Batwoman star Wallis Day breaks down Kate Kane's return and identity crisis
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday's episode of Batwoman, "Initiate Self-Destruct."
Day made her debut as the original Batwoman in Sunday's episode, "Initiate Self-Destruct," which revealed what Black Mask (Peter Outerbridge) has planned for the missing Kane daughter. As has been hinted to in the episodes leading up to this one, Black Mask, a.k.a. Roman Sionis, has hired Enigma (Laura Mennell) to brainwash Kate into believing she's actually Circe Sionis, Roman's daughter, whose death he blames on Batwoman and the Crows.
Firmly believing she's Roman's daughter, Kate donned a mask just like her dad and went out in the field to find Batwoman (Javicia Leslie). She ends up facing off with both Ryan and Alice (Rachel Skarsten), who teamed up to rescue Angelique (Bevin Bru) and Ocean (Nathan Owens). In the brutal fight, Batwoman shocks Alice by leaving her behind to be captured by Circe, which can't mean anything good given how sadistic Black Mask can be.
Below, EW chats with Day about her debut on the show, playing this twisted version of Kate, and more — and make sure you watch the latest installment of On Set with Batwoman, which contains more insight about the episode from showrunner Caroline Dries and the rest of the cast.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Showrunner Caroline Dries told me you auditioned for Ryan last summer. What was it like to audition for that role but then get cast as the new Kate Kane?
WALLIS DAY: Yeah, it was really interesting because I did audition for Ryan last year, and it was a long audition process. When we did the screen test with everyone, it started to feel quite real. Then they were asking me for different things to what I was doing. Just redirected me in completely different directions. I felt like they didn't really know quite exactly what they wanted. They were so open-minded and then after a few weeks, Caroline…I think she emailed me a letter actually. I can't really remember, but she just said, "We're going in a different direction." But she said then, "If we bring Kate back, I'll call you," or something similar to that effect. I was like, "Yeah, right." Everyone always says that kind of thing, whatever.
Did you go back and watch season 1 to prepare to play Kate Kane? What kinds of conversations did you have with Caroline about developing your performance?
I spoke in-depth with Caroline about what she wanted, and I watched all of season 1, and then they sent me all the episodes that they had filmed for season 2. I asked for the [season 1] scripts as well, because Caroline didn't want me to try and emulate what Ruby had with Kate. She wanted me to make Kate my own and portray her how I felt a Kate would or should be portrayed. So I wanted the scripts because I wanted to see what the writing gave instead of just the actress's version of Kate. And that was actually so telling because it gave me so much more insight in-depth into who Kate is as a person. I watched both seasons and read pretty much all the scripts.
What was the most significant thing you learned from reading the season 1 scripts?
From the scripts, it was definitely the relationship that Kate has with the other characters, 100 percent. And the cast was incredible. I FaceTimed with all of them individually before I started because I wanted to get their characters' POV on their relationship with Kate so that I could really make it authentic and like dig to get that chemistry. So definitely that from the scripts. And then Caroline is so knowledgeable about Kate. Like she just knows she is like a book of knowledge, like a fountain. She's just amazing. So I was constantly in talks with her, and we had a couple of Zooms about Kate, and she really helped answer all my questions that I had. But to be honest with you, a lot of the stuff that I had researched was online and Fandom.com, and I'd gone way back to like Katherine Kane. I knew all the different versions of Kate, and I just wanted to make it authentic as possible for the viewers, as well as myself and Caroline, etc.
In this episode, it's revealed that you're not only playing Kate, but you're also playing a Kate who believes she's Black Mask's daughter, Circe, because of Enigma's brainwashing. How did you go about developing your performance for that aspect?
It was so much fun...It added an extra layer to this character and, to be honest, a whole new dimension. And I think it's all about getting the balance right when you're playing a character that has been brainwashed. And I watched a lot of films and read a lot of stuff about people who have woken up from a coma and can't remember who they are or their identity or the people in their lives and about trying to record the memories and amnesia and just things like that. And it kind of feels like I'm playing two characters in one, which is just even more exciting.
And you had to wear a mask for the entire episode...
It was fine, actually. They're really good because the hardest part of it was that I felt like...I had to find new ways to express myself. So it would be taking parts of my performance and focusing my energy through my eyes because you can see your eyes through a mask. So it'd be about showing all of my performance through my eyes instead of just my body or my face. So it was challenging, and it was new, but also just a really cool thing to try and do because I've never had to do it before. They were really great on set because we would take it off in between takes. But it's hot. It's hot on that set because you've got the lights, and then you've got everyone there and then a mask on your face. It's hot. [Laughs] So I'm glad that it's off.
And in this episode you had a pretty intense fight scene with Batwoman and Alice. What was it like shooting that?
Oh my gosh, that was my first day! Wow, that was a day. So it was my first day [out of] quarantine because I had to quarantine for two weeks, and then they were like, "Just be prepared, cause the next week is going to be a lot." And I was like, "Oh yeah, I'm sure." But it was a lot. [Laughs] It was great, though. We were shooting on like a barge. So it was a location shoot, and it was the first time I had in-person met Rach, who plays Alice, and Javicia, who obviously plays Ryan and Batwoman. And it was really daunting coming on set for a night shoot with them because their characters are so powerful, and as people, they're so great that it was quite nerve-wracking because I didn't know anyone or anything. And then suddenly like me and Rach, we're just face-to-face, and they were like "and action!" And I was like, "Oh my gosh!" It was challenging, but it was really, really fun to do.
What is driving Circe?
Circe has been wronged, and I think misunderstood. She's trying to seek justice, and that hasn't been served yet. And actually, the opposite happened, I think. So someone in power used their weight to put her into Arkham. Basically, what happened to Circe wasn't just, and I feel like that's her motivation for going after the people that she's after, and that's her reason for wanting to work with her dad.
Black Mask and Circe are now holding Alice captive. What is Circe's dynamic with Alice like in the next episode?
They don't get on as I'm sure you can imagine. There's a big power struggle in that room, and they're both trying to get information off of each other. So there's definitely rivalry and a lot of tension between them. But Alice is obviously so smart, and I think she can see behind the mask. I'll leave it at that.
Caroline told me there are some pretty gruesome torture scenes coming up in next week's episode. What was it like shooting those?
Yeah, it was really fun. I felt like it was role reversal because I felt like Alice is always the one torturing other characters, but Rachel is such a ball of energy, and Peter, who plays Black Mask, is such a light as well. So we were doing these really dark scenes, but there was so much energy and happiness and excitement around the room that it kind of really made up for it. But it gets quite intense, those scenes, and Rachel plays Alice so well that it's hard to not feel like you want her to win, like you're on Alice's side for those scenes as an audience, I think, which you don't expect to be.
From your perspective, how deep is Kate's real identity buried?
There's definitely a bunch of identity issues, but also, I think that's Circe because she can be so conniving and manipulative. She can use that to her advantage in terms of people believing that maybe they have found Kate when actually she's got an ulterior motive. So that actually going to become one of her most powerful weapons.
Batwoman airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.