Leslie Grace discovered she was Batgirl in the sweetest, most roundabout way possible, a red carpet interview with Variety reveals. Warner Bros. reportedly went the extra mile breaking the news to the vivacious 26-year-old, leaving Grace practically doing the rumba, belting out rhapsodies in the pit of her gut.
The day Leslie Grace found out she was going to be playing Batgirl/Barbara Gordon in the DC Extended Universe, she was lured to a Zoom conference call at an indeterminate, but completely inopportune, time; directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah called her under the pretense of needing a final reading. The In The Heights star was understandably blindsided, but duty called and she logged on as instructed. She immediately noticed a startling detail: the room was full of Warner Bros. executives and she was the only actor in attendance. Her inbox made a ding sound as if on cue, and Arbi and Fallah prompted her to open the email and read what’s contained within. The letter simply said, “I am Batgirl.” It broke her in all the best ways.
Watch Leslie Grace tell the story in her own words at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards on Monday:
Dropping the deets on anything Hollywood, casting decisions especially, is ordinarily very straightforward. The news comes upon the agent or manager first, and only then the actor, in this case Leslie Grace, is brought into the loop. Often, the reveal arrives in the form of a phone call and the process is as ruggedly plainspoken as it sounds; the message is a simple “you got the role” followed by a reminder on what to expect from that moment onward.
Usually, the director is tasked with breaking the news to prospective talents; in some cases, a producer handles the responsibility. Sometimes, the story could even be communicated in text, which is just about the most informal a studio could get — but the reveal remains relatively uncomplicated and straight to the point. But Warner Bros. loves its Batgirl and added a few extra steps to make the experience extraordinarily special. Leslie Grace is a remarkably lucky lady.
The manner with which executives decided to spill the beans is made doubly adorable by the fact Leslie Grace has only had one acting role so far. The Bronx native is a crooner before anything else, and received three Latin Grammy Award nominations to prove her mettle. She has been active in the music scene since 2009, when her first studio album Pasión was recorded. She started out as a Christian singer. Her first mainstream single, a cover of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by The Shirelles, peaked on two Billboard charts: Tropical Songs and Latin Airplay.
Many hit songs later, Grace was cast in the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony award winning debut musical In The Heights, where she starred as Nina Rosario, daughter of Jimmy Smits’s character Kevin. Nina was originally played by Mandy Gonzalez in the Broadway production of Miranda’s pre-Hamilton epic. That was in 2019. When the movie came out this year, Grace won her next big role: as DC superhero Batgirl in Barbara Gordon’s standalone feature. She beat out the likes of Isabela Merced, Zoey Deutch, and Haley Lu Richardson for the part and is officially the first Latina actress to play the character both in cartoons and live-action.
Batgirl was initially helmed by Joss Whedon; he was set to write, direct, and produce what was then Zack Snyder’s version of Batgirl from the same cinematic universe. His Barbara Gordon was meant to be as gritty and noir as Ben Affleck’s take on Batman, and was being set up to one day share the screen as student and mentor.
Chris McKay was developing Nightwing around the same time. Talks about Damian Wayne joining the Snyderverse intrigued outlets. Whedon eventually left the project and was replaced by Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey) on script work and duo Adil & Bilall (Bad Boys for Life) on directing. Kristin Burr was hired as producer. J.K. Simmons, who played Gordon’s father Commissioner Jim in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, signed on to reprise the part the same month Leslie Grace was cast. Batgirl is currently in pre-production. The film has a 2022 release date.