Leslie Grace Talks 'Batgirl' and Getting 'Rough and Tough' to Play Barbara Gordon (Exclusive)
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Leslie Grace went from triple threat -- actress, singer, dancer -- to quadruple threat when she added "superhero" to her CV. After breaking out in In the Heights, which marked the newcomer's first-ever acting role, Grace booked the role of Batgirl in her own standalone movie.
While visiting the set of Grace's music video for her new song, "Bachatica," ET's Deidre Behar welcomed Barbara Gordon herself into the DC universe. "I'm just excited to prove some new things to myself, try new things and shatter any limitations that I might have in my own brain," Grace said. "I feel so blessed to be able to do the things that I do every day -- that are really my passions -- and also be able to do it with people that are just excellent."
Batgirl won't premiere on HBO Max until 2022, but Grace revealed how she found out she was cast in the title role, talked getting "rough and tough" to play Barbara and reacted to reports that J.K. Simmons, who played Commissioner James Gordon in Justice League, will reprise his role as her onscreen dad.
ET: I want to formally congratulate you: You are Batgirl! How did you find out that you've got this incredible role and how did you react?
Leslie Grace: Oh, man! It was a crazy shock. I mean, obviously I had been auditioning. It was a whole process, you know? But it was just, like, mind-bending. It's still mind-bending to think about it, and we're about to embark on this insane journey. But I found out via Zoom, because COVID world. The directors and the studio were on, and they kind of try to make it a surprise. They tried to make it like I was doing a final test, and then they sent me an email saying, "I'm Batgirl" and had me read it. And I was just like, "I'm not reading that! I don't know what's happening right now!" [Laughs]
You thought that you were auditioning again? Oh my gosh.
Yeah, I thought that I was doing a follow-up test. I had self-taped and I had read, did a chemistry read and I thought we were doing another read, like an in-the-moment read, and then they just had me read that line. It was insane. It was beautiful. It's a blessing. I'm so excited about the character. I'm excited to nerd out with all of the comics. I've already been doing so much research on it and I'm excited to learn how to kick some butt, too, because your girl, she's going to have to get rough and tough to be Miss Barbara Gordon. So, I cannot wait.
What will surprise fans most with your take on Batgirl?
This is only my second role, but I'm learning from my colleagues and other friends of mine that you put a little bit of yourself into each character. And just in the bit of research that I've been doing leading into pre-production, I've learned a lot of things about Barbara that are very in line with me.
She's someone who's been underestimated by even her own dad and being the youngest kid, sometimes you're insulated from all of the tough stuff of life and she's so eager to prove to herself and to everybody else that there's some things that she can handle. So, this journey is definitely going to show me a lot of that. I feel like I'm on an endless journey of proving to myself what barriers I can break, what limits I can break for myself and I'm excited to put a little bit of that eagerness and drive and, like, almost a bit of stubbornness into Barbara's character.
Have you seen the costume? Have you tried on a costume?
No, I'm dying! They haven't told me anything, I honestly cannot leak anything, even if I knew. But I have no idea! I think probably until I head off, I won't know much, but I'm dying to know what that outfit looks like. I know that I'm going to be fitting, like, 35 different fittings for this costume. [Laughs]
Well, it's a big deal!
It's a big deal, so we want to get it right. I'm excited to see what that process is going to be like. My mom's dying to know.
Of course. She wants to know the glam, the wardrobe--
Yeah, she wants to know hair, everything!
I think you saw the clip of ET telling Margot Robbie that you had landed the role of Batgirl, and her reaction was so incredible. She's ready to call Warner Brothers and link up!
I was freaking out! I'm such a fan. I can't even. She's one of the biggest, badasses in the superhero world. I haven't had a chance to meet her, but it would be awesome if at any point Batgirl comes through and Miss Harley Quinn drops by Gotham and have some business to handle, it might be cool!
I think you're onto something. Do you want to send a message to Margot?
Miss Margot, hi. I just want to say I'm a huge fan and if you think it's a good idea for Harley Quinn to stop by, we're welcoming all of the help. Batman's out -- he's doing a whole bunch of stuff -- so I'm going to need some of my ladies to help me out on this next run, you know what I'm saying? We love you.
What does the name J.K. Simmons mean to you?
Oh my gosh! What?! I am freaking out about that.
If he were to play your dad, how would you feel about that? Let's speak hypothetically here.
I'm ready to learn a lot from J.K. Simmons. If you're listening, huge respect and please play my dad! I hope you're my dad.
Describe Batgirl in three adjectives.
Determined, capable and I'm going to give you a hyphenate. Or a compound word? Purpose-driven. Maybe not a compound word -- I don't know grammar -- but you know what I'm saying!
Stay tuned to ETonline.com for more behind-the-scenes scoop from the set of Leslie Grace's new music video for "Bachatica," coming soon.