THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, PART 1 - David Selby Talks "Commissioner Gordon"
Posted by: Bill "Jett" Ramey
September 14, 2012

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Having made his mark as a villain for many of his 45 years in the entertainment industry, David Selby is only too happy to provide the heroic voice of Commissioner James Gordon in BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, Part 1. Finally, Selby gets a beloved protagonist turn as the everyman hero James Gordon, a straight-shooting, intelligent lawman bent on doing what’s right. With, of course, the help of his old pal, Bruce Wayne (and his alter ego, The Batman)...

Having spent several hours in his mind, how do you see Police Commissioner James Gordon in this film?

DAVID SELBY: Because Bruce Wayne is The Batman, and even though we all want to be heroes, Gordon is willing to take a quieter, more backseat role. I think he’s persistent, he’s calm. He’s a very practical man, like certain presidents. Lincoln was a very pragmatic guy, and I think Gordon is a very pragmatic commissioner.

Gordon is the type of guy that would think, “If I’ve gotta do it, and it’s going to make it right, and I look out and I know that my wife is going to be fine, and the children are going to be fine, then if a certain kind of justice is required to do this, I can live with it.” That’s my kind of Gordon: A very strong, practical guy.

In this film, James Gordon is 70 years old and about to retire. David Selby is now 70 years old. Usually it doesn’t matter in voice acting, but does that age similarity help increase the bond between actor and character?

DS: What are you saying? (laughs) That I’ve been playing this game for 50 years? (laughs harder) Well, I guess that’s true. You know the frustrations, the thinking of “Okay, I’ve got a few years to go, and there’s still ONE thing I want to do.” Maybe I want to play Macbeth. I don’t know. There’s definitely some parallels. Really, though, it’s the whole life experience – that’s the thing that ties me to Gordon. Having been around and seen what we’ve seen. I understand his frustrations. My God, all you have to do is pick up a bloody newspaper. It’s hard to not get frustrated. Sometimes the best thing to do is to avoid the paper in the morning.

Was there a centering emotion you used in James Gordon to help you focus on his motivations?

DS: For Gordon, what he wants to do more than anything in the world is that he wants to leave the world a little better place than when he came into it. And he thinks of how awful it would be to live your life and not be able to do that.

I like Gordon. Sometimes you have to draw the line in the sand, the morality line, and each of us has to decide how far you’re willing to go for success. Now if you’re battling the Mutants, you can go a long way. You can step over that line, as long as you know why you’re doing it. That’s my little take on that.

Your son is a Frank Miller fan. Do you have newfound street cred in the family?

DS: You can’t imagine. My son-in-law is a big fan, too. I’m in like flint now. I couldn’t have done better than to be able to make that call. “Do you know Dark Knight?” “What do you mean, do I know Dark Knight? Who do you think you’re talking to?” “Well, I’m playing the Commissioner.” “You’re playing James Gordon? You’re playing Gordon?!? Commissioner Gordon?!?!?” I never mentioned the Gordon’s name. (laughs) I just said the Commissioner. Oh my God. How special is that? I like that.

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