Batwoman Interview: Peter Outerbridge on Black Mask, Season 2 & More

By the time the dust settled on Sunday night's episode of The CW's Batwoman, it was pretty clear that Peter Outerbridge's (Nikita, V Wars) Roman Sionis aka Black Mask will be making life hell not just for Ryan (Javicia Leslie) but everyone close to Kate Kane (Wallis Day)- and Kate's the weapon he's choosing to get the job done. By day, Roman is a pragmatic and charismatic CEO who plays the "white knight" against Gotham's corrupt systems. As Black Mask, he's an evil mastermind with a deep hatred of The Crows and masked vigilantes- one who's willing to tear down Gotham to enact his revenge. Heading into "Rule #1," Outerbridge took some time to speak with Bleeding Cool about who he thinks Black Mask truly is, where he sees the season going, what Batwoman represents to the season's big bad, and more. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

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Batwoman – Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Bleeding Cool: In this episode, Ryan faced a real-life 'Death Trap' just like Adam West and Burt Ward faced weekly on the Batman '66 TV show- only this one works. It even had a big 'Saw Control' label like the show. Is there an intentional homage to the classic series?

Outerbridge: When we shot that I remember saying to the director that this was awesome because it really did remind me of the Adam West Batman TV series. I thought you could very quickly just end it here and have a narrator come on and say "Same Bat-time, Same Bat-channel". What's brilliant about it is that Caroline (Dries- showrunner), the writers, and the designers have really, really, done it well. They have really brought Black Mask right off the page, and have been very true to the source material…You're certainly going to see a lot more black mask behavior that is straight out of the comic books.

Black Mask has been an iconic Batman villain since the mid-'80s. There have been a couple of animated versions and video games, but there has been only one other live-action Black Mask. What is it like to make your mark on the character and possibly set the tone for future portrayals?

I'll be honest with you, It's nerve-wracking. It's a huge deal. I'm a huge comic book fan. I know this character. I have read this character. When I did this audition, I did not know that that's who I was auditioning for. They gave you a pretty neutral set of sides, that they probably wrote just for the audition, I guess this is just a generic bad guy, I've never heard of this guy- Skull Face. After I was cast I called my agent. I just started putting pieces of the puzzle together and I called my agent and I said, just to be clear here, is this Black Mask?.. He called me 15 minutes later and he went 'Yeah, It's Black Mask, Roman Sionis.' I literally just about fainted. I thought, Oh no. Please God don't let me screw this up.

Sometimes he wears a mask, sometimes the mask is actually his head. So there have been many different interpretations of him. Sometimes he is crazy and zany and sometimes he's just full of menace and gravitas. We sort of went back, Ewan MacGreggor was brilliant, don't get me wrong I thought his take on it was fantastic. We kind of are going back to the (Black Mask creators) Doug Moench (Batman, Moon Knight), Tom Mandrake (New Mutants, The Spectre). Very source material. Empty-eyed, dead-eyed, not a lot of humor. He's still got some good one-liners but more menace and more gravitas. More, 'I'm just here to kill people.' Besides, I think it's a better way to go on this show. Alice has already got the zany thing covered. She has a monopoly on that character. So you don't want to fill the screen with too many jokey villains… This is a huge deal. I'm still kind of nervous. I don't want to screw it up. I don't want them to be disappointed. It does feel like there is a lot of weight on my shoulders.

What separates Black Mask from other Batman villains like The Joker or the Riddler?

I think that he has a vengeance that is specific towards- going back to the source material- he has a vengeance that goes back to the upper class, the glitterati of Gotham. Of which he is a part, but he just finds all of Gotham so hypocritical, that his intention is to show them basically how hypocritical they are. By basically corrupting the corrupt. And he goes into a lot of talk about wearing masks and what masks represent, in the comics, and how we all wear masks anyway. Because everybody is a False Face. Everybody lies to each other. We all wear masks to hide who we really are from each other. So I think his vengeance is very specific towards showing the hypocrisy of Gotham city.

I don't think Black Mask is a psychopath. I think he's a sociopath, but I think those are very different. For example, I would say that Alice might be a psychopath. The Joker is most certainly a psychopath. I would say that the difference between the two is that a psychopath doesn't know the difference between right and wrong. A sociopath knows the difference, they just don't care. And I think that's what sets aside Black Mask. So I think Black mask definitely has more control over his work, over his plans. Everything he does he has a very clear reason for it. He has a long endgame in play.

We have established that you want revenge for your daughter's death, but is your revenge solely focused on Kate Kane- or Batwoman in general? If Ryan takes off the cowl are they cool?

My vengeance on Gotham for the death of my daughter, who let's face it, that was a device created for the show. He didn't have a daughter in the comics. But It's a beautiful way of giving him a very clear motivation. .. I think to give him this daughter that we can just latch on to his motivations I think is a very smart move on the part of the writers.

His revenge is on Batwoman- on the symbol of Batwoman. On anything that is sort of representing Gotham City as the good guys. He finds it hypocritical. So he's going to bring them down. He's going to destroy them. It might have actually been different had Ryan decided to wear something else, right? If Ryan had chosen to wear anything other than that symbol maybe he would have left her alone. I don't know.

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About Jimmy Leszczynski

Jimmy Leszczynski has been blurring the line between comics and reality at SDCC every year since 1994, and was a nerd long before Lewis, Gilbert, and the Tri Lamdas made it cool. Middle aged father of 2 that REFUSES to grow up, lifelong Bat-Fan, and he thinks he's pretty funny.
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