It’s highly unusual for a series lead to depart a series, especially after only one season, but it’s not unheard of. Understandably, fans and even casual bystanders are often curious about an actor’s decision to leave what is often depicted as a highly glamorous job, but in actuality is a (well-compensated) very difficult one. The latest example of this comes in the form of Ruby Rose’s departure from Batwoman ahead of its second season. While the news was announced back in May, Rose is commenting for the first time (past her initial statement, which didn’t go into details) about her reasons for leaving the CW superhero show.
“Being the lead of a superhero show is tough. [Laughs] Being the lead in anything is tough,” Ruby Rose told Entertainment Weekly about her decision to step away from playing the role of Kate Kane/Batwoman. “But I think, in that particular instance, it was a lot more difficult because I was still recovering from my surgery.”
Rose was injured while performing stunts during production on the first season of Batwoman. According to the actor’s Instagram post, Rose herniated two discs and the injury came close to severing her spinal cord, leaving her in “chronic pain” and unable to feel her arms.
“I had my surgery and then 10 days later I went to work,” Rose recounted to EW, “which maybe wasn’t the best idea. Most people take about a month or three off before they return to work, so it was definitely made more difficult by that. But as far as being a lead of a show or a film — regardless if it’s action or if it’s emotional — in whichever ways it’s taxing.”
Rose spoke positively about her experiences on Batwoman, saying: “The challenge is sort of outweighed. The accomplishment and the trust that people put in you to do that role and then there’s also the vibrancy of being able to come on set and set the mood and the tone and the trust being put into it is something that’s been such an honor. And I love my experience in [Batwoman]. I’m so grateful that we got to achieve everything that we did and I’m proud of everyone that worked on it. I’m proud of myself for working under sort of interesting circumstances, you know, with the recovery and all. I would definitely do [TV] again. I just think that it was also time for me to take a break to fully heal and then return.”
According to Rose, having the time and space that COVID has allowed some people, especially those working in jobs (like TV production) that have halted due to the global pandemic, has allowed her to “think about a lot of different things and what you want to achieve in life and want you want to do.”
Apparently, for Rose, those goals do not include continued work on Batwoman.
“I think for both [me and the producers], it was a great opportunity to have a dialogue about a lot of things,” said Rose. “I respect them so much and they’ve been so respectful to me … I think it was actually a beautiful way to do something, especially since that was the first time it’s ever been done — the first time Batwoman has ever been played in live-action and that she was LGBTQ. I’m very honored to have been able to play her.”
Following the announcement of Rose’s departure, Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries took to Twitter to address fan concerns that the actress’ exit and replacement with a new lead character (rather than recasting the role) would lead to Kate Kane’s death, a fulfillment of the harmful “Bury Your Gays” trope.
“As a lesbian who’s been working as a writer for the past fifteen years, I’m well aware of the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope and I have no interest in participating in it,” said Dries. “My comments about recasting Batwoman have launched a storm of rumors and misinformation and I wanted to clarify something. Like you, I love Kate Kane – she’s the reason I wanted to do the show. We’ll never erase her.”
Batwoman has since announced the casting of Javicia Leslie, a Black, bisexual actress, as the new lead in the series. Leslie will portray new character Ryan Wilder. Leslie said in a statement: “I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community,” Leslie said in a statement.
During her EW interview, Rose was asked if she had any advice for Leslie. She responded: “None! I think she definitely knows what she’s doing and she seems fantastic. I think that honestly, I was so proud and so happy when I was told who would be replacing me. I’m just really stoked and I’m definitely going to watch the next season as well and see how it all comes together.”
More news on Batwoman Season 2 as we hear it.