From executive producer/writer Bruno Heller (“The Mentalist”, “Rome”), “Gotham” is the origin story for a number of the characters in the Batman universe, including Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler and Poison Ivy, as it shows what made them the formidable adversaries that they eventually become. At its core, it is the story of Detective James Gordon’s (Ben McKenzie) rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil, and it chronicles the birth of one of the most popular superheroes of our time.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actress Camren Bicondova (who plays Selina Kyle, the future Catwoman) talked about what it means to her to get to be a part of the DC universe, not even knowing which role she was up for when she was auditioning, how special she feels to get to explore a side of the iconic character that we haven’t gotten to see yet, focusing on just the Selina Kyle aspect of the character, at this point, why Selina is so interested in Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), working with the different cats, Selina’s relationship with Jim Gordon, and that what she finds most fun about playing this character is also the biggest challenge. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
Collider: What does it mean to you to get to be a part of the DC universe, at a time when comic book and superhero stories are so popular?
CAMREN BICONDOVA: It’s great! Honestly, I wasn’t familiar with the whole DC comics world and the Batman world before I was part of “Gotham”. Now that I’ve been researching, it’s just great. I’m really excited to be a part of it.
How did you come to this? Did you go through an audition process for this role?
BICONDOVA: Yeah, I did. I was auditioning, in general, for acting and dancing jobs. I’m a dancer, too. I didn’t know I was auditioning for a girl named Selina Kyle. I thought I was auditioning for a girl named Lucy. When I found out that I got the role of Selina Kyle, I completely freaked out. I knew Selina Kyle was Catwoman. I didn’t know the details, but Catwoman is pretty cool.
With Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry and Anne Hathaway before you, Catwoman has quite the legacy. How exciting is it for you to get to explore her as a young girl, and get to show people a side that we haven’t really seen of her yet?
BICONDOVA: It’s awesome! The only three words that I can describe this experience with are awesome, an honor and grateful. Every synonym of those three words is me, at the moment. It’s great. I’m getting to show a side of Selina Kyle that nobody’s ever seen before, and that’s cool. I feel pretty special.
Obviously, the physicality is very important to your performance. How did you determine the way that she would carry herself and move around? Did your dance background come into play with that?
BICONDOVA: The description of [the character] was “street thief, pick pocket, orphan, tough when cornered,” so I just came up with a character based on that. And then, I used my dance background to incorporate the catlike movements. And I just did what I thought a pick pocket would do. That’s pretty much it.
At this point, do you just focus on the Selina Kyle side of the character, or are you always thinking about who she’ll become and the Catwoman side of her?
BICONDOVA: At this point, I’m focusing in the present, as in the past of Catwoman. I’m learning as I’m reading the scripts. I had an idea of how she would develop, but it wasn’t set. I knew that I would figure out how she was developing, the further we got into the season, so I’m not necessarily focusing on the future. I’m just focusing on which episode we’re on, and I’m doing it step by step. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable going from A to Z. I have to go from A to B.
Selina Kyle seems to have been watching Bruce Wayne for some time. When and why is she so interested in him? Is she interested in the possibility of financial gain, or does she see something of a kindred spirit in him?
BICONDOVA: I don’t think it has to do with financial gain. I think it has to do with the fact that now she has something in common with somebody else, and I don’t think she’s very used to that besides having something in common with the feral cats of Gotham. So, to have someone close to her age be in a similar situation is intriguing to her. Obviously, she’s on the streets of Gotham, surviving on her own, and Bruce is living in a mansion with a butler, Alfred, caring for him. But, they’re both suffering the loneliness of not having parents. I think that’s what intrigues her.
How strange is it to shoot scenes where you’re more of an observer than a participant? Is it odd to be present for what’s going on, but not necessarily interact with the scene itself?
BICONDOVA: Not really, honestly because I’m kind of like that in person. I’m more of an observer than an action-maker, personally, so that comes naturally. I have a cat at home, and I notice that that’s what he does to me, too. He just sits on his cat tree and observes everything, and he doesn’t really get off of his cat tree until I touch his favorite toy. So, it’s a personal similarity.
What’s it like getting to work with all of the different cats? Are you relieved that you are a cat person?
BICONDOVA: It would have been difficult, if I was allergic, but it’s really awesome. I love all animals. I just happen to prefer cats. They’re really chill, and they’re loving yet not loving. I relate to them, in a way. Not in the non-loving aspect, but they just keep to themselves and I like that. They’re independent.
Without revealing when or how you’ll finally interact, obviously at some point, Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne will have some direct interaction. What’s it like to get to work with David Mazouz?
BICONDOVA: We just recently started to get to work together. I’m not going to say what episode we’re on, but I have been able to work with some of the cast members and it’s really awesome. David is an amazing actor. Ben [McKenzie] is an awesome leader. I think of him as a set dad. He looks over everyone and makes sure everyone is okay and sees whether they need anything. It’s really awesome. I feel like it’s a second family. I’m really honored to be a part of this.
How do you view the dynamic between Selina and Jim Gordon? Why do you think she opens up with him, in a way that she doesn’t with other adults?
BICONDOVA: I think she’s also intrigued by Jim Gordon. Jim is not just another bad cop in Gotham City. He’s actually a good guy, and he’s trying to fix Gotham when it’s about to spiral into this black hole. I think she actually likes that about him. He’s someone who’s actually trying to do something rather than just sitting around, and I think she respects that. He’s genuine.
What can you say about your character’s personal journey, this season? Will we get to learn more about her family and where she comes from, as things progress, or will she always remain a little bit of a mystery?
BICONDOVA: I’m not sure. I’m actually trying to figure that out myself, right now. She’s really unpredictable.
Selina is a young girl living on the streets of a very corrupt city. What do you think not having any family or friends or people that she can really rely on does to a girl like that? How much do you think that’s affected her and turned her into who she is now?
BICONDOVA: I think that deep down inside it hurts her, not being able to go home to a mom and have her mom cook dinner for her and get to sleep in a bed with a bunch of blankets or have any toys to play with. For anyone, that would be really traumatizing. But I also think that it’s almost empowering for her to be able to know that she can witness a murder such, as the Wayne murders, and keep striving to do her own thing. She’s able to survive on her own. Even though it hurts and she still has a little hole in her heart because she doesn’t have anyone to depend on, it’s also nice to not have to depend on anyone.
In a city like Gotham, would you say that being able to sneak in and out of just about any situation is her biggest advantage?
BICONDOVA: Yeah, definitely. I feel like, if it was any other character, they would freak out about the positions that she’s put in. With my cat, I’ve purposely held onto him to see what he would do, and he looked around to see how he could get out. I think that’s when her catlike instincts are utilized.
What have you found the most fun to play with this character, and what has the biggest challenge been, as far as identifying with who she is?
BICONDOVA: I love playing her because there are so many layers to her, but that’s also the challenge. What I’ve been noticing is that you think she’s one thing, but because she’s catlike, she puts up a natural wall to where, even if she does like something, she doesn’t want anyone to know that she does like that something, so she acts like it’s nothing. That’s difficult, as an actor, at least for me, because you have to show the different emotions, but you also have to hide the emotions while you’re showing the emotions. So, that’s the challenge, but it’s also really awesome to be able to do that.
“Gotham” airs Monday nights on Fox.