Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma in "How The Riddler Got His Name." Photo copyright of FOX.
Regular watchers of FOX’s Gotham are well aware that Edward Nygma a.k.a. The Riddler has experienced a variety of bizarre twists and surprising turns in his personal and professional lives. While working as a forensic scientist for the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD), this mild-mannered, bespectacled socially awkward young man with a penchant for riddles developed romantic feelings for a coworker. Sadly, it was a case of tragic unrequited love that not only ended in one but two murders, but also the emergence of a twisted and aggressive alternate personality in Edward’s mind.
After spending some time in Arkham Asylum, Edward was released thanks to the intervention of Oswald Cobblepot (The Penquin), who he subsequently helped get elected the new mayor of Gotham. Oswald rewarded his friend’s unwavering loyalty by appointing Edward his right-hand man, but then love came between the two men in some very twisted ways. Angered at being betrayed by Oswald, Edward -whose Riddler persona continues to emerge and assert itself - decided to end their relationship by shooting Oswald and dumping him into the river in the show’s third season winter finale The Gentle Art of Making Enemies.
“Filming that episode was such a highlight thus far for me on the series,” says actor Cory Michael Smith, who plays Edward Nygma/The Riddler. “I feel fortunate for a couple of reasons, the first being that I’ve had a really lovely, in-depth transition from Edward to The Riddler, and I feel like our writers have done such an amazing job with my character. Secondly, the relationship that they’ve created between Edward and Oswald, and the way Robin Lord Taylor [Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin] and I have executed it has been so fulfilling for me. It’s certainly the richest relationship that I have in the show, and I think it’s also fair to say that it’s one of the richest relationships in the show, period.
“What’s so nice is that there’s now a history with Edward and Oswald, so when you go into a scene, it feels like there’s a ton of story to tell, and the two characters share a great deal with one another, which the audience has seen. There are a lot of mixed feelings, too, when you shoot these scenes because so much has been set up for us. Some of the scenes with Robin and I have been rather intense, and there were moments where both our characters were dear friends who not only loved one another – in different ways, of course – but admired each other, too. There’s also that deep sense of hurt where you don’t want to hurt one another, but at the same time feel you like you’re justified in doing so. You don’t enjoy it, but have to do it, and I think that’s a really interesting part of Gotham. There’s so much sadism in the show and it can get very dark, but when there’s a cost to it, that’s when it’s the most exciting and riveting to watch.”
Edward Nygma continues his “transformation” into The Riddler when Gotham returns this coming Monday with the aptly-titled episode How The Riddler Got His Name. Of course, any super-villain worth his or her salt would not venture out in public to perform their dastardly deeds without being properly attired, and The Riddler is no exception. The crafting of his character’s costume has become an important piece of the puzzle in Smith’s performance.
“Our costume designer, John Glaser, is absolutely incredible,” praises the actor. “With The Riddler, we set out on the path of putting him in a suit, and then we began experimenting with different fabrics and slowly making his costume a bit more patterned as well as a bit greener. They wanted to stick with that sort of design and tailored look. Certainly my character can adapt and change, and I’ve been interested in doing a full transition from awkward and gawky to really elegant and classy. So what does that look like clothing-wise? Well, that’s a well-tailored man who’s quite graceful, despite how he was a few years ago.
“So my character’s suits are super-tailored and very well-made. Some of the suits are made with fabric that has more of a matte look, while others have a little bit of a sheen to them and kind of glisten in the light. The fabric and tone of green changes depending on where The Riddler is and what he’s up to, but we really just wanted a classy, elegant look that was unique to the show. A new pattern maker cut the latest suit, so it fits like a glove and is really sharp and clean-looking.
“What I’ve enjoyed most, though, and found really helpful, is that I put on the suit first, but I don’t put on my character’s glasses until I’m on-set and about to start work. That’s when the whole thing clicks into place. The glasses are really important to me, and now that I have the full suit, which includes the bowler hat, it pulls it all together for me,” enthuses Smith.
Gotham returns to FOX for its spring premiere on Monday, April 24th @ 8:00 p.m. EST/PST. As noted above, photo copyright of FOX, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!