SUITING UP
SFX|January 2021
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE ACTOR PLAYING THE TITLE ROLE LEAVES YOUR SHOW? CAROLINE DRIES EXPLAINS HOW BATWOMAN BEGINS AGAIN
TARA BENNETT
BACK IN OCTOBER 2019, WHEN THE CW’s Batwoman hit small screens as the latest series in the Arrowverse, no one expected the twists and turns audiences would weather. While the series itself offered up plenty of jaw-dropping moments for Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) and her inner circle Bat Team in Gotham City, what happened off screen proved to be just as unexpected. In May 2020, Rose announced that she and the producers had decided to part ways and that the role would be recast.

A relatively rare occurrence to happen for any series already a season deep, the loss was particularly devastating to the show’s narrative because Rose’s Kate Kane was central in connecting all of the villains, ensemble characters and familial intrigue. Showrunner Caroline Dries admits to SFX in a call from her Los Angeles office that looking to draft a second season anew was, therefore, a pretty overwhelming task. “It’s just the lead of your show, and the show is called Batwoman,” she sighs resignedly.

But using the character as inspiration, Dries rolled up her sleeves and got to work fixing the problem. “My number one concern and challenge, as the mind behind it all, was to be in the audience’s point of view through this process,” Dries explains. “The audience is going through the same thing I’m going through, which is, ‘This is a devastating blow’. So how can we all be on the same page about how we’re feeling about this new character? I really loved Kate but was like, ‘Okay, we did that. Now, what’s the opposite of that?’”

Looking outside of the bubble of the Kane family’s circle of influence, Dries says she asked herself some key questions. “I asked, ‘Who is somebody who wasn’t born into privilege? Who didn’t get her choice of schools to go to? Who could just leave college if she felt the need to and be okay? Who can just not work and do whatever job they want to do, and wait around for inspiration to strike?” she jokes. “And it was really important to create a character who was, of course, interesting, bold, powerful, worthy of being that woman, but also really likeable and relatable. Within these paradigms, Ryan Wilder emerged in my mind.”

Dries says they were starting auditions for Ryan by the time the May announcement came out. “As we’re kind of building this character, we’re meeting all the actors that were auditioning. It was a brave new world of Zoom auditions – which was intimidating for the actors, to have us basically into their home and be live.”

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