How Gotham Is Empowering Women By Casting a Female for a Formerly Male Superhero Role
Just when you thought that superhero shows were totally by the (comic) book, Gotham went ahead and flipped that idea on its head.
Instead of casting a male actor to play the role of Firefly (as has always been done), the producers decided to make the character a female. This isn't the first time a role has flipped genders (we're currently seeing it with our November cover star Sandra Bullock in Our Brand Is Crisis), but it sure is impressive in the rare times it happens.
The lucky lady? Michelle Veintimilla, who recently made her Broadway debut in the Tony-nominated musical The Visit and can be seen later this year in the feature film Fathers and Daughters with Russell Crowe, Octavia Spencer, and Aaron Paul. In fact, Veintimilla wasn't even told she was going to be playing the groundbreaking role until after she nabbed the part. The character (who starts off as Bridgit Pike) is enslaved by her brothers — a notorious gang of arsonists — and forced into the family business. She made her debut on Monday's episode of Gotham and concludes her story arc (at least for the moment) next Monday night.
While braving the unseasonably cool temps in New York ("My parents told me it actually snowed on Long Island the other day!"), Veintimilla called us in unseasonably hot Los Angeles to talk about her audition, fans reactions, and what you can expect from Firefly before all is said and done.
Glamour: What was your audition like?
Michelle Veintimilla: It was pretty simple, actually. The funny thing about it was that they didn’t tell me I was Firefly in the audition. It said that she was a timid girl who eventually found her strength. I had been auditioning frequently for the show, so I think this was just the part that fit best. The name was still Bridgit, but since it’s a brand new incarnation of the character, I had no idea it would ultimately be Firefly. I’m glad it worked out the way it did!
Glamour: Were you a fan of DC comics?
Michelle: Actually, I wasn’t totally into it [beforehand]. I grew up as a dancer and lived in a dance studio pretty much, so I wasn’t on the comic book train. Now I think it’s super cool, and I’m excited to be a part of it.
Glamour: Executive producer Bruno Heller said: "We decided to make Firefly a woman because we wanted to describe how even a warm, loving, and compassionate person can turn to the dark side when life pushes him or her that way." How do you feel taking on this role that’s always been played by a guy?
Michelle: It was incredibly empowering, and I feel really lucky that I got to play this role. The two episodes really start from the origin of the story, so I got to discuss it with the writers and the directors, and we got to put our take on it. To see the character change in these two episodes is really cool because oftentimes the villains are presented and you don’t really know where they came from. They just sort of pop into the story and leave, but what was cool about this part was that they were able to track it from the beginning.
Glamour: Were you apprehensive about the fan reaction?
Michelle: I will say, there are some people who were not happy about it, but I think that’s good. I think it’s really good because it got people talking. I think things like this need to happen. And hopefully people that don’t like it will end up liking it in the end and see that girls can kick ass too.
Glamour: What was the toughest part about taking on this role?
Michelle: It's a very physical role, and that’s something I wasn’t expecting. I must have ran at least a few miles because we had to do the shot over and over again from a few different angles. I was jumping, climbing ladders, and crawling through vents! I think my ballet training helped. If I wasn't a dancer I don't know what I would have done!
Glamour: What was it like working with Camren Bicondova?
Michelle: Camren was so much fun on set. She immediately showed me the ropes, and we hit it off on set right away. She’s sort of on her own on the show and outside of the show because Selina Kyle marches to the beat of her own drum.
Glamour: Is there any chance you'll be back for more episodes?
Michelle: I think they left it open-ended, so I have a feeling [there’s more].
Glamour: What can you preview about next Monday's episode?
Michelle: Next week's episode is when she really starts to take a dark turn because what’s cool about Bridgit is that she’s not fueled by aggression — she's actually trying to do good and get rid of the bad guys. I think all the adrenaline and all things she saw happen in this past Monday's episode exposes her to all the injustices in Gotham, which makes her a little bit angry. In next week’s episode she's really going to really come back strong.
An all-new episode of Gotham airs next Monday on Fox at 8 p.m. ET.
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Photo Credit: Gotham / Twitter