Showrunner Caroline Dries explains her 'back to basics' approach to Kate Kane and 'Batwoman'

By Chancellor Agard
July 18, 2019 at 12:00 PM EDT
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Batwoman has been in production for only a few weeks, but Ruby Rose is already loving it. “It has a completely different feel than any other job that I’ve done before,” says the Orange Is the New Black alum, who appears on the cover of the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. “I wake up and I feel a lot of gratitude and excitement for what’s going to come in the day ahead.”

Rose’s red-haired vigilante grappling-hooked into the Arrowverse in last December’s “Elseworlds,” but the actress’ new series is set before that topsy-turvy crossover. Premiering Oct. 6, Batwoman begins with Bruce Wayne’s cousin Kate Kane (Rose) returning home to a beleaguered Gotham after years of training, and picking up the Bat-mantle in Bruce’s absence. “She’s everything that I wish I could be, that I had the guts to be,” showrunner Caroline Dries says of her heroine, who is the first out LGBTQ superhero to headline a television show. “She’s a really courageous, no bulls— badass who knows herself very well and is not afraid of sharing that with the world.”

In season 1, Kate’s war on crime will pit her against her nemesis, the psychotic Alice (Rachel Skarsten), as well as a rogues’ gallery of Batman foes. “In episode 3, we have a pretty serious Batman villain show up thinking, ‘I’m going to f—ing kill Batman,’ ” teases Dries, who is taking a cue from Arrow and making sure Batwoman remains as grounded and gritty as possible (at least until the annual crossover). “Batwoman is the only caped crusader in town. We’ll have bad guys show up wearing their own versions of disguises, but in terms of costumed good guys or bad guys, it’s just Kate in hers.” She continues, “It’s very tempting to jump to what the other shows are doing now because that’s the world we’re living in. But I keep going back to what was Arrow season 1? [We’re aiming for a] back to basics of a girl kind of discovering the awesomeness of this Batsuit, all of this Bat tech that she has access to, and just keeping it simple.”

Carlos Serrao for EW

Looking further ahead at the season, Dries is particularly excited to explore Kate’s romantic side. Yes, there’s her old flame Sophie (Meagan Tandy), whose kidnapping lures Kate back to Gotham, but Dries teases that we’ll see Kate date around, too. “I love all the Bat-gadgets that we do in the fight scenes and the action is right up my alley, but the thing I love about the show or all of these new character dynamics that are unfolding, and one of the things I love writing regardless of genre, is the romantic elements of the show,” says Dries. “For Kate, a big part of her identity is her personal life, obviously, and what she’s doing when she’s not Batwoman. One of the things she’s going to figure out pretty early on is, ‘Oh, I now see why there was no Mrs. Wayne.’ It’s because it was very hard to be the hero of Gotham and have a love life. So her personal life will have its due time on screen, and she’s trying to grapple with how do I be Kate and also be Batwoman.”

For Rose, playing the caped crusader has been an opportunity to stretch out of her comfort zone and explore a character with a lot of emotional baggage from not only her mother and sister dying tragically when she was younger, but also from being expelled from the military academy for being gay. “I feel like up until now I haven’t really been given the opportunity to play a character that has these dynamics of such severe trauma and such heartbreak and betrayal and loss. SShe’s heavy. She has a really heavy heart for a lot of very valid reasons,” says Rose. “I actually said to Caroline — It only hit me during the pilot — ‘I am so thankful that you are the first person to believe in me as more than an action star, or even in the mean girl rock star [in] Pitch Perfect.’ No one up until now has really been like, ‘Yeah, you know what, you can play a real person with all these things going on and dealing with more than just being kickass.'”

But, for the record, kicking butt as Batwoman is indeed really cool. Says Rose, “When I put that suit on, everything kind of changes and you feel a shift in your energy.”

Carlos Serrao for EW

Batwoman premieres Sunday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

For more on how the Arrowverse saved the TV superhero, pick up the August issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands July 25-26. You can buy all five covers, or purchase your individual favorites featuring Arrow, The FlashSupergirlWhite Canary, and BatwomanDon’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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