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A New Breed of Catwoman: Behind the Scenes of Selina's New Film

A New Breed of Catwoman: Behind the Scenes of Selina's...

By Joshua Lapin-Bertone Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

This winter, Selina Kyle is leaving Gotham behind and taking her special brand of burglary global. Catwoman: Hunted is a new DC animated movie that follows Ms. Kyle on an international adventure that’s part spy thriller, part heist movie, and every bit the Catwoman film we’ve been waiting for. While recent DC movies like Batman: The Long Halloween and Justice Society: World War II have adapted a clean, almost art deco approach to their visual style, Catwoman: Hunted is styled after classic anime, a decision that was part of the initial pitch.

“We wanted to do an anime,” screenwriter Greg Weisman recalls. “One of my favorite anime films is Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro and I thought Selina was the perfect character to carry that kind of film. Selina felt like she had the style, the skills, and the chops to take on a big heist story like that.”

“I loved it,” Catwoman voice actress Elizabeth Gillies gushes. “It was funny because I didn’t realize it was going to be anime style until pretty late in the game. I was doing my final round of ADR and I was like ‘Oh my god, this is so cool. I had no idea.’ And once I saw the final product, I was so intrigued by the jazz score. The combination of that and the anime style was so unique. I was really into it.”

Zehra Fazal, who voices Talia al Ghul and Nosferata, was equally amazed by the animation. “I watched the finished movie, and I was blown away by the introduction sequence,” she says. “It seems like such a cool homage to shows like Cowboy Bebop, which I was a huge fan of. It was fun, and the style really helps the story. I love the character designs. The action sequences stood out, they were so well done. I was really stoked seeing how it all came together.”

While Catwoman is at the heart of Hunted, the film gives Selina an unlikely partner in Batwoman, and in the process, checks all of the buddy-cop boxes you might expect.

“We all agreed right at the top that we didn’t want Batman in the movie,” explains Weisman. “The moment you put Batman in this film, it’s no longer a Catwoman movie, it becomes a Batman movie. DC suggested that we use Kate as a foil, and immediately I thought that was perfect because they’re so stylistically and diametrically opposed. Selina is all mirth, style, and all about having fun, while Kate is military and pragmatic. I just knew they would bounce off each other really well.”

“I think it’s a dynamic that we’ve seen over and over in a lot of film and TV,” Stephanie Beatriz (who voices Batwoman) muses. “This push-pull, slightly flirty, antagonistic, thrilling relationship. They kind of push each other’s buttons, but they also make each other laugh a little bit. There is a lot of mutual respect going on there, but there is also some toying with one another. It was really fun to play.”

“It was so much fun,” Gillies adds. “It was a big part of me wanting to do this movie. I love that they decided to explore their relationship, and how in-depth it gets with their dynamic. It’s fun to see Catwoman toying with her sexuality and enjoying the banter with Batwoman. Even though she’s trying to manipulate Batwoman, and throw her off her game, she also likes her. There’s something about her that intrigues Selina, so she wants to keep playing with her and poking her.”

Stephanie Beatriz credits the DC Universe with lighting the spark that led to her acting career, and Catwoman: Hunted was a chance to bring things full circle. 

“My biggest touchstone for the DC Universe was Batman: The Animated Series, which ran right after I got home from school as a kid,” Beatriz recalls. “I was obsessed with it. In fact, Mark Hamill being the Joker on that series was one of the reasons I started to think about going into acting. I knew that he was Luke Skywalker, but he was also doing something that was so totally different on that series as the Joker. That was the gateway into my DC fandom and voice acting.”

The film gave Zehra Fazal, who is no stranger when it comes to animated DC projects, a chance to explore new corners of the universe.

“I didn’t know about Nosferata, so that was really cool,” she admits. “It was cool to play a character I had familiarity with like Talia, but also give voice to a character like Nosferata who was making what I believe was her first animated appearance.”

