Batgirl star Leslie Grace thanked the people of Glasgow for welcoming her to the city but admitted: “I didn’t know the meaning of cold until I got here.”
The American actress, who turned 27 while filming in Scotland, was brought up in Florida and found that wearing just a superhero Batgirl costume in January left her chilled to the bone.
She said: “It’s super-cool that Glasgow has become Gotham [City] eleven again. It’s great for the Scottish film industry and it really is an incredible city to shoot in. The people, the businesses … everyone has been so accommodating.
“It’s a beautiful city but I didn’t know what the meaning of cold was until I got here. In between filming I’ve had to really wrap up – especially when I’m just in my Batgirl costume.”
Glasgow doubled up as Gotham City again after The Batman – which stars Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader – chose to film in the city.
While Robert didn’t make an appearance, Batgirl Leslie caused a sensation when she was spotted in the Trongate area of Glasgow, which was transformed into a Christmas market. Leslie, or a stunt double, was also seen on the roof of a building nearby.
Leslie won’t forget her first visit to Scotland as it snowed on her birthday. In an Instagram post, she wrote: “Woke up in Scotland and it’s snowing for me. I haven’t seen snow in years.”
Leslie – who was born Leslie Martinez in New York’s Bronx before moving to Florida when she was 10 – started out as a singer and received three Latin Grammy Award nominations.
She then went into films, making her big-screen acting debut as Nina Rosario in the 2021 movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights.
Batgirl is only her second acting job and Leslie is understandably proud to be starring in the first standalone Batgirl movie.
She said: “I’m so excited to honor this iconic character, whose legacy spans more than 50 years. It’s a huge responsibility but also an honour.”
Batgirl was introduced in 1961, as Betty Kane. She was replaced by Barbara Gordon – the daughter of Gotham City police commissioner James Gordon – in 1967.
Actress Yvonne Craig played the first live version of Batgirl in the third season of the Batman TV series in 1967. Since then, Batgirl has appeared in various animated series. And in 1997’s Batman & Robin, Alicia Silverstone played Batgirl.
When Leslie shared the first image of herself on social media as Batgirl, she wore a royal blue boilersuit with the Batgirl logo and the superhero’s trademark auburn hair.
She also used a quote from Batgirl: Year One – the 2003 nine-part comic book which showed how Barbara Gordon became Batgirl – and said: “I use their expectations against them. That will be their weakness. Not mine. Let them all underestimate me… And when their guard is down, and their pride is rising, let me kick their butts.”
As well as Barbara, the new HBO Max movie includes police commissioner Gordon, played by JK Simmons, reprising his role from Justice League. Michael Keaton – who played Batman twice in 1989 and in the sequel Batman Returns in 1992 – is back as the Dark Knight.
Brendan Fraser plays villain Firefly and the Mummy star was seen in Glasgow shooting a scene where he leaves a burning pharmacy.
Ivory Aquino has also been spotted. She plays Barbara’s best friend Alysia Yeoh, DC Films’ first trans character.
Leslie said: “It’s so exciting that we’re going to get to know this character and superhero in a way we haven’t really been able to see her. We get to find out why Batgirl becomes Batgirl.”
She found out she had landed the role via a Zoom call. She had been auditioning but film chiefs wanted to surprise her by pretending she was auditioning again.
She said: “They sent me an email saying, ‘I’m Batgirl’ and had me read it. I was like, ‘I’m not reading that, I don’t know what’s happening right now.’ It was a crazy shock.”
Leslie read as many Batgirl comics as she could get a feel for the character – and also had to learn to “kick some butt”.
However, it seems Leslie was always going to be Batgirl after meeting best friend and sidekick Nadia when she moved from New York to Florida.
Leslie said: “We always got into trouble as kids, so started calling each other Batman and Robin. When Nadia found out I got the role of Batgirl, she was like, ‘All this time we’ve been manifesting this.’”
She added: “I can really relate to playing Barbara/Batgirl. She knows people underestimate her as Barbara Gordon so she becomes her own hero to make a difference in the world.
“I was like that growing up. If people told me I couldn’t do something or I felt they were underestimating me, I’d work even harder to achieve my goals.”
There is no release date for Batgirl but with the Christmas theme, it is likely to be closer to the end of this year. The Batman, which also filmed in Glasgow, will be released in cinemas on March 4.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.