Simon Manyonda Talks Bringing Lucious Fox to the World of ‘Pennyworth’ (VIDEO)
Pennyworth‘s fabulously inventive second season returns from its mid-season break Sunday, March 7, to continue tweaking the Batman canon with its hyper-stylized origin story about the Wayne’s future butler (Jack Bannon). So far, our British Army hero has been mostly caught up in a twisty scheme with his former Captain (James Purefoy) to score enough cash to flee to America, while CIA agent Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge) has been working to bring down corrupt Lord Harwood (Jason Flemyng), whose Raven Union has taken control of London.
He better do it fast. As fans saw in the mid-season finale, Harwood’s team of scientists has developed a biochemical weapon known as Stormcloud that’s capable of wiping out the resistance — and pretty much anyone in the surrounding area — with a single strike. Thankfully, Thomas has an inside man reporting back to him: One Lucious Fox (Simon Manyonda), a longtime staple of the Batman universe previously played by Chris Chalk on Gotham and Morgan Freeman in the Dark Knight film trilogy. The character’s son Luke (Camrus Johnson) is a key player on Batwoman.
This version, however, is wildly different from the ones who have come before him, yet according to Manyonda, the events of Pennyworth definitely play a role in creating the man best known as Bruce Wayne’s top tech guy. Here, the theater-trained alum of His Dark Materials and The Bay explains why Lucious has an affinity for a certain style of weaponry and where he stands on the future of the Wayne family.
Ok, so this character has always been cool, but I really loved the twist they threw us in your first episode.
Simon Manyonda: Him being a CIA agent? Yeah, that’s so cool.
How well-versed were in you in the whole Batman world?
Well, I was not a comic-book fan, but I’ve always loved Batman. I used to watch the “Na na na na na Batmaaaan” with my mum. And I remember the Saturday morning I saw Batman: The Animated Series and was blown away. And I was sort of aware of the Batman movies, the Tim Burton ones, but I thought that was a work for adults, you know? That was a kind of Batman that was kept away from me.
What new stuff do we learn about this version of Lucious going forward?
He’s obsessed with cheeseburgers, it’s his favorite food. [Laughs] But on a serious note, we learned about why he makes non-lethal weapons. You know, Batman is a violent man. He’s a vigilante. Lucious could have invented lethal weapons for him, but he doesn’t, and I think that the catalyst for that is the Stormcloud incident and in how he was a CIA plant [who had to] help with the Stormcloud effort. He didn’t know what he was going to be involved in.
Then we see him witness it and he’s absolutely horrified. He needs to absolve himself and that’s his journey up to the point that we meet the Lucius Fox who is Batwing. Now I have read a number of comics, and when we meet him as Batwing in the comics or see him in the Christopher Nolan world or even in animated series, he’s there doing that because he needs to find a way to use this intelligence and his science talents for good.
He’s pretty much stuck working undercover in the Raven Union headquarters. Will we see him join Thomas and the rest of the crew?
Oh yeah, I mean, in episodes six, seven and eight I spent loads of time with Thomas. It’s only in episodes four and five that he’s alone because he’s a spy, essentially. [Laughs]
And what’s his dynamic with Thomas? How long have they known each other?
They do not know each other. You will see them meeting for the first time and it’s very intense. Lucius really chews them out for the actions of the Raven Union. And Thomas is quite a bit slow on the uptake in terms of going, “OK, we need to go and do something.” He’s more like “No, CIA knows what they’re doing.” But then they really get into sync with each other and it’s quite nice. A fan of the comics has watched it and he said it really felt like our two characters really bounce off each other really nicely.
What about Martha (Emma Paetz)? Because she’s not always in sync with Thomas either.
[Laughs] I think Lucious quite likes Martha because she really has Thomas’ number, you know? She doesn’t take any nonsense from him. Also, Lucious has got a soft spot for love, for romance. he enjoys it. And according to the comic books, as well from some research that I did, you know, Lucius…he’s a fan of that relationship.
And have seen Lucious’s son in action on Batwoman?
I have not seen Batwoman. Is it worth watching?
Oh yeah, this second season in particular has been so great. The character of Luke Fox is fantastic and the actor who plays him, Camrus Johnson, is so great. Plus, it’s kind of cool to see the father in this Pennyworth world and then his son in a very different stylized world on The CW.
Then I might hit him up on Instagram. Yeah, I’ll do that for sure.
Finally, what can you tease about the race to stop Harwood from unleashing Stormcloud?
How bad will it get? People get smoked, for sure. Along the way, there has to be some collateral damage, I think is the term. Some people need to get sacrificed. But not at the hands of Lucius Fox, in no way!
Pennyworth, Mid-Season Premiere, Sunday, March 7, 9/8c on EPIX.