DC’s latest blockbuster Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn) drops this Friday, but it’s very different to your average superhero flick. Set in the heart of Gotham City, a newly single Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie) is going at it alone; that is until she’s forced to team up with a group of superpowered women to take down the ruthless crime lord Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), and save a young girl (Cassandra Cain) in the process.
Want to get the lowdown on the stars of the film – and meet the new characters? Here’s everything you need to know…
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie)
In Birds of Prey the recently single and newly liberated Harley Quinn is living her best life, or at least that’s what she wants you to think. “At the beginning of the movie Harley and Mr. J break up,” Robbie says. “Though she’ll tell you it was her choice and that she’s handling it really well, you can see that it very much wasn’t, which is the classic unreliable narrator aspect of her that Christina Hodson [script writer] and I so enjoyed playing with.”
As for the new additions to the cast, Robbie was excited to see what it would be like for Harley to have a girl gang supporting her. “I wanted to see what Harley would be like without someone to take care of her, and it’s always been a part of my own life to have a group of girlfriends that do everything together. We’re a very mixed bag of personalities, but everyone loves each other despite being pretty different.”
Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)
One of the new additions to Harley’s squad is Helena Bertinelli, aka Huntress (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead). The iconic comic book character’s Dad was one of the biggest mafia dons in Gotham City; but Helena’s life took a turn for the worst when she watched her dear old Pops, and the rest of her family, being killed by some of his rivals.
“Huntress is definitely one of those great comic book characters who’s born out of pain,” says Mary Elizabeth Winstead. “She witnessed her family being murdered in front of her eyes when she was a child and has trained her entire life to be an assassin, basically, with the very focused goal of tracking down these men who killed her family and systematically annihilating them. Now she’s a killing machine on a manhunt. Fitting in with society or being social has never been on her radar and she’s not particularly interested in making friends. That’s not really part of her strategy.”
Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell)
Next up we’ve got Black Canary. Known across Gotham’s underworld as Dinah Lance, when we first meet her she’s working as a singer at crime lord Roman Sionis’ lounge club by night and his driver by day.
“She’s very much the Dinah Lance that we love from the comics,” Jurnee Smollett-Bell explains. “What I really wanted to capture was the essence of that character, and one of the things that I love about Dinah is her heart. She’s all heart. She’s all compassion. She’s also this amazing martial artist and expert street fighter; however, when we meet her in the film, she hasn’t yet become this powerful Black Canary that we know her to be, she hasn’t really owned her strength or power.”
Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez)
Also joining the crew is Renee Montoya, a detective in Gotham City Police Department who’s fully aware of Harley’s reputation. Determined to do whatever it takes to see Roman Sionis behind bars, she ends up teaming up with some of the city’s most wanted criminals.
“When I did my research on Renee Montoya in the comic books, I learned she’s much younger than I am. She’s also very angry about wanting to make the world a better place, but always being second-guessed,” says Rosie Perez. “What I had to do was not to try to act younger, but to bring the wisdom and the maturity that I have to the character.”
Cassandra “Cass” Cain (Ella Jay Basco)
Cassandra Cain is the final member of the group, and also one of the reasons the women team up. The savvy 12-year-old has learned how to survive on the streets of Gotham, but when she gets caught on the wrong side of Roman Sionis she ends up needing Harley and the crew’s help.
“When I read the script, I just loved Cassandra Cain. She’s a street girl without a family or a home, so she’s both really misguided and super independent. She has had to fight to survive in this world, until she meets Harley Quinn,” says Basco.
Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask (Ewan McGregor)
Crime lord Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask, is the big baddie in Birds of Prey. A merciless mobster with a penchant for torturing his victims, he places a hit on Cassandra Cain which kick starts the action in the film.
“I wanted to work with Margot, and then I saw [director] Cathy Yan’s movie Dead Pigs and really liked it. It reminded me of Trainspotting – something new and interesting, so I was excited to work with her as well,” says Ewan McGregor. “But mainly, I just liked the script. The dialogue was clever and very well-written, and I was happy to play the chief villain who’s all about control and power and thinks he’s so clever and wonderful. But of course, he’s a horrible, despicable person.”
Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina)
Last but definitely not least, there’s Victor Zsasz, Roman’s right hand man. Nifty with a switchblade, he’s the mobster’s musclebound security, who marks each of his kills with a cut on his own body.
And although Zsasz works for Roman, Chris Messina explains that “he has an agenda, too. His approach, I think, is simple. He looks at everybody as a zombie, and he’s setting them free, putting them out of their misery.” Chilling stuff.
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) will be released on February 7, 2020