As if Javicia Leslie's Ryan Wilder already didn't have enough to contend with heading into Sunday night's episode of The CW's Batwoman. First, there's the matter of her becoming Gotham's newest defender- even with Luke (Camrus Johnson) still having doubts. As that's going on, the streets of Gotham are getting ready for a nasty war that's about to blow up between Safiyah (Shivaani Ghai) and Alice (Rachel Skarsten)- all while Jacob (Dougray Scott), Sophie (Meagan Tandy), and the Crows hunt the new Batwoman. But no one said this season was going to get easier for Ryan- but it does get a whole lot deadlier when Victor Zsasz (Alex Morf) enters the scene. For those only familiar with the character from the comics or other media, in the Arrowverse Victor is a charismatic, skilled hitman with high, unpredictable energy. Proudly carving tally marks onto his skin for every victim he kills, Victor's in Gotham with a purpose, one that will bring him face-to-face with Mary (Nicole Kang)- and Batwoman.
Bleeding Cool had the unique opportunity to speak with Morf about his take on the supervillain, Victor's thoughts on Ryan, why the super-assassin needs the challenge, what it's like being part of such a groundbreaking series, the short film he wrote, produced, and directed (Ode to Psyche), and more:
Anthony Carrigan ("Gotham"), Chris Messina ("Birds of Prey"), and Tim Booth ("Batman Begins") have all taken a slice out of this character before. Did you take any previous performance of Zsasz into consideration or inspiration for your take on the character?
I had played the Arkham Asylum video games. I'd seen that performance in the video games. The only other one that I think that I knew very much was Anthony Carrigan's. Which I thought was just brilliant. I'm such a big fan of his work. I think that he's a great actor. I think this thing, I hope that I was able to keep what he did was sort of a playfulness of Victor Zsasz. There is a little bit of a lightness, a sense of humor. That is such a great contrast to his violence. I think that I can say that we have that in common. This Victor is a little bit further along in his career, I think and I think that allows for him to be a little bit different in some ways. Batman is gone. Probably the big fights are behind him in some ways so he's able to be a little more introspective. (He) doesn't have anything to prove, and is still a master at what he does. Which is murder people.
So what did it take for you to get into the character of Victor Zsasz?
I had such a good time, you know the people who design the sets, and place props and everything, are so good and thoughtful about that stuff. I went around that apartment and I looked at every book that Victor owned. So you know, what he had bought, and his attention to style and all that kind of thing. I definitely think that he does. Because of his past, he appreciates fine things… I love that he plays Candy Crush on his phone, or whatever that game is. He's both like a little bit of a snob but also sort of recognizes that it's meaningless. There is a little bit of both in there.
Does Victor have a history with Kate Kane? How does he know that Ryan is not Batwoman?
Well, I can say is, I think that Victor always has his ear to the ground. But I think he knows what's going on. I also think that he's, it's interesting he's really perceptive about people. He loves people and is curious about people. I think when he meets this Batwoman he immediately recognizes that she's new. He can tell certain things about her because he's perceptive.
When Victor and Ryan meet, he tells her, "I don't see the 'you' in Batwoman." What are your thoughts on his meaning behind that?
I think that she's feeling that as well, that she's not comfortable. I do think that maybe she's a little surprised or taken back that Victor really sees her in that moment, and kind of calls her out on that. I think Victor sees the potential in her. I don't know, this is not the writing or anything it's sort of just my opinion. I think that he kind of misses having a worthy adversary to lock horns with and I think that he sees something in her that she could have something but she's maybe not there yet.
So for Victor, it's about having another "Batman"- another worthy challenge?
I think so, I think Victor it seems like he is, in some ways a little bit obsessed with pain. With cutting himself and everything. I think that he thinks that is the boldest flavor in the meal of life is the pain. You know? It's sort of his messed up idea of love too. If he can find somebody that is capable of just destroying him, he has finally found a thing that will make him feel total bliss.
Were you having as much fun playing Victor as it comes across on screen?
I had a blast. It was an absolute delight to play. First of all, it was a delight to return to a set. Because most of us had been out of work for a long time because of the pandemic. And to get to come back with such a delicious juicy role that's so fun and, uh, complicated. I had an absolute blast.
Victor Zsasz says he's a self-proclaimed "sucker for lesbian drama" at one point. How does it feel being part of the first primetime series featuring a lesbian superhero of color as the lead?
I couldn't be more proud to be associated with it. I think that it's really bold and the people that they've chosen to be representatives of those groups are absolutely incredibly talented and up to the job. I think that it's awesome.
When can viewers expect to see "Ode to Psyche," the short film you wrote, produced, and directed?
Oh man, I hope soon. It's a short film that I made almost two years ago now. It has gotten hung up in the editing room in large part because of the pandemic. It's just gotten really slowed down. But I really believe in it. I have adapted it into an hour-long screenplay, which I am really hoping will go somewhere. It's sort of a sci-fi subject. It's about a young genius who is fluent in all these ancient languages. He's a college freshman, but he's riddled with social anxiety. He almost can't be in public because he has such bad social anxiety and he follows a flyer that is advertised for people who don't know how to be. He finds himself in a very strange hipster doctor's office in remote Brooklyn with two scientists who offer him an elixir that they say can make him feel like himself for the first time. I have a lot of amazing actors in it. I think that it's going to be really cool, but it has not been easy to complete.
Batwoman Season 2, Episode 3 "Bat Girl Magic!": NEW HERO, NEW SUIT – As Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) continues to prove herself as Batwoman, she encounters the challenge of every superhero — living a double life. Mary (Nicole Kang) is still Team Ryan, while Luke (Camrus Johnson) continues to have reservations — especially when Ryan makes some alterations and unveils a new Batsuit! Meanwhile, Victor Szasz (guest star Alex Morf) is slashing his way through the city streets, and Commander Kane (Dougray Scott) has The Crows trying to stop the flow of Snakebite through Gotham. Safiyah (guest star Shivaani Ghai) takes notice of Alice's (Rachel Skarsten) antics and Sophie (Meagan Tandy) finds herself in unexpected circumstances. Holly Dale directed the episode written by Nancy Kiu.