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
whatís 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 heís persistent, heís calm. Heís 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, ďIf Iíve gotta do it, and itís 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.Ē Thatís 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 doesnít matter in voice acting, but does that age similarity help increase the bond between actor and character?
DS: What are you saying? (laughs) That Iíve been playing this game for 50 years? (laughs harder) Well, I guess thatís true. You know the frustrations, the thinking of ďOkay, Iíve got a few years to go, and thereís still ONE thing I want to do.Ē Maybe I want to play Macbeth. I donít know. Thereís definitely some parallels. Really, though, itís the whole life experience Ė thatís the thing that ties me to Gordon. Having been around and seen what weíve seen. I understand his frustrations. My God, all you have to do is pick up a bloody newspaper. Itís 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 youíre willing to go for success. Now if youíre battling the Mutants, you can go a long way. You can step over that line, as long as you know why youíre doing it. Thatís my little take on that.
Your son is a Frank Miller fan. Do you have newfound street cred in the family?
DS: You canít imagine. My son-in-law is a big fan, too. Iím in like flint now. I couldnít have done better than to be able to make that call. ďDo you know Dark Knight?Ē ďWhat do you mean, do I know Dark Knight? Who do you think youíre talking to?Ē ďWell, Iím playing the Commissioner.Ē ďYouíre playing James Gordon? Youíre playing Gordon?!? Commissioner Gordon?!?!?Ē I never mentioned the Gordonís name. (laughs) I just said the Commissioner. Oh my God. How special is that? I like that.