Fazal had grown up loving Greg Weisman’s Gargoyles, and the similarity between Nosferata and Weisman’s other winged creatures didn’t escape her notice.

“When I first saw her design during the pickup sessions, I freaked out,” Fazal said. “One, because of the Greg Weisman and Gargoyles connection, and two, I was working with voice director Jamie Thomason, who voice directed Gargoyles. So, I had a nerd-out with Jamie while we were working on it. I’m so ridiculously lucky to be collaborating with people I was a fan of as a child.”

“The role came across my desk and I was so excited,” Gillies shares. “I have always wanted to do something in the DC Universe. I’m a big fan of Catwoman—weirdly enough, I was Catwoman for Halloween two years ago. Maybe I willed it into existence. I loved the script, and any opportunity to play Catwoman, I was down. I was really excited to get involved.”

“I was part of the casting discussion in the early days,” Weisman explains. “Casting Keith David, Steve Blum, Eric Lopez and Jonathan Frakes—these are all people who I’ve used over and over again on multiple shows. Yet, the two leads, Elizabeth Gillies and Stephanie Beatriz, I’ve never worked with either of them before. That’s one of the great things about my job—you get to work with people you love and then you also get to bring in new people and get surprised by things. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic I wasn’t able to be at the recording sessions for this, which I’ll admit was a bummer.”

Weisman is also the co-showrunner of the critically acclaimed animated series Young Justice, and he has described Catwoman: Hunted as Young Justice-adjacent.

“I have in my head, and I’ve built with Brandon Vietti, a certain interpretation of the DC Universe that works well for at least the two of us, and hopefully for a percentage of fans as well,” Weisman reveals. “This film fits that, and we cast Kelly Hu as Cheshire, who, of course, plays Cheshire in Young Justice, and Zehra Fazal as Talia al Ghul, who also plays Talia in Young Justice. I characterized those characters consistently with how I would write them in YJ. In my mind, there’s a version of this story that took place on Earth-16, probably some version of it. If and when we were to bring Catwoman into YJ, I’m in love with Elizabeth Gillies’ interpretation of the character, so you’d see this kind of Catwoman. That’s not to say this is literally in YJ continuity, or that it’s a YJ story. Like I said, it’s Young Justice adjacent, so it fits in like that.”

“It was an honor to get to be in a Greg Weisman project,” Gillies says. “I’m reminded of that every time I go on Twitter, because his following is so huge. This script was so new and interesting, smart and different, and I feel very blessed that I got to be in one of his projects. He’s a genius.”

As for what inspired her take on Selina, Gillies looked to one of the defining versions of the character.

“I was always a fan of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman and I used that as a jumping off point, but I sort of found my own way with it,” she reveals. “I knew I wanted her to have a sexy, raspy, seductive voice. Our director exaggerated even more and had me lean into it. Once I saw the final product, I could see how that worked. It feels like Catwoman, while also feeling new and working for this new story.”

“It was really fun to do as a voiceover in particular,” Beatriz adds. “You only get the one tool. You get the limited tool of your voice to tell that story and to be a part of that dynamic. I found that really challenging and fun. As an actor, you come in and try things, and your director and producer decide what shape and direction you’re going to go in. As you continue to record, you get closer and closer to nailing down the person. That’s why I really love acting—that can be a really collaborative process.”

There’s so much to unpack with Catwoman: Hunted, but at the end of the day, the cast and crew hope it makes you look at Selina Kyle in a new light.

“I think that Selina is somebody who wants to appear a certain way in front of everyone else,” Gillies suggests. “She wants to be the strongest, the most in control, the calmest under stress, but in truth, she’s fighting for a much bigger cause, and you see what a big heart she has. She’s hellbent on getting what she needs to solve certain problems that I won’t give away. It added a layer of reality and honesty to her character that I thought was really interesting.”


Catwoman: Hunted is now available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and Digital HD.

Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.