Sam Littlefield plays Mouse on The CW's Batwoman, but being Alice's majordomo isn't the only trick this multitalented actor has up his sleeve. In a wide-ranging interview with Bleeding Cool, we talked about his thoughts on the breakout show, acting, how he's dealing with life under social distancing, and why his film Mother's Little Helpers may be the perfect quarantine movie.
"It's actually been a very epic kind of a journey for me." Littlefield recounts his Odyssey of travel from wrapping on the set of Batwoman on their final day of shooting for the season. "We finished filming the finale at like 8:30 in the morning and they were gonna put me on a plane at like noon" on the same day a national emergency was declared over COVID-19. Not wanting to get on a plane, he then found himself on a Greyhound bus from Vancouver to Seattle "holding Lysol wipes up to my face and then being like, Oh, my God, I'm on a bus! What am I doing on a bus?!?" After staying with family, then heading down the coast (and after chipping a tooth!) he finally found himself at home after a few weeks.
And how's he been dealing with quarantining? "I kind of blended together Julia Child's and Ina Garten's beef bourguignon recipes and made it kind of my own. And it was the best thing I've ever made in my life." Cooking has been a major creative outlet, with everything from oysters to homemade sausage on the menu, with Littlefield admitting, "Every day has been kind of an attempt at making something special out of it just [to] keep sane and give everyone an opportunity to express their own creativity through food."
Littlefield's New Film Mother's Little Helpers Is Now Available
But Littlefield is not only a maestro of self-expression in the kitchen but a strong collaborative partner in other aspects of the creative process. In his newest film, Mother's Little Helpers, which premiered at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival and just became available to stream and purchase, Littlefield (and other members of the cast) wrote and improvised most of their dialogue based on the direction and a story outline by director Kestrin Pantera.
Appropriate to this moment, the movie is about four siblings who go home and are stuck in isolation waiting for their mother (SNL alum Melanie Hutsell) to die. "And they're all losing their minds. And it's this heartwarming comedy that is accidentally so much more relevant than any of us had ever anticipated."
As seen in the trailer, the film deals with being stuck inside with family, the weirdness of electronic communications, and other topics suddenly incredibly relevant. "It's a quarantine film. It was a quarantine film before we knew that there would be a quarantine coming up. We watched the film with my sister and my brother in law, and we were just also astounded at what we had made. Looking at it retroactively and seeing how familiar it is to this experience that we're going through right now. I'm hoping that it's going to kind of comfort people during this time, giving them the opportunity to see sort of their experience reflecting back at them."
Littlefield also described his SXSW experience of traveling around Austin in an RV that they had converted into a mobile karaoke bar, which is possibly the most SXSW thing ever. And, appropriate to his playing Mouse, Littlefield also revealed his go-to karaoke song is "The Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera.
Littlefield Discusses Life in the Batwoman Universe
So what's it like being one of Gotham's biggest bad guys? "I don't see him as a victim or a villain. I know when he kills people, I don't really think he thinks it's really real. To me, it's almost like he's still in that basement playing with. G.I. Joes and Barbie or playing a video game. I don't think that it really registers to him really quite like what he is necessarily doing." It's a sympathetic take for someone who can be monstrous and seemingly psychopathic at times, but it's that kind of pathos that has imbued Littlefield's performances as Mouse thus far.
Littlefield hopes he has taken us on a journey through the character. "It's been really interesting seeing audiences not know what to think of Mouse and not liking Mouse and then finding moments where they actually do like him. That hospital bed scene … was so big for me, having carried Mouse in my heart. I hope that was a turning point for a lot of people."
What he really hopes is people will see themselves and their own traumas and family drama in Mouse and take comfort and lessons in that. "And I just think about, like, I don't know, abuse and how karma can rear its head in your adulthood in weird and unfortunate ways. And I just think that Mouse is sort of the poster child of that."
There's such a menace and a temper to Mouse, but Littlefield again tries to imbue him with pathos and sympathy from the audience. "At the end of the day, I just think he's kind of a lost soul searching for a home. You know, in a place where he doesn't feel judged. He walks around with this placard–as a burn victim–on his face. Every interaction he has, like it's right there, and when you think about him as a little boy. For a little boy to get marks that way is so devastating. You're immediately just seen as an 'other'."
So What Comes Next for The Wonderland Gang?
But, of course, there'd be no Mouse without his relationship with Alice. "Upon first glance, it just looks so toxic. And but, you know, when you delve deeper, they shared such a unique and traumatizing childhood that only they can relate to. And they share this comfort with one another." And what motivates him? "He's a survivor. And I think that he is like everyone and wants to be loved."
So much of what helps make Mouse work on the show is his interactions with Alice onscreen, and we talked about how the two actors worked to achieve the right chemistry. "Rachel is such a smart and lovely person and she's just a wonderful collaborator in this stuff. We really got close throughout the course of this season. And I really consider her a dear friend."
As for what's coming up at the end of the season of Batwoman, Littlefield was, well, as quiet as a mouse on details, but did tell us we could expect some thrills. "These are some of my favorite scripts that I've read throughout the entire course of this season, and when I heard about what was coming out, I was excited for months. But we have two awesome guest actors that come in and it's just a very exciting ride." "I hope people will dig it."