With the second episode of The CW's Batwoman ready to take to the streets of Gotham this Sunday night, Javicia Leslie's Ryan Wilder will be busy holding things down on the Bat-front as she assumes the mantle of the city's newest defender. Meanwhile, Alice (Rachel Skarsten) was delivered a "gift" from Safiyah (Shivaani Ghai) that looks to bring a war to the streets of Gotham between the two "big bads"- with the city lacking in a defender to save it. And then there's the matter of the missing Kate Kane, because as you know: someone's not dead until we find a body. So with that in mind, Bleeding Cool had a chance to speak with Skarsten about where Alice's head is at now that Kate's gone, how Alice is going to handle the influx of new villains this season on Batwoman, why I Love Lucy is so important, and a whole lot more.
Skarsten on "I Love Lucy" and Lucille Ball Influences Growing Up: "I admire the boundaries that she broke down for women on television. Before her, they never really dealt with women being pregnant on television. How she had creative control of that show and her character I think is really quite miraculous. I really appreciated, and still do, the way in which she approached her physicality and specifically for her, comedy. I really try in all of my characters, specifically with Alice to develop the physicality of that character, because so much of our communications as humans is non-verbal, I think sometimes actors forget that your physicality is as important as the words coming out of your mouth."
Skarsten on Planting Her Flag in the DC Universe: "I was a huge fan of Batman when I was a little girl, it was really cool for me to be in that universe but I didn't really understand the weight of it the way I do now, as an adult. I think when I initially was trying to develop what my take on Alice was going to be I was acutely aware of the responsibility to all of the comic fans that all had, you know, perhaps grown up with this character with part of the mythology they read and felt like they knew her. So I always understand when people are more critical of actors' takes on characters because that character is their friend, you know? So I was actually really nervous to take on Alice and I wasn't sure how the reception would be of her. Also because she is a villain so I was, I think, really pleasantly surprised by how people embraced Alice. I got to get into that whole Comic-Con world with another project that I did, Lost Girl. It's been so fun for me seeing little kids and adults alike dress up as Alice and post on social media. I love to see that. I get the biggest kick out of that."
Skarsten on Whether It's More Fun Playing Hero or Villain: "Oh definitely the villain. I feel like the superhero, at the end of the day, has to be likable and has to be good. And while that's wonderful, and you need to see that (sic) you always get the great one-liners, and it's so much more delicious to be bad. I think I much prefer playing more to the side of the bad, however with the ability of redemption for good. My mom actually told me a couple of years ago that I play the redeemable bitch pretty well."
Skarsten on Alice's Initial Reaction to Kate's Disappearance: "I think in a way she is proud of that because she is probably a bit of a narcissus, But I think in another way it really sheds light on the fact that would even need to be a hero like that to counter the negative that Alice is putting out. I think that the weight of that kind of hits Alice. I was happy that they gave the responsibility of creating a new balance, however, I think that Ryan (Javicia Leslie) had all the qualities and was Batwoman, in many ways, before she even put on the suit. But I was happy they gave that to Alice because in the first season I really loved the connection that Alice had with Batwoman."
Skarsten on How Alice Feels About Someone Else Taking Kate Off the Playing Board: "I'm actually super pissed off about that [laughs]. Because I spent an entire season trying to kill her and Alice is very angry that it was in fact not her that killed Kate Kane, but I actually think that it's just a cover for this tremendous sense of grief she has for losing her sister. I don't think that even though she believes she wanted to kill Kate I don't think that she would have actually gone through with it."
Skarsten on What She Can Tell Viewers About S02E02: "Last season we teased it a little bit, this character Safiyah. Alice was always very afraid when the name Safiyah was mentioned, and we knew she (Alice) had some connection to Coryana. It was actually always the creator's intention to fill in the blanks of what happened to Alice after she left Cartwright palace to present-day Alice. How she became the leader of the Wonderland Gang and learned how to fight, and all of those things. And so we are going to delve, actually, quite deeply into that storyline which I am really happy about because it not only presents all these new characters for Alice to interact with but also Safiyah, in and of herself, is such an epic character in the comic books. I'm really happy that they brought her in."
Skarsten on How Alice Views the New Influx of Villains This Season: "You know it's funny because I know that I'm the villain of the show but in many ways, that's not how I see Alice. So this idea, people keep saying "Oh, The Big Bad of this season." And I'm like oh yeah I guess I am also a big bad of the show. I love that they bring on other malevolent characters and other forces of evil because it allows Alice to not have to carry the responsibility of always being the bad guy on the show. You can see all the different layers of her. I think in some ways she'll take a backseat to being bad, but of course, everybody loves to see bad Alice so I will never really go away."
Skarsten on the Responsibilities That Come with Representation: "I don't think the responsibility falls on me anymore more than it should fall on anyone in the entertainment business. It's really important to have those characters and not have them be just token characters, to tell their stories. That something I've actually really believed in throughout my career. In fact on Birds of Prey, had it not been canceled, there was talk of making Dinah a queer character. I played a queer character on Lost Girl. I was so happy to be a part of this show having a queer main character superhero, and now of course it being a woman of color. Yeah, I just think those stories need to be told and they need to be uplifted because television/ art should always be a reflection of the world and I think up until very recently it wasn't doing a very good job of that… Hopefully, some of my responsibility is already done being on the show and showing that's what I want to be a part of. Yes, of course, I think to continue to talk about it you know, lift it, that is my continued responsibility.
Skarsten on Alice/Beth's Future: "I think one thing that will surprise the fans is that there is love in store for Alice. Which is really interesting to me because it's just something that we have not seen. It's a situation really that we have not seen Alice in or Beth for that matter. I guess we teased it a little bit with Beth and Luke Fox and them maybe having a crush on each other."
Here's your look at the next chapter in Ryan's new life with The CW's Batwoman returning this Sunday with the second episode, "Prior Criminal History":
Batwoman season 2, episode 2 "Prior Criminal History": DOWNRIGHT BATTY — After her quick spin in the Batgear, Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) is back to facing the daily challenges of life as herself. Meanwhile, Alice (Rachel Skarsten) has a new, devious plan to get the attention of both Gotham and Safiyah (guest star Shivaani Ghai). With Kate still missing and the city in an uprising, Luke (Camrus Johnson) and Mary (Nicole Kang) are desperate to find a stand in. In a pinch, Ryan dons the suit again and comes face-to-face with Alice for the first time. Back at Crows Headquarters, Sophie and Commander Kane try to uncover who may have had a vendetta against Kate. Carl Seaton directed the episode written by James Stoteraux and Chad Fiveash.