R’as al Ghul is a DC Comics character who has showed up in many incarnations, both on the page and on the screen, since his creation in 1971’s Batman #232. His most recent? Alexander Siddig’s (Game of Thrones, Deep Space Nine) charismatically cutthroat turn as The Demon’s Head on this season of Gotham.
In tonight’s episode, appropriately titled “The Demon’s Head,” we see R’as truly start to exercise his power, with Siddig having some fun with the role and giving what I think is one of the best on-screen portrayals of R’as al Ghul ever.
We had a chance to talk to the Sudanese-born Brit at last week’s New York Comic Con. Here’s what he told us about taking on the iconic role.
“I’m having a great time,” Siddig said. “Bad guys are the most fun to play because they get all the best lines. They’re often the sexiest roles, so I’m really lucky to get that.”
Siddig said he is constantly trying to surprise both the writers and the audience in his portrayal of the character.
I think the fact that I get to try to figure out ways not to make it too obvious what I’m trying to do is my challenge, the thing I really enjoy. And the writers make no bones about exactly what they’d like to see and what they need done by R’as al Ghul and I try to find a way to confound them and still deliver.
While many actors research extensively when bringing an already-established canon character to life, Siddig takes the opposite approach, choosing to play what is on the page versus the long, complicated, sometimes contradictory nature of the character.
You research something that’s from a comic legend, for want of a better way of putting it, you’re gonna get a lot of contradictory things about who the hell R’as al Ghul is supposed to be and what everybody’s fantasy of him should be, so I left it well alone. I don’t know anything about him other than exactly what’s on the script that’s given to me when I am lucky enough to do the show. So there’s not much preparation, apart from learn the lines and don’t trip over the furniture, as they say.
“He’s being very modest,” said Gotham producer Danny Cannon.
Siddig’s co-stars echoed the sentiment. David Mazouz (Bruce), who works with Siddig extensively this season, said of the experience: “I’ve loved so much working with Sid. He’s such a great guy. He’s such a nice, down-to-earth person and his acting is something I learn from every time I just look at him, on-screen or in person.”
What do we have to look forward to from Siddig’s R’as al Ghul moving forward? When asked about his favorite scene so far, Siddig said he couldn’t choose, but did tease one thing: “I really enjoyed one recently which we shot in a dungeon. That’s a clue.”
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