Clock Tower was able to have the opportunity to interview
Laeta Kalogridis, who wrote the pilot episode of Birds
of Prey and developed the series for television. We are
very happy to be able to share this with the fans and hope
this sheds some light on what to expect this Fall.
do not reprint this interview or portions of this interview
on any magazine or other website without consulting the
did you become involved with the Birds of Prey project?
actually had contacted because they had wanted, I guess for
some time, to make a series out of the comic book, and I was
familiar with the comic. And I sort of came in for a meeting
with them and started talking about the ways I'd like to do
it, and we just were really in sync, and it just kind of went
forward from there.
hear you have a history of writing butt-kicking female characters?
like to, it's what I like to do. I enjoy writing ... empowered,
physical women. It's my favorite thing to do. And so this
was really an opportunity to kind of do that. The stuff I've
done features-wise, a lot of which hasn't been produced, has
focused either [on] Joan of Arc, and Modesty Blaise, and Tomb
Raider. It's focused a lot on women who had kind of these
adventurous personalities, and comic books are a place where
there's a lot of adventure. So, sort of a natural fit. And
I did a draft of Catwoman. But then again, just about everybody
has done a draft of Catwoman.
you a fan of the comics?
was, but I think it's pretty obvious to anybody who has read
the pilot script or who sees the pilot, that I was very enamored
of [them], they would do crossover stuff where they'd bring
in, um, Huntress or Catwoman and ... I was really enamored
of the pre-Crisis Huntress. That was the cycle of DC stories
that I was always really taken with. I liked Helena as Helena
Wayne a lot. And ... I was sad when that character essentially
was removed from continuity. And I started seeing this as
an opportunity to take the Barbara from present continuity
and the Helena Wayne that I had really loved from that pre-Crisis
cycle, and put them together. One of the interesting things
about the evolution of the pilot was that we took the comic
book and we explored a lot of things that were taken from
other places. I mean, obviously it's an Elseworlds story,
but there's a little bit of Dark Knight Returns in there,
you know, with the whole Batman going into kind of self-imposed
exile. And there's obviously a great deal of the Killing Joke,
and there's pre-Crisis Elseworlds stuff. Just generally, there's
Harley Quinn, who really originated through Paul Dini as an
animated character. So we were kind of pulling from other
places within DC mythology and bringing them all together
under that name. But it's actually a wider net than the Birds
of Prey title itself.
you a fan of the animated series?
enjoy it, but you know, I watch it because my son watches
it. But yeah, I do like it actually. And I like Batman Beyond,
and you know, I have enjoyed the freedom that I think the
animated series has had to be really close to the comics,
but explore cool character stuff, and to be able to do it...
you know, when you're waiting for a movie, it's years and
years and years in between films, and so many things that
get involved... you get so much more story out of the animated
stuff. And it feels so much more mythologically -- I'll get
in trouble for saying this -- it felt more mythologically
deeper to me. But I also feel like it's great because of it's
accessibility to younger people. I mean, my son is three and
a half, and he loves that stuff. And I think that's really
mentioned Batman Beyond. Is there any chance of Terry McGinnis
don't think so. We're trying really hard to focus on the girls,
and not on either Batman, past or future. Because it's sort
of about their lives going forward, so I doubt that we will
do that. But you know, one of the wonderful things about a
television series is that it gives you all this kind of freedom
with the characters to go so many different places. And I
think it's really hard to predict what you're actually going
to do when you're just at the very outset of that.
there anything about the development of the series that kind
of evolved and took on a life of its own and surprised you?
actually think the Detective Reese character did, because
he's kind of our creation. I mean, we filmed more of him than
we ended up being able to show in the pilot, but his chemistry
with Helena and his kind of groundedness as a character, sort
of being a way to see Gotham through more "normal"
eyes. I think we hadn't realized just how much fun that was
going to be. So he is my favorite [character] ... we kept
writing stuff for him.
Reese be a regular character on the series?
fuels Barbara Gordon to keep going on? Why does she keep the
for me it's exactly what it is in the comic. Which is that
she went through a period of re-evaluating her life and of
real despair. I mean, I think she did go through a period
of feeling like her life was over. And then she had this kind
of quasi-mystical experience where she felt like she'd seen
the Greek delphic oracle, and she really did believe that
she had a different purpose than she thought she had. She
had believed that what she was about was ... kicking butt.
