By Michael Idato – Daily Life
For 33-year-old Australian actress Ruby Rose the journey from boxer-turned-actress to genuine leather-clad Batwoman began in 2018 at a meeting with Academy Award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood.
Atwood, whose credits include Chicago and Alice in Wonderland, had been persuaded by television producer Greg Berlanti to design a costume for the Arrow series and went on to costume both The Flash and Supergirl. When it came time to dress Batwoman, Atwood was the obvious choice.
“I still remember putting it on for the first time with Colleen, who is magnificent at what she does, and it was just a magical feeling,” Rose says. “It’s not like when you dress up for Halloween and sort of put something on. This thing has been fitted within an inch of its life, it fits me like a glove. Every single part of it has been designed for my body so it moves with me and I move with it, and it feels like a second skin for the most part.
“You feel the transformation unlike any costume I’ve ever put on in any role in my life. It’s just very difficult to pee in,” she adds, laughing.
Rose’s caped crusader made her television debut in last year’s Elseworlds crossover between Berlanti’s Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl. Batwoman’s guest role in the event was intended to foreshadow a pilot for her own series, which premieres in early October.
Working on those crossover episodes helped considerably, Rose says, as she tried to find the stance and grace of the character’s physicality, and the perspective of a hero in the DC Comics world who is not as well known as, say, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman or Batman.
Batwoman is relatively young in the Batman comic canon, having made her first appearance in 2006. (Batman himself dates back to 1939 and Batgirl – who is a different character – to 1961.) Batwoman’s alter ego, heiress Kate Kane, is Batman’s cousin who ends up donning the iconic bat-like mantle when Batman himself vanishes from Gotham City. The television series uses a slight twist on that storyline as its own launch pad.
Rose went into last year’s Elseworlds crossover with little information about the character, except what she could glean from the comic books. “I think it was easier for everyone else and quite difficult for me,” she says now. “We had an idea of where the series was going to go [but] there were a lot of question marks. So I just had to kind of shut off the noise and go with what I knew. When we got to the pilot, I was very thankful to fill in all of the blanks and all of the questions that I had.”
In the series the openly gay Batwoman/Kate Kane is the centrepiece of a jigsaw that includes her father, soldier-turned-security company boss Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott), and her ex-girlfriend Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy), who works for Kane’s company, and she returns to Gotham City to resolve painful issues with both. The series also stars Camrus Johnson as Wayne Tower security officer Luke Fox and Rachel Skarsten as Batwoman’s nemesis, Alice, who leads Gotham’s notorious Wonderland criminal gang.
One element that was important to Rose, who is gay in real life, was not to shy away from Kate Kane’s sexuality and the nuances of her relationship with ex-girlfriend Sophie who, while they were in military college, chose to deny their relationship.
“Touching on the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’, which happened in the comics, it wasn’t an experience that I have had in my life,” Rose says. “But when I thought about all of the people that were separated from their partners or were kicked out of the military, who had done these amazing things and fought for the country and risked their lives and then, over something as simple as who they loved, were separated or booted out, I immediately [felt] there was a lot of weight on that scene,” she adds.
Creatively, the series is led by producer Caroline Dries, whose credits include Smallville, Melrose Place and The Vampire Diaries, and executive producers Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, who oversee the Warner Bros-produced slate of superhero titles, Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, DC Legends and now Batwoman.
“When you have a passionate and talented story teller like Caroline Dries articulating the character and the story, it is so completely and utterly impossible to want anything other than to be a part of it,” Rose says. “I was drawn to the role because of what it meant in the bigger picture.”
It is, Rose says, a gift to play a character that has never been adapted for the big or small screen and is so beloved, “but it is a double-edged sword: on one hand it’s a privilege to be the first actor to play Batwoman, on the other it’s overwhelming if you think about it too much. You just have to go with your gut and find yourself in the script and remove any outside pressure.”
In addition to filming the first season of the Batwoman series, Rose will make another appearance in this year’s crossover event for DC Comics, which is based on the Crisis on Infinite Earths comic books.
The event has confirmed at least three previous Supermen, actors Tyler Hoechlin, Brandon Routh and Tom Welling, as well as animated Batman actor Kevin Conroy, Lois Lane actresses Elizabeth Tulloch and Erica Durance, and Burt Ward, who played Batman’s sidekick Robin in the 1960s era Batman series.
Rose says she is looking forward to working on the crossover event, which will air in two blocks: a trio of Supergirl, Batwoman and The Flash episodes in December, followed by Arrow and DC Legends episodes in January.
“[When filming the last crossover] I loved seeing that iconic moment of Batwoman and Supergirl, just the cinematography of it all,” Rose says.“It was just a really amazing moment, it felt really incredible. And I believe that there will be more of that. We are going to potentially do more work together as a team.”
Batwoman airs on Tuesday, October 8 at 8.30pm on FOX8. The Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover will air on FOX8 in December and January.