With her turn on Fox’s TV series “Gotham,” Camren Bicondova joins the ranks of a prestigious group of actresses who have played Selina Kyle — Michelle Pfeiffer and Anne Hathaway among them.
The young hip-hop dancer and actress said that she looked back to those earlier performances to help shape her take on the future Catwoman, who she plays as a street-smart, thief-with-a-heart-of-gold earnestness that’s fully in keeping with the rich, layered history of the character who first appeared in spring of 1940 in “Batman” No. 1 as both a foil and love interest for the Dark Knight.
Although she’s been in front of television cameras for commercials and most notably as a contestant on MTV’s now defunct “America’s Best Dance Crew,” she’s still a relative newcomer, and the 15-year-old said she was able to draw from her dance background to help her land the role on the new show.
Hero Complex spoke to Bicondova about her interpretation of the character and how spending time on the “Gotham” set is an enjoyable learning experience for the young star.
Hero Complex: Did you research Selina Kyle much before you were cast?
Camren Bicondova: Before I auditioned, I didn’t really know about the Batman world. When I was cast, I mainly focused on the comic books, but I also watched the movies and the Adam West’60s “Batman” show.
HC: So you were going for more Julie Newmar/Eartha Kitt, than Michelle Pfeiffer or Anne Hathaway?
CB: I watched all of them, so I was trying to use the characteristics that each woman plays. but then I realized that I’m playing Selina Kyle, not Catwoman, so I kind of get a little leeway because of that. Selina’s only 14, and the other women were… women, so if I played Selina Kyle sensual ways like they did that would be a little awkward. [Laughs]
HC: Who is Selina Kyle on “Gotham”?
CB: She’s a mischievous pickpocketer living on the streets of Gotham — just surviving. She’s 14 going on 30; she’s very mature for her age being that she had to grow up in Gotham on her own. She has a lot of layers to her. I think she’s catlike — like, for cats, even if they enjoy something that they’re doing, they act like they don’t like it. That’s what’s interesting for me to be able to play, the layers.
HC: Are you still a member of the 8 Flavahz dance crew, and do you think that your dancer background helped you get the role?
CB: I’m still in Flavahz — I just haven’t been able to perform with them because I’m on the other side of the country now. I am still part of them, and dance definitely helped me. For the audition, they actually asked us to prepare some cat movements. The breakdown said that it was optional, but I was trying to get a job, so I’m gonna do it. Using my dance, I was able to choreograph some cat movements. After I did the final audition and I got a callback and found out that I received the role, I found that I was Selina Kyle and not a girl named Lucy, who I originally thought [I was auditioning for]. I was excited and happy and freaked out all at once!
HC: How is it working on the set of “Gotham”?
CB: On set, it’s the total opposite of what you see on screen. The crew members are hilarious and the directors are always fun to be around and the writers are awesome. It’s just a really fun atmosphere. There is obviously a professionalism that is all around, but we all like to have a little fun. I personally like to talk to people when I’m not doing a scene, still acting as if I’m in Gotham when I’m on set because I don’t really like to break character since I sometimes get distracted. I may get distracted when I’m talking to people and having fun, then I have to check myself.
HC: Do you get to spent time with the other cast members when you’re not working?
CB: It’s personally hard for me to hang out with some of them because we’re all living in different parts of New York. That’s the only thing. We’re always trying to get together and have dinners. We actually just all went bowling the day before the premiere. It’s awesome to hang out since we’re all not in the same scenes.
HC: Have you thought about, or have the producers told you much about, what Selina Kyle is going to be doing in terms of a story arc?
CB: No. I think the writers are learning as they’re writing as well. I’m learning as I’m reading. It’s just a creative process where we’re coming up with ideas and working with DC Comics. I think it’s working. I don’t think any of us have any real idea of what she’ll become [on the show].
HC: Coming with the show is a certain amount of fandom, like the crowds that you’ve seen at Comic-Con. You’ve experienced a bit of that being on “America’s Best Dance Crew” and as a member of Flavahz. How has that transition been?
CB: Comic-Con was kind of an eye-opener for me. I knew that there would be a lot of people there but I wasn’t prepared at all. There were tons of people! It’s great, though, because since there were a bunch of people asking for pictures and autographs before the show even aired, it let us know that people were believing in our work and the show in general — and that was awesome. People are really excited about it now too, so that means they’re watching it, and that’s our goal. The support is appreciated, that’s for sure.
HC: Do you think that maybe you’ll be able to grow into the Selina Kyle/Catwoman role that most people are familiar with?
CB: That would be really cool to do, especially with a cast like this. They’re all really welcoming — since I’m a newbie — and I’m actually learning a lot from them and the crew and people on set in general. I think it would be an honor to actually grow up around these people. They’re such great people to be around that I don’t think that I would really want to be around anyone else if I was working.