And now she's ... a crimefighter in a totally different and
oddly, ultimately, I think, more powerful kind of way than
before. So what keeps her going is that the actual idealism
of crime-fighting is something that [is] so ingrained in her
that she can never give it up. I mean, she'll be fighting
bad guys with her last breath. That's just the kind of person
she is. And she might walk away from it for just a little
bit, but she'll never let go of it entirely. Because it's
the human being that she is; justice is her life. Which is
one of the things I really like about her.
did you think of Dina Meyer as Barbara?
I loved Dina! I think she is great! I think that she is so
much the embodiment of Oracle, that we were so lucky to find
her. And it was so interesting to see how easy it was for
her to just get into that role. I mean, she just nailed it.
It was amazing to me. I was really impressed, how she just
slipped right into it; it was like this seamless transition.
It was really cool.
character has been the most fun to write so far, and why?
know, and this will sound like a total cheat, but they're
all fun. Because they're all so different, it's impossible
to actually pick one. It's like, Helena's fun because of the
sort of extreme sarcasm and the walking the tightrope between
good and evil kind of thing. Barbara's fun because she's such
the crusader for good, but at the same time she's such an
exasperated older sister. And Dinah is fun because she's this
adolescent on the verge of discovering everything about herself,
and there's just so much room for self-discovery in this girl.
She knows so little about herself, and there's so much that
she's going to find out. All of them are really, really fun
to write. And of course, Reese is just fun to write because
he's wandering around Gotham going, "What the hell is
going on?" and that is always a kick to do.
and his partner McNally, do they have some kind of Mulder
and Scully believer/non-believer thing going on?
McNally's totally convinced that all of this, and it's going
to. There will be more pressure as time goes on in between
the two of them.
made you decide to make the Dinah character a young runaway
with psychic powers?
if you look at the way the comic is structured, the globe-trotting
international espionage, and we have made a conscious decision
not to do that, you have this really good balance of the person
in the field and the person basically running it. And to have
someone like Black Canary, there was too much overlap between
that character and Helena Wayne. They were too much alike
to belong together, and as I have said before, for better
or for worse, I am in love with that character. So when we
started thinking about, if we did do Dinah, what would be
another way to do her? One of the first thing that came to
mind, and I admit, I wrote one of the early drafts of X-Men,
and the way that they handled Rogue, which is completely as
I'm sure you're probably aware, out of continuity with the
actual X-Men storyline. Rogue isn't that age when she meets
Wolverine in the actual comics, and it seemed like a logical
place to start if we wanted to explore what it's like for
a superhero to come into their powers, as opposed to the other
two characters are established. And also, if you wanted to
show people who had different abilities, which was a big part
of the idea was, what did they individually represent? In
a metaphorical sense, Barbara is, I would say, the mind. And
Helena is the body, and Dinah is the spirit. They're kind
of this metaphorical trio, each of them embodying strengths
of the iconic hero, and that to me was the best way to explore
those kind of spriritual strengths was to have somebody who
really could see into other people's minds.
Dr. Quinzel be a recurring character on the show?
there any chance of Nightwing showing up?
success, I'll probably have a lot of room than I do now. If
I had my druthers, certainly a field trip to Bludhaven doesn't
sound like a bad idea to me.
can we look forward to in the show's first season? What kind
of stories would you like to tell?
think what we'd like to do is be able to tell some fun superhero
crime-fighting stories within New Gotham, and then be able
to thread through that a continuing arc of a greater villian,
Harley, in the first season I think, or someone like her,
trying to organize the criminals into the sort of empire the
Joker had created before Batman did him off.
Harley could possibly be the "Big Bad" of the first
That's the way we're leaning.
inspired the decision to not have costumes in the series?
think part of it was because we wanted to distinguish ourselves
from what had been done before. We wanted to make it very
clear visually that this was a different era of Gotham crime-fighters.
And partly it was because it was kind of a natural thing that
Barbara, Oracle, doesn't have a costume in the comics, and
Dinah wouldn't have at this point in her development figured
out what she was gonna wear yet. And the Huntress outfit that
the current Huntress wears, the purple one with the cross
and everything, it's nice, but if you look at it it's not
actually terribly dissimilar, except for the very small mask,
to what we did. You know, so it's kind of like a combination
of wanting to distinguish it from what had gone before, wanting
to give it a sense of grounding. In other words, we wanted
to be able to feel like it was connected to a path that you
recognize in which there were costumed superheroes, but it
had its own distinct feeling. And just the practical aspect
of knowing that Oracle wasn't ever gonna wear one, and knowing
that Dinah wouldn't have figured out what she was going to
would happen if Detective Reese walked into the bar where
the Huntress works?
think probably the same thing that happens when demons see
Buffy, which they do all the time. I mean, she supposedly
has a secret identity. But if you notice, no one ever, with
the exception of Warren last week ... comes to her house.
