File- Ella Jay Basco
CAIRO - 1 April 2020: Based on the DC Comics team of the same name, American superhero film Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) hit theaters early February, featuring an all-women crew, from the producer to the director and most of the stars,
and delivering an impressive mix of 90s crime thrillers and 21st century superhero films.
Ella Jay Basco plays pickpocket Cassandra Cain, who, steals a diamond that everyone wants to get their hands on. Suddenly, she has a bounty on her,head and all the superheroines in the movie work together to save her.
We chat with the young actress about her role in the movie and how she prepared for it; and she also gave us some glimpses from behind the scenes.
What do you like most about Cassandra Cain’s role?
When I first read the script, Cassandra Cain was such an interesting character. She was so colorful and so independent and someone that I couldn’t really relate to, which was so interesting to me, because she lives on the streets and she doesn’t really have
anyone or anything, so to play that was super intriguing for me.
Do you see that kind of character often in scripts you read?
I really don’t. She’s jumping around from foster care to foster care. She’s not the best child. She’s pretty sneaky. And she’s just trying to survive in Gotham. So it was cool to represent [her]. Cass really takes Harley (played by Margot Robbie) as a role model because that’s really the only thing she has. And she wants to be Harley, she wants to act and dress and walk like Harley and pretty much be her assistant, until she can be her. Harley is the main goal for her.
How did you go about nailing Cass’s look?
It’s super scrappy. The cast she wears on her arm, that’s probably my favorite part because the director gave me three neon pink casts, and she gave me a bunch of sharpies and just said,“Go crazy”. So, all of what is written on it is actually what I drew
on the cast. All of the art is what I did. And I just wrote a bunch of bad words and the word Gotham, and things like that. That’s obviously my favorite part of the costume. And these Jordans, she can’t afford these sneakers, so, you know, she probably didn’t buy them, and everything else I think she just found off of the street or tried to use extra money she found for it.
What was it like working with the rest of the cast?
They’re great mentors. They taught me how to build relationships and work with people, and [do] different acting exercises. They were honestly like big sisters to me. They always took care of me and we loved hanging out with each other.
What was it like working with Margot Robbie who plays Harley Quinn And is also a producer on the movie?
I think it’s honestly super inspiring, and it makes you want to push yourself more because you think about it and you’re like, ‘Oh, Margot, she already has so much on her plate as an actor and playing this character of Harley Quinn. And on top of that she’s being a producer and going around meetings and doing all of this stuff.’ So it makes you feel like you want to step up your game, because she’s already such an amazing actress and person in general. And she was such a great resource, too, she knew all
the little details, which was great for me, working alongside her for so much of the movie.
Tell us about your experience with director Cathy Yan.
I’m just so lucky because Cathy was super open to everything. We really wanted to figure out who Cassandra Cain was and what her story was, and she helped me develop that character. I just love her. She’s so loving and kind and caring. Cassandra Cain is an important character in the DC canon.
Did you read the comics or do any research like that?
I do read comics. When I found out that I booked this movie,through all of them, studying. And one that really interested me was the original story of Cassandra Cain and how she lives on the streets and how she gets taken in by Batman and Barbara
Gordon; and that was super interesting for me. But I love comics. They are so interesting, so complex, and there’s such a culture about comics that’s really intriguing. I had this one teacher in fourth grade with whom we read comics every Wednesday in
What did you think of the sets of the movie? Did they bring some of those comic book visuals that you read in your research to life?
K.K Barrett, the production designer, he did an amazing job. It definitely felt like a fantasy; it was so colorful and bright. It brought what I read in the comic books to life.
Did having those visuals in mind inform your acting?
In the comic books, I definitely saw emotion in how vulnerable Cass is, because sometimes when you just read stuff you never really know what they actually look like. You may know how they feel, from their perspective, but never know what they
look like, or like the physicality of what they do, which was super helpful and really interesting, seeing the differences and the similarities. And that honestly really helped because she is just a kid. She doesn’t really know anything; and yet, she pretends she
does, and she puts on this proverbial mask and pretends that she’s independent and that she can handle herself.
What message do you want to send millennials through this
I want them to understand how much this meant to me, [working] with a diverse cast and in a diverse film, and also being empowered as a female. I definitely want them to understand how much that theme meant throughout the movie; and probably how much work we all put into it, because all the women had about five months of training in order to get that good, which is such a short amount of time.
Rosie Perez has talked about the moments on set where she felt such joy because she felt so empowered, especially in the fight scenes. How did it feel to be part of these action scenes?
That was pretty crazy. I’ve been swung around so much, it’s just so fun to be swung around by a bunch of women and big stuntmen. And it sure was interesting just watching all of the women fight. That was so amazing and cool. I was a fan myself, a
total fan-girl, seeing that live right in front of me.
Did you do any kind of stunt training?
Yes. I worked with my amazing stunt double, and also did some other training... We had a magician come in and he taught me how to pick pockets and how to flip a coin and make stuff disappear, which was super fun.
Are you still practicing? So you can amaze your family and friends?
Now I know how to roll a coin smoothly on my hand, which is cool. You never know when you need to show off a little at a party.