How ‘Pennyworth’ Star Jack Bannon Plays Alfred as a Suave Hero
Teen Titans GO! To the Movies made a joke where the young sidekicks saw trailers for all the Batman spinoffs that were made before Robin ever got his own movie. One of the jokes was Alfred: The Movie. They may or may not have known that the series, Pennyworth was actually in the works.
Pennyworth is a prequel to Batman focused on his future butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon) as a young man. Alfred returns to London after serving in the SAS, where he meets up with Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge), Bruce’s future father. The series depicts exciting adventures Thomas and Alfred share in the 60s long before they provided for the future Caped Crusader.
Bannon spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet after the cast and creators presented a panel for the Television Critics Association. Pennyworth premieres July 28 on EPIX, but you can meet your new Alfred early as Bannon shared what makes his Alfred Pennyworth special.
Alfred is the boss this time
Once Bruce Wayne grows up, Alfred has to take orders from him. When he meets Thomas, Alfred is in charge.
“Thomas is in his world,” Bannon said. “He’s in London. He’s in the 60s and I think Alfred has a bit of ‘Let me tell you a few things, mate. This is how it works over here. You can come with your otherworldly American white teeth, God knows.’ He’s an apparition from another world but right now you’re in my world and these are the rules that we play by.”
Jack Bannon wears the fancy suits now
As a man about London in the 60s, Bannon has some wardrobe that would make James Bond blush.
“Oh yeah, the wardrobe’s amazing,” Bannon gushed. “I’ve got several tailor-made suits which is great. The turtleneck I think is going to become a feature. That seems to come back. I’ve got this mac, some archetypal 60s looks. The previous show I did was renaissance Italy so I was in four layers of velvet in 30 degrees [Celsius] heat filming all around Tuscany. So to be in comfy, cool clothes now is a real treat.”
Alfred can fight in ‘Pennyworth’
Returning home from war, Alfred doesn’t want to fight anymore. Unfortunately, his job with Thomas will require some fisticuffs. Also, the fact that Pennyworth is a show for fans of Batman requires that he throw some punches.
“A lot of these fights are taking place on the streets of London,” Bannon said. “They’re sort of vicious, quick, efficient and anything as choreographed as martial arts probably doesn’t fit. It is efficient but I think the idea is Alfred doesn’t like doing it, but then he has to do it. It’s this sort of thing of don’t make me, don’t make me but if you do I can kill you with a hair grip or a pencil, something as simple as that.”
Every episode of ‘Pennyworth’ is different
The premiere episode of Pennyworth introduces the world of Alfred. It’s action-packed, and indeed the series will be action-packed. However, as he read subsequent scripts, O’Bannon realized future episodes could be more than just cliffhangers.
“Episode 2 spends a lot of time in the pubs around London,” Bannon said. “It’s sort of a bit of a Dickensian tale. Then episode 3 becomes more of a spy espionage thriller. Episode 4’s different again. There’s something for everyone for sure.”
Jack Bannon has a lot of angst to play
Alfred returns to London an emotionally wounded man. Today we recognize the traumas that affect soldiers in combat, but in the 60s Alfred was on his own. Bannon has some theories about Alfred’s suffering.
“He’s suffering a little bit, I suppose, with what we know now as PTSD,” Bannon said. “I think in quiet times he is on his own. We see a dark path and one that in that time in Britain, these things weren’t diagnosed and they weren’t treated. It was very much a ‘get over it’ kind of thing. I think he likes being around people.”
Alfred is rebelling against butlering
Alfred comes from a family of butlers, but at this point in Pennyworth, that’s not what he wants for himself. He even clashes with his father over it.
“I think everyone has a sort of thing wanting to better themselves,” Bannon said. “At first I read it as a bit harsh, saying, ‘Dad, I’m going to be better than you.’ I think the 60s in that time, it was full of optimism. It was full of hope. Everyone wanted to be better, not necessarily better than their father, but wanting more.
“It was the first time I think people were allowed to believe that they could have more. But I think from Alfred’s point of view, he’s seen his dad serving these people for his whole life and he’s a bitter, angry man. Alfred has served queen and country since he was 16 for 10 years and done some horrible things as a result. Now he wants to serve himself.”
Everyone knows where this story ends. Alfred is going to work for Thomas for quite some time and eventually follow him to Gotham City and become his butler. For now, he has another business in mind.
“[He’ll do that] by setting up this security business, by not taking no for an answer, by earning a lot of money,” Bannon continued. “Sometimes he has to do things that he’d prefer not to have to do but if the money’s right at the minute, his morals are put to one side sometimes.”