And just like, why don't they come to her house and blow it
up? Demons certainly have access to phone books, and they
all seem to know who she is. I think that a lot of people
in the criminal underworld eventually do know what her identity
is. I think if Reese walked into a bar and saw her, she'd
have to explain it, but I don't think that he would do anything
about it. A big part of who she is, is that the secret identity
thing for her is not that big a deal. In other words she's
not worried that the bad guy's gonna find out who she is.
In a weird way ... Helena's a kind of an in-your-face sort
of girl, and that's one of her things... it's like "I'm
just not gonna do it. That's what my parents did, and I'm
not gonna do it. And you can't make me do it." So I think
if he walked in and saw her she'd be like, "What's your
point? You know, arrest me for crimefighting! Go ahead!"
I mean, what would he do, take her down and, you know, arrest
her for having run across the rooftops in a corset?
you say something about Ashley Scott?
really tremendous. Ashley brought this kind of vulnerability
to the character that I hadn't even thought was there, and
she also has this terrific presence. ... Aside from being
a really good actress, she has this wonderful presence and
she's into both sides of Huntress. She understands both the
kind of drive to do what your father did, and the temptation
to sort of stray into a little bit of the bad side like her
mother did. She has great movement too.
makes New Gotham different from the Gotham City we're familiar
think in part it's that, what we've envisioned is the Gotham
after essentially a holy war between Joker and Batman ...
I mean we intentionally left it up in the air as to whether
this is, you know, post-virus, post-earthquake. We kind of
left up in the air because I think even we're not really sure.
But it is a place that has kind of been ravaged by the fight
between these two titans and the fallout of that war. So that's
how it's different from the Gotham that we've seen before,
you talk about other members of the cast?
think we were really lucky in that our cast was phenomenally
just great to work with. I think Rachel [Skarsten] sort of
speaks for herself in that she's one of the wonderful things
about casting somebody that talented who is also that young,
is that she can explore all of this deep and difficult coming
of age stuff in a personal age, because she's not a 25-year-old
playing a 16 year old; she really is 16. And she's one of
the most talented actresses I've ever seen. Really, to be
able to do what she does at her age is just incredible. I
think she brings a real depth to it so that it doesn't feel
like a stock thing at all, it doesn't feel like the stock
teenage character because she's just such a terrific actress.
[Moore] is just ... I mean, first of all, okay, let's face
it: there's a charisma about him that is just amazing. I mean,
you really feel it. I think, every time we've shown the pilot
to women you get this response like there's something about
him that is just charismatic, and it's wonderful, and it's
accessible at the same time. You know, you don't feel [that
he's] distancing; he's really welcoming. And he's romantic
without being all broody, and he's funny, and ... you just
look at him and you totally buy that this is the kind of person
that Helena would go for. You know, absolutely, you buy it.
He's serious but not too serious, and he doesn't take himself
too seriously either.
been a wonderful experience working with this cast. I feel
like we were incredibly lucky to get the people that we got.
what about Sherilyn Fenn?
she's Harley Quinn. She definitely understands, to me anyway,
what makes that character so kind of fascinating and dangerous
at the same time. But we didn't get much time to spend with
her in the pilot, that's one of the unfortunate things.
we going to see her in costume at some point maybe?
can't talk about things like that. It's an evolution, as many
is she going to use the word Puddin'?
know, she wouldn't be Harley if she didn't. It's got to happen
sooner or later. It's only a matter of time.
do you think people should watch the show?
think they should look at the pilot and if they like it, they
should watch it, and if they don't, they shouldn't. I've always
felt like one of the good and bad things about being a writer
and living in your own head so much is that I am not the kind
of writer who tries really hard to figure out what people
want, and then write to that. I'm much more [about] what do
I think is a really great story, and then I try to do that.
And then you hope people respond. And that's kind of what
we've done is we've created something that we thought was
a good story and then we just hope that people will agree
with this when they watch it.