Several Bill Finger milestones are coming your way in 2014.
It is the 100th anniversary of his birth (and the 75th of Batman's).
It is the 40th anniversary of his death (40 years ago today, in fact).
And it marks the first-ever live-action Bill Finger, played by 22-year-old Ezekiel Jackson in a New York play entitled Fathers of the Dark Knight.
Tell me a bit about yourself, including where you're from, your age, your theater background, and what else you're doing these days?
I was born in Brooklyn in 1991 and raised in the Bronx. I was adopted as a baby and I was lucky to have been adopted or I would have never gotten into the arts. My mom was a Broadway performer and she is still a singer to this day. I spent my middle school and high school years at the Theatre Arts Production Company where I studied Shakespeare, improve, and contemporary acting. I furthered my education and love of acting when I went to AMDA, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, in NY and LA. There I studied the art of acting in many forms. I graduated in June 2012 in LA. Right after I graduated, I was in a show for the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival where we did the play Macbeth. Then I worked on a few fight choreography jobs for short films and several web series. I have also done acting for short films and student films. Those experiences were amazing. Now that I am back on the east coast, I am a part of Fathers of the Dark Knight and I am auditioning and looking for the next exciting project.
How did you hear of the auditions for Fathers of the Dark Knight?
I heard about the play a year before I actually joined the cast. The director, Roberto Williams, approached me about joining the cast but at the time I was in California finishing college. Fast forward to a year later; on Facebook I stumbled across a link to the Fathers of the Dark Knight website, and I quickly wrote him telling him how cool everything looks and I discovered that he had not yet hired a fight choreographer for the production. So I saw that as a sign and took my golden opportunity and soon became the official fight choreographer for FOTDK. Then I expressed interest in being a part of the production in any other capacity and he offered me the role of Bill Finger and I was excited and said yes.
Are you a Batman fan?
I am a diehard Batman fan; been since I was a young boy. I first read Batman comic books and then, since I was a ‘90s baby, Batman: The Animated Series was on TV, and there had been the live-action movies, so the ‘90s was Batman mania to me. I love almost anything Batman-related—the world of Batman has been a big part of my life.
Had you heard of Bill Finger (or, for that matter, Bob Kane) before?
I knew of Bob Kane before I worked on FOTDK. I knew he created Batman because I used that as a reference for a paper I was writing back in middle school on how certain forms of entertainment are educational and or inspirational. I had heard of Bill Finger during my research but didn't really know how much he contributed to the creation of Batman.
How do you plan on playing Bill?
How I plan on playing Bill Finger is a tough question to answer because there isn't much information to study on him in preparation for the role. Bill Finger, from what I have researched, was a "to himself" type of guy. He didn't like confrontation, he didn't like a whole lot of attention on himself. He was a man who loved his son very much and loved to receive input from him. He was a very smart man who loved life and sadly wasn't recognized till after his death. My director and I have been discovering more about him through the rehearsal process and it’s been great to start bringing this character to life. I will be using the character Ed Norton from The Honeymooners and the character Ted Chaough from Mad Men for inspiration for Bill. With inspirations of those kind and great direction from Roberto Williams, we will bring Bill Finger to life.
How do you feel being the first person to portray the unsung co-creator of the world's most popular superhero?
I feel honored and a bit scared to be the first to play Bill Finger. I am honored to play him because I want to give Bill Finger the respect and recognition he deserves. I am scared because I want to make sure to portray Bill Finger in such a way that the audience feels like they know him and want to know more.