This fall, Gotham will introduce us to the familiar faces of Gotham City in a new way. The famous Batman villains are getting a new start, including The Penguin, The Riddler and secretive hints about The Joker. We’ll also get to know the Gotham City police force better, as the show focuses on Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as a young detective and his partnership with Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue).
Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) is in the show, as a pre-teen who’s just witnessed his parents’ murder. Some of the other famous Batman villains are very young also, including an Ivy Pepper (Clare Foley) who’s even younger than Bruce. Selina Kyle is a teenager prowling the streets of Gotham, played by a very new face, Camren Bicondova.
We all know who Selina Kyle is. She grows up to become Catwoman. It’s Bicondova’s job to show us how she gets there. For her first big role, I met Bicondova at the rooftop bar at Soho House in Beverly Hills, where Fox held its summer party for the Television Critics Association. She was eager to talk about Gotham and give us an introduction to her work. I hope it will be the first of many meetings with her as we follow her career on Gotham and into other work. Gotham premieres Sept. 22 on Fox.
Which versions of Catwoman and Selina Kyle were you familiar with before you got the role?
I knew of Anne Hathaway, Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry.
What excited you about the idea of playing Selina Kyle before she becomes Catwoman?
I’m really excited and honored because it’s a really legendary role. Nobody’s ever played it [at this age] before and it’s just really exciting.
Are we going to see Selina’s parents?
Parents, I don’t think so, but I don’t know at the same time.
Is she a street girl?
Yes, she is a street thief and pickpocket and she lives on the streets of Gotham by herself.
With a cat?
With a cat, many cats.
You couldn’t be allergic to cats for this part, right?
No, luckily I’m not. That would not be a good idea if I was allergic to cats because I’d be sneezing constantly throughout the scenes, but I’m not. I actually own a cat. His name is Mr. G.
Was the cat on the set well trained?
Yes. They actually had many cats. The cat that was actually in the pilot, he was trained very well, came when called, very nice, purring constantly. It was really nice.
Have there been more cats in the subsequent episodes?
No. That was mostly in the pilot. Lately, not very many cats.
Is Selina very lonely on the streets of Gotham City?
No, because she has her cats.
But it’s always cats? Are there any other people in her life?
I think she has some acquaintances. I don’t think she has friends. Later on, in future episodes you’ll see relationships that she already has or what she’s going to have, but I don’t think she really has friends. I think she has mostly acquaintances.
Do you feel like a cat?
I do, I do which is great. All my life I’ve been compared to a cat which is really ironic, but it’s nice because sometimes I already feel like a cat, sometimes I don’t. When I get on set, I just get to think about my cat Mr. G and how he operates and use him as inspiration.
Mr. G is his name?
Yeah, it stands for Gregson but it changes on a regular basis. Sometimes he’s Gary. Sometimes he’s Greg. It just kind of depends on his mood.
What kind of cat is Mr. G?
He is a Tonkinese so he looks like a Siamese but he’s furrier.
Why were you called a cat before you got this job?
One, because I love cats. Two, apparently my eyes are cat-like. I didn’t really notice it but that’s what everybody else says. And I don’t know. I guess my body language? I have no clue. I don’t even feel like a cat in my normal life. People are just like, “Hey, you’re like a cat.” Okay.
Did the producers tell you what you did to win the role?
They didn’t tell me what I did, but during the audition I did have to do a series of cat movements. I think that helped a little. That’s what dance helped me with too. I get to bring my dance to the character of Selina, so it’s really helpful.
You didn’t speak in the pilot. When will we get to hear you speak?
You have to keep watching. I don’t want to spoil it.
Is that cool to you that you can be so mysterious you don’t even talk?
Yeah, that’s what I love. I actually sometimes think it’s more interesting not speaking as an actor or actress because especially with Selina, you don’t know what she’s thinking. I feel like you don’t know what she’s thinking as to where it’s good, bad, or she’s even thinking of anything and she’s just dazing off into outer space. So that’s what I love about her.
What were your questions for the creators of the show when you got the part?
One of my questions was do I sympathize with Bruce Wayne? Do I feel bad for him or do I feel that I’m his equal? What’s that all about? And they said, yes, I do sympathize with him. That’s the only question I really remember.
Have you learned any Parkour for the stunts of Gotham?
I have, I have. I’ve been taking some classes out in Northridge, CA learning how to run up some walls and stuff like that, so that’s fun.
Did you do any of the stunts in the pilot?
I did the walking down the staircase, but all the other stuff I didn’t do.
Have you gotten to do anymore cool action?
I have. Yeah, I have. Not anything crazy, not anything like jumping off buildings and stuff because I don’t think production would let me do that as much as I would want to, but I do some things here and there. Since I trained in parkour a little bit before we started filming it, that’s been helping a lot too.
What’s one thing you were allowed to do?
I was allowed to jump on some boxes and roll under things. It’s really fun.
Have you read any Batman comic books?
I have. I’ve read some Batman comics but I actually ordered some Catwoman comics because I would like to learn how she is as a woman. So it’s really interesting reading all the different stories.
How old is Selina on the show?
She is 14.
Do you expect she will be driving in a few years?
Yeah, probably. She might have her little Catmobile or something.
Does it feel a little more real to you now that you’ve gone to work and started doing a few more episodes?
Yeah, like during the pilot and still now, sometimes I still have to pinch myself. I’m really grateful that I get to be part of this cast. I’m still in awe but I’m getting used to it, getting into the character more and learning more about it.
It’s one thing for us to see Edward Nygma and Oswald Cobblepot get started on their paths, but Selina is so young when we first see her on Gotham. How far do you think she has to go to become Catwoman?
I don’t know. I don’t know how Bruno [Heller] and Danny [Cannon] are going to have the story evolve. I don’t know if we’re basing it year by year or every five years. I don’t know yet. Thats’ why I’m excited. Every time I read a script, it’s like, “Ooh, so exciting!”
Have you ever had a job like that before where the script comes in and it’s that exciting?
No, this is actually my first acting job. I’ve had other ones but this is like my big thing, so that’s why I’m really excited about it. The cast is seasoned, great, so I’m really grateful.
Have you had any scenes with Ben or Donal?
Yup! So that’s what people can look for. That’s what I was looking forward to. They’re really welcoming. They help me understand things that I don’t quite understand yet and they’re teaching me.
What sorts of things were new to you on the set?
It’s mostly the little things. It’s more encouraging conversations.
Do they treat you like just another actor even though you’re young?
Yes. That’s what I love about them. They treat me like any other person or actor, actress. So that’s what I like about it. The whole cast treats me like I’m equal, so that’s great.
How did you get into acting so young?
Well, I started off in dance. I began when I was five. With dancing, you have to act. Otherwise, it’s boring. The only difference between acting and dancing is that you’re not speaking in dancing. I think dance just merged me through to acting. I kind of fell into it.