn’t the Joker. It evolved into too much too quickly. Jerome was Gordon’s villain, not Bruce’s. So, I expected for Jerome to be betrayed and killed in the episode that it happened. I thought sometimes he was overacting, but other times, he was just brilliant. The fact that he channeled Mark Hamil was amazing. Mark will always be THE JOKER to me. It had to happen, guys. Just a fact.

    Great arc though.

  35. Fubster3000 says:

    I agree with most of the comments so far, killing off Jarome for me has killed the show. I have always been a massive fan of Jack Nicholson’s Joker from the first Batman film and although there have been some very good actors also play this role, never I I personally felt that anyone of them captured the true nature or intent of the character like Cameron has !!! You only have to see the expression on his face and you know he was born to play that role. To the writers of Gotham you have made a massive mistake removing Jaromes character and you have lost one of the greatest actors of that role you could have ever hoped for !!!!!!
    Cameron please if you are asked to return please do because you stole the show and the admiration of DC fans across the globe !!!

  36. Mario says:

    When I’ve watched Jerome character in the interrogation room during season 1, my reaction was Oh my god! He is the joker! Even there was no mention of the joker, and some other characters might fill that role.

    I do not know what the writers idea would be to develop the joker character, and I understand that Cameron is needed somewhere else. But Cameron’s performance was so skyrocket that it will be very difficult to fill that gap. I still hope that Jerome is still alive (after all it was a magic performance) and see him again.

    However, maybe it was a too strong character for a low-life gangster, who climb the ladder to the top, as it was expected for the ‘real ‘ joker development. In a similar way as the penguin did. Who by the way, it is also an excellent performance.

  37. August says:

    I would much rather have had Jerome kill Galavan rather than the other way around so we could get more Jerome and skip the boring “Cult of Dumas” storyline.

  38. HowlynMad says:

    The idea that the Joker is a virus is asinine. Cameron did a great job and if the producers are smart ill have Hugo Strange ressurect him for next season. While I don’t think Jerome is a good fit for a regular cast member villain (he’s just too strong a character) for a story arc during a season he would bring the wow factor.