Leslie Grace has spoken at length for the first time about Batgirl‘s cancellation.
The actress was due to star as the titular character Barbara Gordon in the DC film, which was shelved last year despite finishing production. It was claimed at the time that it received poor test screenings, and that the film was reportedly written off for tax purposes.
Speaking to Variety about finding out about the axing, Grace revealed she learned the news when it broke in the media, recalling: “I found out like the rest of you. And then my phone just started blowing up.”
Reflecting further on how she felt then, the star admitted: “It was like deflating a balloon. On that day, I was very much just taking it all in, but also so sure of the magic that happened — in my experience and what I saw in my cast, in our team — that I was like, ‘This must be some crazy thing that we have no control over.’
“I tend to be a very optimistic and positive person in these types of circumstances, and I just really leaned on the beauty of the idea that I got to have this experience in my life. Even though I would’ve loved to share that with the rest of the world, nothing can take that experience away from us.”
New DC Studios co-CEO Peter Safran said last month that Batgirl was “not releasable” and “would’ve hurt DC”, and Grace was pressed on whether she felt those comments were justifiable.
“I had my own meetings with Warner Bros. Film Group CEOs Pam Abdy and Mike De Luca, and they explained to me, on a granular level, what they felt about the project, things that were out of their hands, plans and budgets that were set in place before they were even part of the team,” she replied.
“There are a lot of things that I learned through the experience about moviemaking, that as an actress you have no control over. They weren’t really specific on anything creative in terms of what they felt about the film and how it would’ve hurt DC creatively.
“But I’m a human being, and people have perceptions and people read things. And when words are expressed very lightly about work that people really dedicated a lot of time to — not just myself but the whole crew — I can understand how it could be frustrating.”
Asked whether there was anything that suggested the film wouldn’t work while filming, Grace noted that “in every film, there are obstacles, and our film was nothing short of that”.
“Half of the shoot was night shoots in Scotland, where it never stops raining,” she explained. “So there were obstacles, but at the end of the day, because of the incredible crew, nothing that ever got in the way of us delivering what we knew we wanted to deliver for this film. At least from what I was able to see.”
The star said that what she did get to see of the film was “incredible” and “definitely [had] potential for a good film”.
Grace also revealed that she hasn’t heard from Safran and co-chair James Gunn, adding: “But I wish them the best on all the plans that they’ve got rolling out. They’ve got a lot of projects to handle, and it’s not an easy job.”
As for the future of the character, Grace said they had “definitely had conversations about Batgirl’s future and how Batgirl can make a resurgence”.
“I think fans are looking forward to seeing that. We’ll just see where that takes us; I can’t say one way or the other if that is a reality at this point,” she added.
“I can’t speak too much about a future for Batgirl or guarantee anything. The last thing that I would want to do is give folks any kind of inkling of something that I have not much control over — as we’ve learned.”
Alongside Grace, Batgirl was due to star Brendan Fraser as Firefly, J. K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, and Michael Keaton as Batman. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah were co-directors, and previously disputed claims their film wasn’t up to standard.
“The guys from Warners told us it was not a talent problem from our part or the actress, or even the quality of the movie,” El Arbi said last August. “They told us it was a strategic change. There was new management, and they wanted to save some money.”