EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Batwoman’s Javicia Leslie On The Flash Season 9’s Red Death Saga
The Red Death saga is officially over, as Javicia Leslie’s guest-arc on The Flash season 9 came to a conclusion tonight. Leslie, who was on The Flash Podcast back in 2021, returned this week to the show to talk about her latest visit on The Flash, but this time both as Batwoman AND the Red Death. Throughout the interview, the Arrowverse star discussed getting a chance to return to the franchise one last time while also getting to play a whole new character.
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The Flash Podcast: I’m so happy we get to speak today and about one of your coolest things ever in the Arrowverse with Red Death! First of all, how much fun how did you have coming back to The Flash, but then getting to embrace this whole different character?
Javicia Leslie: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. I think as an actor, anytime you get to play multiple versions of the same character and multiple realities of the same character, it really kind of stretches your ability, and you can learn from it and grow from it. It’s a lot of fun, and you’re playing in that stuff that I liked about it.
TFP: In terms of the whole lore, the whole mythology behind Red Death, when Eric Wallace pitched it to you, how much were you already familiar with this side of the DC world?
Javicia Leslie: I was familiar [with it] because of the comics. But definitely, I was really excited about the fact that it hadn’t been done and there was nothing there to compare it to. I could just create and, and really have fun with it.
TFP: I don’t know how much you worked with visual effects on Batwoman because I know it was very practical. But on The Flash, how was that experience for you as an actor getting to learn all the things that Grant usually has to do with the running and everything?
Javicia Leslie: All that was really cool to learn about, and there are things that I definitely did not know until I had my experience there. I talked about it before, but even how the speedsters speed in and speed out of scenes, seeing that experience was a lot of fun, cool, and funny at times. Then we had a lot of things that we had to imagine because it would be done in post. I love playing imagination, so I would ask questions when things weren’t clear to me. But if things were pretty clear, I just have my way of imagining whatever I knew within the paper that we were going to create.
TFP: Just a minor question that I had in mind because in this episode, they don’t really explain that part, but what was the story behind the grey streak in Ryan’s hair? Was there a creative reason for that or where did that come from?
Javicia Leslie: That was outside of me, but I believe that was something about just really having these two different worlds. These two different Earths version of Ryan and to really differentiate them is with the white streaks in her hair.
TFP: It was giving me very Jason Todd vibes, which I really loved. Something I also loved was you and Candice [Patton] getting to work together again, the fans were eating it up. They loved your scene so much last week, and I can’t wait for them to see you as Batwoman who is getting to hang out with her this week. How much fun did you have working with Candace but in this way compared to Armageddon?
Javicia Leslie: Well, for me, it’s all cool to play with friends and to be able to play make-believe with friends. So it was a lot of fun doing that. That meant that in between scenes, we would catch up on our lives and talk about stuff like that. It makes it fun having your friends at work. But that whole crew is really great, and that cast is really great. So it wasn’t just with Candice, but even when I was with Grant or other characters, we all bonded really, really well. I think it’s because they do have a really good flow of energy going on over there. They know what they’re doing so much that [when I was] coming on and not knowing what I’m doing – they may not even notice that I’m confused, so I have sometimes to say, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ [laughs] and they’re like, ‘This is how we normally do it when this is going on.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, now I get it.’ They have a really, really easy, smooth flow, and it really starts from the top because Eric is absolutely great. He’s done such a great job leading that show for the last couple of seasons.
TFP: I don’t know if you’ve seen this week’s episode and the finish cut. But were there any like references to Wildmoore, like any updates that just didn’t make it into the script or filmed version? Or was it more about just focusing on Ryan as Batwoman rather than not really address what has been going on in Gotham City?
Javicia Leslie: Yeah, we’re just saying that everything in Gotham is good as it is. What’s happening right now is Red Death, but everything’s happening is as good as it was when we left [Batwoman season 3]
TFP: I have to ask because I wasn’t expecting all the homages or the tributes to like other Batmen like, ‘I am vengeance’ or ‘Let’s get nuts.’ When you so see those references in the script, did you have a moment of ‘Oh, my God, I get to say these things!’
Javicia Leslie: Yeah, but I try my hardest not to look at them as iconic lines and just allow them to be what they are in the moment. Because then you don’t want to move too much into anything. So I responded to the circumstances that we had created, and what I really didn’t want to do is I wasn’t trying to play into what has already been done. It is important that it was natural, it was important that it didn’t feel forced too because it wasn’t trying to do what someone else did. Like my first line, ‘I am vengeance,’ I didn’t even go back and look at other actors saying that line, I responded to the circumstances I was in and it made me feel perfect for the moment. That’s how I wanted to do with ‘Let’s get nuts’ as well. Our only job is to heighten the circumstances so that everything feels real and immediate and, at times, dangerous. What are you going to do to heighten this to take it to the next level? That’s what I wanted to do when I got those pieces of dialogue.
TFP: How does this give you closure as an actor to get to come back one more time as Batwoman, have fun with everyone on this show and also play Red Death?
Javicia Leslie: Yeah, definitely. It did give great closure that I’m so appreciative of.
TFP: James Gunn is doing his new DCU. Would you want to come back to the superhero genre, maybe either as Batwoman on the big screen or like maybe a different DC character? or are you trying to focus right now on other genres?
Javicia Leslie: I would definitely come back. I love playing a superhero, I have so much fun and I would want to do it again and again and again.
TFP: Anything you want to say to people who will be reading this interview, or hearing this interview later on, whether they’re Batwoman, Flash fans or Arrowverse fans?
Javicia Leslie: It’s been such a beautiful honor to play in this world of imagination and using these amazing characters that have been created way before me. And to really just be able to bring them to life with such amazing actors, writers, producers, and editors. I love that we all got to do this. I love that I got to be a part of the Arrowverse. I grew up watching the Arrowverse, so to actually be in it was so amazing, so badass. We did some really epic, historical things and I’m just really excited for what’s next for all of us.
TFP: Javicia, thank you so much, for everything you have done in this franchise. Batwoman was something near and dear to my heart so I can’t wait to see what you have coming up in your career. Congrats on what has been an amazing arc this season with you in it as Red Death and hopefully we’ll speak in the near future about your next adventures.
Javicia Leslie: Thank you, Andy, I appreciate you. It’s always great talking to you.
“The Mask of the Red Death, Part Two” — (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) (TV-PG, LV) (HDTV)
THE ERA OF THE RED DEATH – As the Red Death wreaks havoc on Central City, Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) come up with a plan and turn to Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) for help. Barry is faced with what he thinks was his greatest mistake, and the Red Death’s greatest success. Khione (Danielle Panabaker) wants to help Team Flash, but Barry can’t risk losing her. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) gives Barry a very much needed pep talk. Rachel Talalay directed the episode with story by Jonathan Butler and teleplay by Dan Fisk (#905). Original airdate 3/8/2023.”