Variety Archives - Javicia Leslie Archives


Danielle Turchiano of Variety writes…

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Survived Much Worse,” the eighth episode of “Batwoman” Season 2.

In the summer of 2020 after it was announced that Ruby Rose would be exiting the CW’s “Batwoman,” in which she played the titular role, showrunner Caroline Dries penned a short note on social media promising that she would not kill off the character. Now, after only the eighth episode of the second season, the proof that Kate is alive, even if not fully well, was provided in form of a quick shot of her at the end of the episode entitled “Survived Much Worse.”

Wallis Day, perhaps best known thus far for a role in another DC property, Syfy’s short-lived “Krypton,” will take over the role of Kate and have her own storyline recurring throughout the rest of the second season.

“We tease seeing her a bit in [Episode] 209 and we realize somebody has a plan for her and that plan is going to have really dramatic impact on the life of Kate Kane,” Dries tells Variety.

While seeing Kate with her face bandaged was an emotional enough reveal on its own, it delivered an extra wallop in the form of coming right after new Batwoman Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) and Kate’s sister Alice (Rachel Skarsten) finally came to terms with the fact that Kate was probably dead.

“The first half [of the season was] our characters hoping, learning she still might be alive, trying to figure out where she is and then realizing, ‘Oh no, she’s dead.’ That allows them to close the chapter and move on without Kate’s shadow dominating every thought that they have. It gives our Bat team a chance to grow and find a cause that’s specific to them,” Dries says. “We start Episode 9 with a very beautiful funeral ceremony for Kate. The characters need to go through their grief — and I’m not saying you grieve in a month, but it allows us to not see everybody crying themselves to sleep in every scene. And it felt like we owed it to our characters to give them a pause.”

In “Survived Much Worse,” Ryan expressed certain concerns about her place as Batwoman should she succeed in finding Kate alive and returning her home, though. But now that she truly believes Kate is dead, Ryan will have to decide what kind of Batwoman she wants to be long-term.

“This is a woman who, everything good in her life has been taken away from her, and I think in the back of her mind, she always thought maybe the Batwoman legacy was going to be taken from her too, but now she’s realizing it’s not,” Dries says.

“What does that mean? Instead of trying to keep the suit warm, who am I as Batwoman? Who am I as Ryan Wilder? It’s really going to galvanize her to figure out what stamp she’ll make on the symbol, what stamp she’ll make on the city,” she continues. “Taking crime off the street is one thing, but how can we put good back into the street as well?”

Ryan will start by making a list of “Bat rules” for the team, that she will follow as well, Dries previews. (Hence, the ninth episode title, “Rule No. 1.”) But while they are moving on, the audience will be watching a parallel story where “this altered version of Kate” is put through the ringer.

Dries calls Kate’s journey “complicated, mysterious, tough,” and notes that what she has gone through has altered her personality, as well as her appearance. The character was always “incredibly complicated,” she says, but now there are additional multiple layers to her, which made the search for the right actor to step in the role complex as well.

After Rose exited the show, Dries toyed with the idea of recasting her right away but ultimately changed her mind and decided to introduce a new character — Ryan — instead because she thought “it would have been a clunky transition between Season 1 and Season 2 if we had just full-blown recast Kate with no organic story behind it,” she says. But, in the back of her mind, she always planned to bring her back in a new way since she was not killing off the character.

In May 2020, Day, whose other TV credits include “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Casanova,” and “The Royals” and will soon be seen in the feature film “Infinite,” tweeted that playing Batwoman would be “a dream job.” Less than a year later, she will make her debut in that role. She is ​is repped by Hamilton Hodell and UTA.

“Batwoman” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on The CW.


Joe Otterson of Variety writes…

“Batwoman” has found its new series lead, with Javicia Leslie set to step into the cape and cowl for the show’s upcoming second season on The CW.

“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community,” Leslie said.

Leslie will portray a new character on the show named Ryan Wilder. She is described as likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed. She’s also nothing like Kate Kane (previously played by Ruby Rose), the woman who wore the Batsuit before her. With no one in her life to keep her on track, Ryan spent years as a drug-runner, dodging the GCPD and masking her pain with bad habits. Today Ryan lives in her van with her plant. A girl who would steal milk for an alley cat and could also kill you with her bare hands, Ryan is the most dangerous type of fighter: highly skilled and wildly undisciplined. She is an out lesbian, athletic, raw, passionate, fallible, and very much not your stereotypical All-American hero.

Leslie takes over leading the series from Rose, who shocked fans when she announced her departure from the series in May.

On Instagram, Rose praised Leslie’s casting.

“This is amazing!! I am so glad Batwoman will be played by an amazing Black woman. I want to congratulate Javicia Leslie on taking over the bat cape. You are walking into an amazing cast and crew. I can’t wait to watch season 2 you are going to be amazing!!” she wrote.

Prior to joining “Batwoman,” Leslie starred on the CBS series “God Friended Me,” which aired for two seasons. That show was also produced by Warner Bros. Television and Berlanti Productions. She also starred in the BET series “The Family Business” and the film “Always a Bridesmaid.”

She is repped by Stewart Talent and Thirdhill Entertainment.

“Batwoman” is produced by Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. Caroline Dries developed the series and served as executive producer for season one with Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Geoff Johns. “Batwoman” is based on characters created for DC by Bob Kane with Bill Finger.

The show is scheduled to return in January on Sunday nights on The CW.