When Batwoman executive producer Sarah Schechter and showrunner Caroline Dries met with their eventual star, Ruby Rose, the Australian model-turned-actress wasn’t sure about committing to a television show. But Rose said Sunday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour that she knew she wanted to sign on for the role after hearing the duo’s impassioned story pitches.
“When we talked about it and [I saw] how passionate they were, and they were yelling over the top of each other and finishing each other’s sentences. … I was watching this ping-pong match thinking if they’re that invested in this and it makes them so happy and it’s telling the story that I wish was on television when I was a kid and Caroline wishes and Sarah, I believe there are going to be people that this changes their life,” she told reporters after her time on stage. “I believe there’s some people that won’t find themselves. I mean, I think there’s definitely someone for everyone in the show, but if you don’t find yourself in the show, that’s probably because there’s plenty of shows you already have out there.”
The character of Batwoman, aka Batman’s cousin, Kate Kane, is the first lesbian superhero to headline her own series, and out actress Rose sees herself in the character.
“I feel like I was more like her when I was younger — the hesitation of trusting people, letting people in, feeling like I could do everything on my own. Not having a big family. Being gay, obviously, but that’s not the biggest part of the show,” she said. “But there’s a lot that I definitely experienced throughout [my] earlier teens, maybe even early 20s, but that now I don’t share with her but I can see why she feels the way she does. I also don’t live in Gotham. It’s different when you live in Gotham and the world is like that. Not that we’re far from it, but it’s a heavier situation, whereas I feel like my life is pretty well put together.”
There is a big difference, however: “I don’t brood as much. I really don’t! I smile more,” she joked, having mentioned that she was finally able to smile a lot more in an episode she recently filmed. While the character’s sexuality won’t be her biggest character trait, it is integral to the series’ storyline — particularly flashback scenes to her days in a military school with a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
“That’s in a lot of the comics. It was important to me that we did that in the right way because of the gravity of that, and I believe we did,” she said. “I think we try to fit as much as we can into the pilot, but it’s not a lot of time. … I think it’ll be enough to satisfy people that have the mind-set on how they perceive those comics and which ones they gravitated toward the most, as well as understanding there’s going to be some little tweaks here and there and changes because it’s a long show.”
Another fundamental aspect to the character: That Batwoman is a character who has existed since 2006, and that her version of Kate Kane is hopefully the first of many to eventually air on television.
“I’m sure there’s going to be many other versions after this, and different actors will play her,” she said. “It’s an entity far bigger than me. But any version that I get to play, and the Kate that I’ve developed and love, she is a certain way. I look forward to seeing [more]. Who knows, when I’m 60 and I’m like, ‘Hey kids, I was Batwoman,’ they’re like, ‘Whatever.’ Selena Gomez’s great-granddaughter is Batwoman now. I’m sure that we’ll have many reincarnations, and I’m excited about that. But it’s definitely a legacy piece that I really think is important and that I dedicate all of my time to.”
Rose and Dries also spoke openly about Kate Kane’s faith — the character, as in the comic book source material, is Jewish and that will be written into the show. Dries also noted that a key scene in the pilot had to be cut out (likely for time) that referenced Kane’s Judaism. “We’re trying to find ways of incorporating that without it being a huge thing,” Dries said.
Still, all involved hope that Batwoman appeals to everyone beyond the LGBTQ community. “Hopefully they love the show, we think it’s pretty good,” Berlanti Productions topper Schechter said. Added Rose: “We want everyone to watch this, especially young people, who can identify and relate to people they’re watching on the screen and hopefully be empowered by that.”
Batwoman premieres Sunday, Oct. 6, on The CW.