Actor Patrick Fabian is no stranger to portraying two-faced lawyers having played Jimmy McGill’s nemesis Howard Hamlin in the acclaimed series Better Call Saul over the course of six seasons. So it seems rather fitting for Fabian to be cast as Harvey Dent, the literal two-faced attorney, in the latest DC animated feature film Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham. Based on the Lovecraftian Elseworlds comic miniseries by writers Mike Mignola and Richad Pace and artist Troy Nixey, the film reimagines Batman’s world in the ’20s with Harvey as a Gotham City mayoral candidate.
Fans familiar with the character of Harvey Dent may be taken aback to find Fabian’s portrayal subvert expectations. Ahead of the film’s release, we had the chance to chat with Fabian about voicing the character, his prior familiarity with H.P. Lovecraft and much more.
Dar: With a character as iconic Harvey Dent, most people expect some kind of villainous turn especially since most people associate you with your role as Howard Hamlin in Better Call Saul. They may be surprised that Harvey is actually on the up and up in this film. As a performer was it also a surprise or relief to play a character that defied expectations?
Patrick Fabian: What I think is great about The Doom That Came to Gotham is when they show Harvey flipping that coin the first time, I think that makes the audience feel like “Yes, there he is!” But they don’t deliver on that. Instead, what we get is this other version of Harvey where he is on the up and up and he’s a good guy. He’s running for mayor because he wants to help Gotham and there’s nothing nefarious about it. He’s not hanging out with the wrong people. We live in that section of Harvey for most of the movie. And then of course when he gets a bad case of “Poison Ivy” then things go South. But it wasn’t like he was looking for it so that makes it tragic. It happened to him not because of him.
Dar: This is a direct adaptation of a comic book storyline. Did you read it before recording or just rely on the script?
Fabian: I just relied on the script because I wasn’t sure what they [the filmmakers] were going to come up. They have their own artistry. I remember the first time that I heard voice come out of my mouth from what they had drawn in Reign of the Supermen I was amazed and thrilled. I thought I’d leave myself in the same process this time. [Voice director] Wes Gleason and [director] Sam Liu are so good at what they do. I just put myself in Wes’ hands and Wes would lead me where I needed to go.
Dar: You’ve mentioned getting into voiceover was something you wanted for a long time and kept auditioning. Through those auditions you developed a relationship with Wes Gleason who cast you in Reign of the Supermen and now Doom That Came to Gotham. How has your relationship with him evolved over the years?
Fabian: Wes and I remain friends. I think when it came time to cast Harvey Dent, he and Sam put their heads together and said, “Maybe Patrick would want to come on board.” Of course the answer is yes. Anytime that brain trust wants me to come I’m willing to come. To your point, it’s still a very tight, tough business out there. I’d love to do more animation. I just haven’t managed to get anything as cool as DC animation yet.
Dar: The easiest way to describe the original comic and this film adaptation is Batman by way of Lovecraft. I’ve read some Lovecraft, not everything but certainly my fair share. Going into this project, what kind of familiarity did you have with the works of H.P. Lovecraft?
Fabian: I had The Doom That Came to Sarnath handed to me in high school. So when I saw this title I knew it was definitely an homage to that. I also read the Cthulhu Tales in high school and college. The whole Lovecraftian notion of the underlying dark belly of your thoughts and world made manifest in these fantastical creatures I think is just so fascinating and wonderful. It really suits the early ‘20s where this is placed. Spiritualism was very much in the air in the world. The first World War had gone on so the actual horrors of what man is capable of had been finally visited upon us in a very visceral way. It also suits it because Batman himself is intellectual and scientific and fact based. He has to get over and clear that away and accept something new outside of his realm of comfort which is the supernatural. I think that’s really exciting for the audience to watch.
Dar: As you mentioned, Harvey Dent goes through some pretty horrific body horror. Did you play around or alter your voice in any during those scenes?
Fabian: In terms of altering my voice, I think it’s the idea that he’s sort of bewildered at what happened. Again, he wasn’t seeking it out and doesn’t even know what’s going on. Harvey is the guy who is usually in control of things. Now he’s at the mercy of the things that are happening. So by the time we see him at the gate he’s succumbed. When he says, “Good luck” to Batman at that moment he doesn’t get up and do anything about it. You can read that two ways. One is that he’s being ironic. Or, which is the way I think it plays more, is the better half of Harvey is still there saying whatever did this to me is doing something down there and you should get rid of it.
Dar: For me the best horror touches upon our own fears and anxieties. One of my favorite films is John Carpenter’s The Thing which is very Lovecraftian in and of itself.
Fabian: Oh, absolutely!
Dar: How do you feel Doom That Came to Gotham resonatse with our own fears or anxieties as well as for you during production?
Fabian: When we were making this it was still during tight COVID protocols so I didn’t even get to shake people’s hands. I would go in through a different entrance. I went into the sound booth and no one was there. I could see the other humans through the glass and the other people through Zoom. So, it was really stripped down. That’s an odd situation to find yourself working in because you’re so devoid of human contact. But it made me wonder about the state of the world at the same time we’re doing this Elsworlds [movie] where they’re also wondering about the state of the world. This whole notion of doom, which is such a great word, descending and coming from underneath Gotham and the sins of the father or whatever you want to draw from it metaphorically, in the midst of COVID, you can’t help but think the same thing. So, it definitely has resonance.
Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham will be available Digitally and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on March 28, 2023
I had the distinct pleasure of running into Mr. Fabian or rather he had the distinct pleasure of running into me at a Sherman Oaks Starbucks maybe five or six years ago. I was sitting around writing one of my blogs and he walks up to me and asks me if I’m a Porcupine Tree fan. I told him, ‘yes, why do you ask?’ He noticed that I was wearing a Steven Wilson t-shirt. So he struck up a conversation with me about progressive rock music and throughout this conversation I find out that he’s a big fan of Gentle Giant. I advise him to start picking up the new 5.1 remixes of theirs and he’s floored that I know the 411 on all his favorite bands – but anyway, he wanted to sell me his seats to the Steven Wilson concert coming up because he got a immeidate call back to fly out to Albuquerque to finish up whatever was going on with the 4th season of ‘Better Call Saul” and that’s when it dawned on me, ‘oh shit, that where’s I recognized you from’ look. I couldn’t take him up on his offer – because I ALREADY HAD front row seats to Steven Wilson, but I’m sure he found someone to take them off his hands.
I was sad to see the way his character ended on “Better Call Saul” and incidently I occasionally run into Ed Begley Jr. who played his dad in Studio City to this very day. (Just stand on the corner of Laurel Canyon and Ventura Boulevard and he’ll eventually show up).
Anyway, Patrick Fabian, great guy to talk progressive rock politics with and NOW, I’m really looking forward to grabbing my copy of The Doom That Came To Gotham now that I’ve read this interview.
Fantastic job Taimur Dar, per usual.
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