'Gotham's' New Firefly Talks About Burning Everything Down

"It's really empowering — I hope that girls are going to watch and have that same reaction," says actress Michelle Veintimilla.
Jessica Miglio/FOX

They say the meek shall inherit the earth, but things are different on Fox's Gotham. Last week's episode introduced Bridgit Pike, the downtrodden sister of the city's most dangerous arsonists who was forced to take up the family flamethrower when one of her brothers met an explosive end. But a surprising thing happened when Bridgit broke her first law — she really liked it.

This week's episode, "By Fire," continues Bridgit's transformation from mild-mannered Cinderella to the costumed villain called Firefly. Here, THR talks with Michelle Veintimilla, the actress who brings Bridgit to life, about playing with fire and finding herself forced into situations she didn't anticipate herself dealing with.

Bridgit is a character who ends up in a very different place at the end of this episode from where she started last week. How much did you know about her when you got the role?

I didn't know anything about Bridgit being a villain when I was auditioning for the part. I started right away, but the writers were always on set, and there was a lot of downtime. During that time, they brought me up to speed and told me that they wanted to do Firefly, and they wanted her to be female. I actually read a ton on the past incarnations of the character, and then realized that we were doing a brand new take on it.

Did you have a feeling of, "What have I gotten myself into?"

Oh, yeah. I feel like I was really pushed into the deep end. My first day on set, we were doing a lot of stunt sequences — I was running, climbing up ladders, jumping off boxes, crawling through vents, all these things. There was no way that I could've prepared for that. That's the cool thing about this role, and being able to play the villain that Bridgit becomes: I realize that I always had that strength inside me, and now I'm on the other side of it and realize I can do a lot more.

I actually relate to Bridgit a lot. This was my first real role on TV, so in a lot of ways, that fear that Bridgit has in the show was real to me. It was a big set, and I had to handle fire — I had a flamethrower — it was a lot of stuff to deal with. It was very fight or flight, when you're doing it, and that's what happened to Bridgit: all of sudden, you're in it and you just have to do it.

Do you see Bridgit as a role model, even though she's a villain?

I think so. Bridgit has an incredible amount of heart, and she sees the injustices that happen in Gotham, and she feels very passionately about trying to right the wrongs. I think that it's going to be interesting to see what makes her turn bad. It doesn't come from testosterone-based aggression; I think she feels cheated, because she's had the strength all along and hasn't had the chance to really express that. Now she has, and she's going to run with it.

Like you said, Gotham's Firefly isn't like any of the comic book versions. Do you think she'll definitely go bad, or do you think there's a chance that she'll try to fight the injustices in the city?

I honestly don't know. I think she'll turn bad. I think that's the point of it all, that people — especially in Gotham — can start out good and turn bad, you know? What's different about Bridgit is that it comes from a justified place. She's been enslaved to her brothers for who knows how many years, and held captive and she doesn't know any better until she's free. Now she has a chance to test her limits and find out who she is. The options are endless. I have a feeling that she'll come back with a vengeance.

With Galavan and Oswald getting more extreme in their fight for control of the city, could Bridgit end up being the anti-hero Gotham needs? Leave your comments below. Gotham airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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