X-Men: First Class actor Jason Flemyng has been cast as Lord Harwood, the villain of Epix's upcoming Batman prequel Pennyworth. The series will star Jack Bannon as a young Alfred Pennyworth, the man who will eventually go on to become a butler to the Wayne family and a confidant to Batman. The cast of Pennyworth has been coming together quickly, with Paloma Faith (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) recently joining the show as a female villain, Bet Sykes.
Pennyworth is set in the 1960s and focuses on Alfred Pennyworth's life after leaving the S.A.S. and starting his own security company - an endeavor that brings him into a collaboration with Batman's father, Thomas Wayne (played by Ben Aldridge). The show will be executive produced by the team behind FOX's own Batman prequel show, Gotham: writer Bruno Heller and director Danny Cannon.
According to Epix's press release, Flemyng's character is an "upper class Englishman" who is "cultured, urbane, brilliant and supremely sure of himself." Lord Harwood's "sadistic, cruel nature has a veneer of charm," and his high position in society likely means that he will have far-reaching influence, and will be difficult to take down. Like Bet Sykes, Lord Harwood appears to be an original character created for the show, rather than being plucked from the pages of DC Comics.
Flemyng is no stranger to the comic book genre, having played the nervous Dr. Jekyll in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Hellfire Club member Azazel in X-Men: First Class, as well as having a small role in From Hell, the movie adaptation of Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel about the crimes of Jack the Ripper. More recently, Flemyng starred in the British period drama Jamestown, which follows a group of early English settlers in America.
It's still early days for Pennyworth, but many DC fans are intrigued by the idea of a show that explores Alfred's life before he was at Batman's beck and call - especially since Alfred has a pretty exciting backstory in the comics. Given the setting, this show could end up being reminiscent of ABC's Agent Carter, another prequel series that explored espionage plots in the days before superheroes became a ubiquitous presence.
Filming on Pennyworth is expected to begin before the end of the year, so we will likely see a few more casting announcements in the coming weeks. It will be interesting to see whether Lord Harwood and Bet Sykes are working together against young Alfred and Thomas, or whether each will have their own agenda.
Pennyworth is expected to premiere on Epix in 2019.