Gotham Reveal: Jerome Wasn't Joking Around

Damian Holbrook
Cameron Monaghan - Gotham
Nicole Rivelli/FOX

So much death. So much chaos. So much for Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) being the pre-canon Joker.

In Monday's jaw-dropping episode of Gotham, the psycho we loved to love met his maker when Maniax ringleader Theo Galavan (James Frain) fatally double-crossed his red-headed minion during their staged siege at a Gotham charity shindig. Introduced on the Fox drama last season as a carnival kid who offed his own mother, the chronically amused Jerome had since been pegged as the killer most likely to become the Clown Prince of Crime. Of course, this being Gotham, nothing is as it seems, and now it seems that we've seen the last of this one. We spoke with Monaghan, who is currently shooting his seventh season as Shameless' Ian Gallagher, from the Showtime dramedy's Chicago set—and from the sounds of it, the laughter has officially died for poor Jerome.

We're still shocked that this happened! When did you know that Jerome was going to be killed off?
I knew from before we started this season what the plan was for these three episodes, so I was able to kind of plan accordingly where the beats we wanted to hit were in each episode.

How did the producers originally explain this guy?
They came to me and said 'Hey, there is this part that is tied to the Joker mythos, he could be the Joker, would you like to do it?' I said yes immediately and then thought actually, maybe not, I have to think about this! Then I read the script and decided that I really wanted to be a part of it…initially I didn’t even know I was going to be doing more than just one scene. So this has been a privilege and a surprise.

Jerome-Valeska-Gotham

Jerome was a hoot, but also a total monster. Were there any Batman properties that inspired your performance?
I was a huge fan of Batman: The Animated Series and Mark Hamill has done such incredible stuff with the character of the Joker. How he played the part was something that I felt was important, so I paid specific attention to that one. And obviously, the touchstone of the Joker story is the [comic-book storyline] The Killing Joke.

When did they decide Jerome would not actually be the Joker?
I think they had this game plan for a while. But that is a very strict definition of it “not" being him. Because what we’re trying to establish is this ideology, this idea of this pervasive nature of his insanity and how it is something that can spread. Like a virus.

Hence the closing scene with everyone laughing after his death. Taking on a role that  was even Joker-adjacent had to be daunting.
Oh yeah. It absolutely was. I am a huge Batman fan, I grew up reading the comics and watching the movies and the animated series. The character is one of the greatest villains in modern fiction. He’s incredible [and] he’s been played by some of the best actors of the past generations. So yeah, it was incredibly daunting to step anywhere close to the character. At the same time, it’s been so exciting.

So, if it is in fact Jerome’s insanity that infects whomever may go on to become the actual Joker, do you think another actor could end up emulating your performance?
I don’t know! Who knows where they’re going to go with this? I don’t, but I am sure they have some ideas. Maybe it will be someone we have met before. Or somebody we thought we knew. I don’t know. [Laughs]