A look back at Batwoman star Ruby Rose's two-year journey in the Arrowverse
"I have made the very difficult decision to not return to Batwoman next season," the Australian actor, who played the title role, said in a statement. "This was not a decision I made lightly as I have the utmost respect for the cast, crew and everyone involved with the show in both Vancouver and in Los Angeles."
Rose didn't give a reason for her departure, and WBTV declined to comment beyond the joint statement it released with the CW and Berlanti Productions: "Warner Bros. Television, The CW and Berlanti Productions thank Ruby for her contributions to the success of our first season and wish her all the best. The studio and network are firmly committed to Batwoman's second season and long-term future, and we — along with the show's talented creative team — look forward to sharing its new direction, including the casting of a new lead actress and member of the LGBTQ community, in the coming months."
Her exit surprised many people, especially given the historical significance of the show. As Batwoman/Kate Kane, Rose was leading the first superhero show headlined by an openly gay character. Below, EW looks back on her two-year journey through the Arrowverse, from her casting all the way up to the crossovers she appeared in, and finally her exit.
The Orange Is the New Black alum was cast three months after Arrow star Stephen Amell revealed that the Scarlet Knight would be introduced in the annual Arrowverse crossover and one month after the CW announced it was developing a Batwoman solo series.
"I'm also an emotional wreck.. because this is a childhood dream," Rose wrote in an Instagram caption after the news broke. "This is something I would have died to have seen on TV when I was a young member of the LGBT community who never felt represented on tv and felt alone and different."
According to Batwoman showrunner and executive producer Caroline Dries, Rose possessed an ineffable quality they were looking for when she auditioned for the part. "As cliché as it sounds, [she had] the X-factor," Dries said. "It's just that she has that aura of cool, nonchalant, somewhat aloof, mixed with charming and thoughtful and funny, that it just kind of all made sense for her to be Kate."
Unfortunately, Rose, who identifies as a lesbian and gender-fluid, faced almost immediate backlash after being cast in the part, which led to her deleting her Twitter account and disabling comments on Instagram.
"Where on earth did 'Ruby is not a lesbian therefore she can't be batwoman' come from — has to be the funniest most ridiculous thing I've ever read," Rose reportedly tweeted before her account went dark. "I came out at 12? And have for the past 5 years had to deal with 'she's too gay' how do y'all flip it like that? I didn't change. I wish we would all support each other and our journeys."
The CW unveiled a first look at Rose in costume in Batwoman, and production on the 2018 crossover "Elseworlds" began in Vancouver, Canada. The three-hour event would mark Rose's debut in the cape and cowl before she (hopefully) spun off onto her own series. When EW visited the set of the crossover that month, Rose opened up about what playing Batwoman meant to her.
"The fact that she is an outwardly gay superhero, which is something growing up I would've loved to have seen on my TV, was a big deciding factor as to why I was so passionate about the role," Rose said. "This [role] just meant a lot more to me because I could relate in so many ways and, at the same time, felt like this was a job that would give me a purpose every day coming into work beyond just getting to live my dream, which is acting, and would be far more rewarding than anything I've done in the past."
Her Arrowverse peers were also excited to have her join their world. "I don't think there could be a better person for it than Ruby," Amell said during that same set visit. "We shot a scene with her last night, and her exchange with Grant [Gustin] was just, 'Oh, okay, this is Batwoman.' I think people are really going to appreciate it when [they see it]."
The "Elseworlds" crossover aired on the CW, with Rose popping up in all three parts. The Arrow hour, which was part 2, featured her most prominent appearance because she interacted with Oliver Queen (Amell), The Flash's Barry Allen (Gustin), and Supergirl's Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and was part of a major action sequence set during a prison break at Arkham Asylum.
In the wake of the crossover, the CW gave Batwoman a pilot pickup order.
The network officially ordered Batwoman to series, with Rose in the lead role. She would be joined by Rachel Skarsten (Alice), Camrus Johnson (Luke Fox), Dougray Scott (Jacob Kane), Nicole Kang (Mary Hamilton), Meagan Tandy (Sophie Moore), and Elizabeth Anweis (Catherine Hamilton-Kane).
During an interview for EW's annual Pride issue, Rose shared what she took away from the backlash to her casting almost a year earlier.
"I came to the States to get into acting, and I couldn't even get a manager or agent, so I made a short film based on my life because I had the time to do it," she said. "I put it online, just to say, 'This is something I wanted to do,' and it went viral, which I didn't ever expect. And then I got an opportunity to audition for Orange Is the New Black because they wanted to have a gender-neutral character. But I've also gotten backlash. And that's when you realize you have to keep up with the terminology. When I got cast as a lesbian in Batwoman, I didn't know that being a gender-fluid woman meant that I couldn't be a lesbian because I'm not a woman — not considered lesbian enough."
She continued: "My initial response was 'Pfft!' And then I was like, 'Wait. Let me just figure this one out. How do I right this wrong, because if someone out there is upset by this, I need to know why and how to fix it.' That's when I sort of said, 'I'm a woman that identifies as a woman. I'm not trans. But if being gender-fluid means that I can't identify as a woman at any point, then I guess I can't be that.' Maybe I need to make up another term, one that doesn't step on any toes. One where I can be fluid in my gender, but also a lesbian, because otherwise I'm not sure what I am."
Production began on the first season of Batwoman. "It has a completely different feel than any other job that I've done before," Rose told EW at the time. "I wake up and I feel a lot of gratitude and excitement for what's going to come in the day ahead."
Playing Kate Kane also gave her an opportunity to flex new acting muscles. "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. She's heavy. She has a really heavy heart for a lot of very valid reasons," Rose said. "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.'"
In an Instagram post, Rose revealed that she had emergency surgery months earlier because she injured herself while performing stunts on Batwoman.
"I broke my neck, basically, on the show," she told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. "I did a stunt for a very extended amount of time — for like seven hours — and we thought I broke a rib or just fractured a rib, and that was six to 12 weeks of healing," she continued. "So then I had six to 12 weeks of chronic pain and just kept assuming that was what it was until I kept seeing the doctors and they're like, 'It's your neck, it's your neck. It just radiates into these places because of nerve endings.'"
Batwoman premiered Oct. 6. Two weeks later, the CW gave it a full season order, bumping the episode count to 22.
December 2019-January 2020:
Rose joined the rest of the Arrowverse's heroes in the highly anticipated crossover "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and played a significant role in all five episodes.
Two days after Batwoman's (early) season 1 finale, Rose announced that she was leaving the show. Neither Rose nor WBTV or the CW gave a reason for her departure, though the network and studio promised they would cast another member of the LGBTQ community in the part.
Batwoman is expected to return in January on the CW.