‘Pennyworth’ Hero Jack Bannon Talks That Explosive Season 1 Finale
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Pennyworth Season 1 finale, “Marianne Faithfull.”]
Pennyworth just blew the hell out of its first season with a finale shocker that is sure to play out in a big way, should the show be picked for a second season: Having finally brought fiancée Esme’s killer to justice, the swingin’ 60s mod god (Jack Bannon) literally saved the Queen from his own father (Ian Puleston-Davies), who had used his butler-ing gig to infiltrate a royal dinner and blow it up in the name of the Raven Society.
Turns out, the faction had a backup plan to take over the government after their short-lived coup and it involved a lot of C-4. Unfortunately, Alfie was unable to get through to Papa Pennyworth and things went up in smoke faster than you can say “Hey Epix, let’s renew this bad boy and pronto!”
Almost a year after we visited the set during production in Leavesden, London, we checked back in with Bannon to see how he felt about the first season, what we might see coming up, and when he realized that Alfred’s hit list would include his own blood.
Congratulations on the season!
Jack Bannon: Thank you very much. It’s so strange. It premiered and now it’s already the finale. A lot happened didn’t it?
I’m a little heartbroken for Alfred. When did you find out that was how it was going to end?
I saw [a show bible] when we were shooting the pilot. So there was some stuff that I knew, but then as [show creator] Bruno Heller was writing it, he really went to town and sort of went off script. So I think it was about midway through filming [when] they told me about Dad and all of that business. It was all a bit tricky because I think Ian is so good and is such a good energy to have around. Originally they were just going to kill him and that was it, but I think it’s a bit ambiguous now. So, who knows?
So maybe he survived. Maybe this pushes him into an even darker place?
Yeah, never say no. [Laughs]
Have there been any discussions of what kind of fallout Alfred will have to deal with after this?
[Laughs] They told me very little. I saw Bruno the other day and he said, “You know, if you’ve got any ideas for Season 2, let us know!” It’s not confirmed yet that we’re [renewed], but they’re already in the process of thinking about it. So yeah, they’ve told me very little really. I’m excited to see what happens.
Were you thrown by the fact that he’s basically now also the Queen’s boy toy?
That was weird. [Laughs] I think that was something that they added in the last minute, but I thought that was quite hilarious. Only in the world of Pennyworth would that have happened.
A lot of viewers were thrown by the fact that Alfred gave in and killed a few people this season. How do you feel about that?
He’s a very moralistic guy and you can’t get away from the fact that he knows how to kill. That’s what he’s been trained how to do. He doesn’t want to do it and I don’t think he would have done it unless Esme’s murder happened. That really flipped a switch in him and he was able to enter soldier mode if you’d like and put aside almost his own morals to get to the answer that he needs. When he blows Curzon’s head off, you see him go and spiral from there. But there was stuff originally in the scripts where he killed a couple of policemen to get out of the restaurant and stuff like that, and I went to the writers and said, “I think that’s crossing the line” because, you know, Alfred is obviously an army guy himself and they’re the establishment and I feel like if you start killing policemen…it’s one thing to kill a bloke that he doesn’t know, he can switch off, he can enter soldier mode. It’s another thing to cross that line and do something like that. So, even though, obviously killing people is bad…
Yes, we’re not endorsing that.
[Laughs] Yes, please don’t do that, but I feel like he still retains an element of that moralistic code.
Now that the season is wrapped, what do you think about Alfred after playing him this year?
It’s been incredible. You know, back when you came to set, we were still trying to figure out who he was. Now, it’s been about four months since we finished and I’ve been around the world talking about him, but I haven’t played him for a long time. But certainly towards the end of the season, he was a bit of me and I was a bit of him. We really kind of merged and I’m proud of this creation of Alfred from his infancy. From how he talks and walks to the places Bruno took the story nobody could imagine. I felt entirely comfortable in him by the end and I’m excited to see what else happens.
It’s interesting the way they’ve positioned Alfred to have to deal with some real father issues, which echoes how he will eventually help young Bruce Wayne and his father issues.
Yeah, exactly. Bruno’s so clever…the way Alfred ends up in the finale, the last image of him is him in a butler suit. So he’s in disguise coming out of this explosion, having rescued the Queen—and I never felt like we were trying to get to that point in this season because that life is years away—so even though he’s not a butler yet, it was just such an image to end on. And I think the season’s been fantastic because there have been so many moments where you go, “Ah, that’s how he knows that” when you’re thinking of older incarnations telling Bruce something like that. And I think we should continue to fill in those gaps.
And the stuff that you did with Ben Aldridge was so fun to watch. I love that Alfred and Thomas Wayne didn’t end the season as friends.
We told you, right? We were like, “If everyone’s waiting for this kind of buddy-buddy thing then [hold on]. It’s not going to be quite that simple. That as well, I’m very excited to see. I hope we get more screen time together, because he’s a brilliant, brilliant actor and has become a great friend.
You said that Bruno Heller had some ideas for next season? Did he actually tell you any?
All he said was…well, when we were in LA we went to some karaoke place and he joked, “I’m going to get Alfred singing and dancing.” And I said there’s no way! Ben Aldridge is quite a good singer, so I’m secretly jockeying for a Thomas Wayne performance at the nightclub, maybe some cabaret number? And Bruno just asked me, “What you’ve been doing in your spare time?” And I said I had been playing football. So he asked, “All right, can you keep the ball in the air? Maybe we’ll see a scene of Alfred in the backyard kicking a football around.” [Laughs]
What else have you doing with your down time? Other than football and promoting the show?
Promoting the show’s been taking up a fair bit of time! [Laughs] But I’m enjoying being in London. The States were fantastic, but it was great to come home and I’ve had a couple of holidays. I’m looking for the next move really. I’d like to do a little movie or something. But I’m, waiting to hear about Season 2, which is looking good, and then I suppose we’ll go from there really.
Pennyworth is now available for streaming on the EPIX NOW app.