Charlie Tahan Interview: The Man Behind Gotham’s Scarecrow Mask

We talked to Gotham's Charlie Tahan about what goes into creating one of the creepiest characters on TV.

Tonight’s Gotham will pull us even further into the fear-driven world of The Scarecrow.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Jonathan Crane adapted to the screen — Cillian Murphy played a version of the DC Comics character in Batman Begins — but this is the first time we’ve seen an on-screen adaptation of how the villain came to be a villain. You know, Gotham‘s specialty.

How did Gotham do it with Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow? We had a chance to chat with Charlie Tahan, the 19-year-old actor behind the Scarecrow mask. Tahan first appeared as Jonathan Crane back in Season 1 before reprising the teen-turned-villain role in the Season 4 premiere.

“I was surprised by how much time has past,” Tahan told us over the phone. “It feels like it was last year, but it was, like, three years ago.”

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Tahan said he hoped that he would have a chance to come back and show “the full origin story” of his character, but didn’t know he would be returning until close to the production of Season 4. 

“I wanted to do justice to the true fanboys and girls,” said Tahan of crafting his performance for the role now that Jonathan Crane is making the jump from teen boy to adult villain.

We have Tahan’s high school friend Colin to thank for helping. Colin is a huge Batman, and specifically Scarecrow, fan, according to Tahan. “He sent me a lot of pictures from the old comics, the first time you see Dr. Crane, and he sent me a bunch of audio from the Arkham games. I think people like that version a lot. And yeah, honestly, I kind of try to impersonate my friend.”

Given that Scarecrow’s face is generally obscured by a mask and by the projected fear of the people he is attacking, the character’s voice becomes that much more important in crafting the role. Tahan, who is no stranger to voice work (his resume includes Victor Frankenstein in 2012’s Frankenweenie), went for a “cool, clear voice” that was then added to in post-production to give it an even more unnatural, unsettling vibe.

For Tahan, the challenges of creating a character while wearing a mask are balanced by some perks.

“You know what? I think it took a lot of pressure off me and made it a lot easier, not having to worry about people seeing your face,” said Tahan, adding: “I mean, you didn’t have to have people coming in and covering up my acne. So that was nice.”

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While Tahan wouldn’t spoil who else Scarecrow might be attacking in Season 4, he did give us some insight into whether or not there’s anything left of Jonathan inside of The Scarecrow.

“I think it seems like Jonathan’s gone, but it’s still his body and his brain,” said Tahan. “I just think his dad’s experiment kind of succeeded and that’s kind of the final outcome of making that fear toxic mix. Yeah, I mean I think… when he’s over exposed to it, he seemingly has no fear, but yeah I’d like to believe that there’s still some Jonathan left. I don’t think he’s a completely lost cause and Gordon in the second episode proves that.”

This seems like a good time to mention that tonight’s episode of Gotham, “Fear the Reaper,” airs on Fox at 8 p.m. ET.

So, what would Tahan see if he were exposed to the “fear juice,” as characters on Gotham like to call it?

“I’d probably see a lot of things,” said Tahan. “I’d probably see an airplane since I don’t really like flying that much. I’d probably be having a plane crash or something.”

Hopefully, Tahan steers clear of the Scarecrow’s fear juice. He is a busy actor. In addition to his recurring role on this season of Gotham, he recently recurred as Wyatt Langmore in the first season of Netflix’s Ozark and will be returning for the second season. 

Tahan’s new horror film Super Dark Times just screened at Fantastic Fest, and his Netflix movie, The Land of Steady Habits, starring Ben Mendelsohn and Edie Falco, will hit Netflix sometime in the near future.

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