Matthew Jackson of Looper writes…
Every actor taking on the role of an iconic superhero faces challenges, but few have faced challenges quite like those Javicia Leslie has conquered on her journey to starring in The CW’s Batwoman. The pressure of inhabiting the mantle of the fan-favorite DC Comics heroine might be enough all on its own, but Leslie had a few other interesting factors to contend with.
For one thing, she’s the second actress to inhabit the cowl in two years, replacing Ruby Rose after she departed the series at the end of the first season. For another, she’s stepping into the Batwoman costume not as a new version of Kate Kane, but as an all new character, Ryan Wilder, who was created specifically for the hit series after Rose’s departure. That means Leslie has to make a memorable impression fast, and she has to do it in the midst of a show that’s already been built up around her, from the world of Gotham City to the ensemble cast that previously supported an entirely different Batwoman.
Within the narrative of the show, that means Ryan Wilder has to go from uncompromising young woman living out of her van to superheroine in the span of just a few scenes, which isn’t easy. For Leslie, that meant walking onto a set full of cast and crew who already knew how to work together. Speaking with Looper ahead of her Batwoman debut, the new star described that experience as nothing but positive.
“It’s so dope. Honestly, I already knew some of [the cast], so it made it easier,” Leslie says. “Camrus [Johnson, who plays Luke Fox] and I literally just became brother and sister, the moment we met. And then Nicole [Kang, who plays Mary Hamilton] was like a little sister to me. Meagan [Tandy, who plays Sophie Moore] and I have already worked in a project together before. So we already had our connection. And Rachel [Skarsten, who plays Alice] and Dougray [Scott, who plays Jacob Kane] I mean, goodness, they’re so much fun to be around that it just makes work fun. There’s never a dull moment.”
From the way Leslie tells it, we can expect that sense of camaraderie to show in the final product. “Everyone’s always so dope off screen and on screen, everyone’s so committed,” she explains. “It makes the work just so much fun. And then the crew itself, they’re so dedicated to the story and making sure that we have the best quality version of that we can have. And all of it makes coming to work a joy. I get to do what I love. I get to do stunts all day. I get to have fun with my friends. I’m in heaven when I’m here. It’s a lot of fun.”
Of course, getting to know her new cast and crewmates on the Batwoman set wasn’t the end of Leslie’s adjustment. As any previous star of a hit CW series knows, joining Batwoman also meant contending with a massive online fanbase hanging on the show’s every development, including the massive shake-up that came when Rose departed the series and Leslie was chosen as the actress to embody the next Batwoman. It’s the kind of situation that’s easy to imagine going poorly on social media. Fortunately, according to Leslie, that hasn’t been the case. Just like the cast and crew, the Batwoman fandom welcomed her with warmth, creating a sense of connection even before a single minute of her first episode has aired.
“It’s been really amazing, like connecting me to people that I probably would’ve never had a chance to connect to. It’s really connecting me to a world that I wouldn’t have had a chance to connect to. I’m somewhat of a comic book nerd myself, as far as the movies go. So to be able to be a part of that world is a lot of fun, because comic book fans go hard, and to be on the good side of them is always good. And to be able to really, I guess, look at the fan art and have fun with the fan art and just really just connect. And I think that the fans of Batwoman, they’re so dope. They’re so epic. They’re so down. They go hard, they go really hard and you feel like you already have a family with them.”
Javicia Leslie makes her Batwoman debut January 17 at 8pm EST on The CW.