ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham star Patrick Fabian about playing Harvey Dent and his fondness for Batman.
“Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham is a 1920s-based tale that finds explorer Bruce Wayne accidentally unleashing an ancient evil, expediting his return to Gotham City after a two-decade hiatus,” reads the film’s synopsis. “The logic/science-driven Batman must battle Lovecraftian supernatural forces threatening the sheer existence of Gotham, along the way being aided and confronted by reimagined versions of his well-known allies and enemies, including Green Arrow, Ra’s al Ghul, Mr. Freeze , Killer Croc, Two-Face, James Gordon, and Bruce’s beloved wards. Prepare for a mystical, often terrifying Batman adventure unlike any other.”
Tyler Treese: What I really loved about this movie is that there’s this Lovecraftian element. What did you like most about this being an Elseworlds story and featuring these familiar characters, but putting such a different spin on it?
Patrick Fabian: It’s so much fun. You said Lovecraftian and the first HP Lovecraft story I ever read was The Doom that came to Sarnath, which, obviously, Batman is homaging. The Lovecraftian stuff is dripping with the supernatural, the inexplicable. It allows for unexplained things. You don’t have to have a scientific mind to have it happen. I think that’s the great conflict that we see Batman going through — he has to throw over his scientific mind and give over to the supernatural.
In the same respect, as an actor, you have to give over to the elements that are going on there. You have to give over to the feeling of it. I love that it’s a period piece in the ’20s, because that also gives a feeling to it. The men are in suits, the women are in dresses, the language is a little more elevated. And yet, because it’s not quite as technologically advanced in the ’20s, the supernatural qualities that are there really have a weight and a truth about them of like, “Oh no, this is still what makes the world run, this thing that’s underneath us all.”
I love that. You’re playing Harvey Dent here, and he’s been played so iconically in the past. Like you said, you’re in the ’20s, you get to play it up here. What was most exciting about this specific version of Harvey Dent?
Well, people will come with a character’s name and idea and an expectation of what they think it should be, right? But because we’re in Elseworld and we’ve got something else going on, you’re allowed to have a little more lateral movement with him. In this one, we mostly see Harvey as a really good guy, an optimistic guy, a guy who wants to clean up the city. These are all good qualities that we want for him, without a doubt. We really only see the turn after he gets a bad case of Poison Ivy, as they say.
The problem with that is that he didn’t do anything to have that happen. It just happened. It wasn’t of his own doing. So what we don’t get to see is the full fruition of what that’s going to be. But when we do see him at the gates, when Batman is going in, he doesn’t really get up to stop him or do anything. He merely just says, “Good luck.” Now, whether he means good luck ironically, or that he means good luck realistically, like, “I hope you get it done,” remains to be seen. Maybe we’ll see that in the next movie.
The transformation into Two-Face in this is so gnarly. What was your reaction when you saw what he looks like by the gates? Because it was crazy,
Oh my gosh, it was nuts! You know, these DC animators are just at the top of their game. They’re so good. It was big … big and awful. And horrible! You want to help him and there’s nothing to be done—at the moment.
I love the tease. What’s your relationship with Batman like as a fan. I know you’ve done some work with WB Animation in the past, but how has your fandom with Batman been?
It’s funny, I’ve been alive enough to see a whole lot of Batman, you know what I mean? The renaissance of Batman all the way from the TV series to the first one with Michael Keaton. I still love Michael Keaton as the Batman, there’s no doubt about it. But then Christian Bale and all those iterations are great. I don’t know why I’m drawn the Batman like a lot of people are, other than this sense of being able to put on a cape and become somebody else. Batman always feels tortured and darker than Superman, obviously, and I think we all like to think of ourselves as brooding, dark, deep people sometimes, so that’s why Batman resonates with us.
I loved you as Cyborg Superman in Reign of the Supermen. I haven’t seen you do a ton of voice roles, so what is it about these DC movies that keep you coming back and interest you?
It’s so much fun. Again, the thrill of seeing my voice come out of that artistry on the screen is amazing. So anytime DC or Sam Liu or Wes Gleason want me to do something, I’ll come do it for them. I haven’t done a ton of animation, to tell you the truth. It just hasn’t come my way for years and years, so maybe this is the start of being able to be part of the DC family for years to come. I hope so.
That’s awesome. With Better Call Saul having come to an end, what’s your reflection on being part of such an iconic series that has been so loved by fans and critics and to be a huge part of that overarching story?
It’s funny, the further gets in the rearview mirror … we were just at the SAG Awards just a couple of weeks ago, the whole cast. We were nominated for Best Ensemble, which we did not win — which is fine, it was just nice to be nominated and it was great to see my family again, because we’ve all gone off onto new things, of course. What a gift to be apart of that show. I’ll always have that and that’s amazing. I’ll always have that final exit for Howard Hamlin, which is a great way for any character to leave a series.
I can’t thank those writers and those directors and my fellow actors enough. I’ve been working stiff for about 30 years, you know? The next job, the next job, the next job. And I got lucky — I ended up working with some of the best people I’ve ever worked with in my life. It became a hit and it became a critic favorite as well, which is really … what more do you want when you’re telling stories? You want it to get out there and you want people to respond to it and like it. So I don’t mind getting stopped on the street and having people say, “Hey Howard! What’s going on?” That makes my day.
I love that, and I love hearing about actors early roles. I saw that you appeared in an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 way back in 1993. What do you remember from being on that set?
I remember that Kristin Davis was the prettiest girl I ever saw in my life — oh, that was Melrose Place, sorry! You know what, that was me and Ian Ziering , I believe, because we were rushing a fraternity in 90210. That’s what we were doing. Oh my gosh. I was the president of KEG. Oh my gosh. You mentioned that and I can remember putting on the wardrobe. I can remember being on set, being excited because that was a big hit show. That thrill of being able to be asked to come play never gets old, whether it’s behind the camera or behind the microphone.
You’re very active on Cameo and people have used you in several memes, which has been so fun. There’s this One Piece one that’s very popular …
Oh my God, oh my God, that “the One Piece is real” thing, that’s a classic example of somebody who clearly didn’t know what he was saying! Right? I had no idea what I was saying. It was out of context. I was thinking, because somebody wanted me to say it, I thought it was an inside joke for somebody, and then it blew up into this thing that was really kind of fun. It was a fun moment for a little bit but it reminded me, again, of the passion of people who loved animation, right? Because there was many, many anime people who were not happy. They thought I was disrespecting it and I didn’t know what was going on and was ruining it for them. Thankfully, I think it all sort of evened out and it was just a good fun ride.
That’s so fun. What’s been most rewarding about getting to connect with your fans in that personal way?
Well it’s nice to be able to say thank you, because I’m living a dream life. I get to do what I love for a living, and not many people get a chance to do that. So when I get to connect with the fans, I get to at least thank them. For anyone who watched Better Call Saul or anyone who watched 90210, or anybody who thought the One Piece was real, all those people help keep me doing what I get to do. I don’t mind saying thank you and I love to connect and see the smile on their face.
I talked to Rhea Seehorn recently, and she was so sweet and fun to talk to. Everybody says she’s such a pro. What stood out the most about working with her for several years?
I love her. She’s like my sister from another mother, without a doubt. The deal with Rhea is she prepares so well. She does such great preparation. So when we come to set, she’s ready to play. That was a great lesson that I learned from her.