JUSTICE SOCIETY: WORLD WAR II Interview: Elysia Rotaru On Her Badass Black Canary And Why She Loves SHE-HULK

Elysia Rotaru (Arrow, Marvel's Avengers) talks to us about bringing a badass World War II version of Black Canary to life, stealing the show with memorable one-liners, and why she'd love to play She-Hulk.

Justice Society: World War II arrives on streaming platforms on April 27th, 2021, and hits 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray on May 11th, 2021. This next entry in the DC Animated Universe sees The Flash thrust into the midst of an epic battle between Golden Age DC Super Heroes the Justice Society and Nazis for an adventure which definitely doesn't play out the way you might be expecting. 

Picking up with Barry Allen in the present day, prior to the formation of the Justice League, the Scarlet Speedster discovers he can run even faster than he imagined, and that milestone results in his first encounter with the Speed Force. Arriving in WWII, he finds himself joining forces with a Golden Age team made up of Wonder Woman, Hourman, Black Canary, Hawkman, Steve Trevor, and Jay Garrick.

We were fortunate enough to speak to star Elysia Rotaru (Arrow) about her role as Black Canary in the action-packed ensemble, and learned lot of new details about her take on this iconic hero.

As this version is a member of the Justice Society during World War II, the movie delivers a very different take on the character, and one who goes to some surprising places thanks to Rotaru's awesome performance. In this interview, she talks us through bringing this badass Black Canary to life, her memorable one-liners, working during the pandemic, and why she'd have loved to play She-Hulk. 
 

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Black Canary’s relationship with Hawkman was a highlight in the film for me, but what did you most enjoy about exploring that? 

I really loved their rapport and how much she values and looks up to his opinions. Then, of course, as the story progresses (which I’m not going to talk too much about), I loved how involved they become, and the way she learns a really valuable lesson. It’s beautiful to witness, and when you read the script the first time, you say, ‘Okay, this sounds good,’ but seeing it live was really nice, as was seeing it all put together. 

It feels like this version of Black Canary is hardened, and that she’s been through a lot in the past; did you give much thought to her history in this iteration of the DC Universe?

I did a lot of my own research because I’m not a super comic book nerd like that. When the offer came through for this character, I was blown away and so excited. I didn’t want to do a crappy job, so I did what I could, and then stepping into the booth, it was really lovely to hear Butch [Lukic] Wes [Gleason]'s intel, and just having such a strong script to support their choices. At the end of the day, it was a nice amalgamation of all these creative brains coming up with the Black Canary we see in the film. It was quite a process. 

Were comic books something that helped you prepare for the role, or did this being a fresh take on the character mean you didn’t necessarily have to stick too closely to what’s on the page?

Yes, there’s a lot on her, but not a lot at the same time, if that makes sense. I feel like everything I was getting exposed to, visually and even logistically with her wardrobe, it was a little bit too present day and older. It was also super sexy, and I didn’t really feel like that was what was happening in this story with her. The edge was there; the chip on her shoulder was there, which I’ve seen a lot with the character both in live-action and the comic book and animation stuff, but I wanted to let it settle. This story is set in World War II, so we had to let that inform everything too. I didn’t want to impose too much on her. 

Did you look at other versions of Black Canary for inspiration, whether it was Arrow or Birds of Prey, or were you keen to make sure you put your own spin on her here?

Oh, yeah. That was the fun part. As a performer, I love taking as much as I can in, getting educated as much as I can on a character or plot line, and then just letting it dissipate and go away before seeing what comes out. I don’t want to mimic anything or do anything that way. I just want to be as authentic to the guidance I’m being given in the booth from the director as well, and what is coming out of my being, and then support and tell the story I’ve been given. The writing was great. It was, honestly...I don’t like to say, ‘That was easy,’ because it’s not easy, but it was lovely because the writing was great [Laughs]. It wasn’t surface level. It was well done and sometimes, for animation, and even live action, that’s tough to come across! 
 


I think it’s fair to say your character also gets the best one-liners; how much fun is it as an actress to work with such scene stealing dialogue?

It was really cool. I’ve been asked, ‘What’s your favourite line?’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t really have one because she just lets out such a lot of them.’ That’s what I loved about the whole thing anyway that she just blurts her stuff out. It's like, ‘Did they hear me? Did they not? Whatever!’ [Laughs] It was fun, and I just remember when I was in the booth with Wes and Butch, they told me just to have fun with it and go to town. They would dial me up or dial me down if needed, so that was always fun too. 

Without getting into any spoilers, I feel like this is probably the most powerful version of Black Canary we’ve seen on screen. What did it mean to you to explore that?

It’s freeing [and] fun. On a performance level as Elysia the actor, it was just really riveting to go there, especially in the booth. I think the challenge for me was seeing how it would all come together playing against the other characters because we didn’t get to work together. It’s just like, ‘Okay, trust your director and trust the team because they know where everything’s going.' I think that’s a big process for me that I love to do. I love giving myself over to other people that way and being like, ‘Alright man, [Laughs] drive this car, but I’m in it with you!’ It was all around good and fun vibes, and I left my sessions just elated. 

Talking of your recording sessions, did COVID have an impact on your work at all?

I was really fortunate that I recorded back in 2019 live in the studio in Los Angeles with the guys. The only impact that I felt was last year when we did a little ADR pickup session, and I was, and I hate to say it like this, but I was stuck in Vancouver (even though it’s my hometown). I was up here because of the travel restrictions. So, we did an ADR session out of an amazing studio here which is where I got to see the animation for the first time. That was really rad. It didn’t impede much, to be honest. It was more just waiting about timing and figuring out how to manage with "COVID protocol." That was the time everything was shut down; no one was in an office, no one was in the studio. I think it was just waiting for people to say, ‘Okay, this is how we will proceed.’

Between this and Arrow, you’re certainly making a home for yourself in the DC Universe, but are there any other characters you’d like to play, possibly in a live-action setting? 

I think listing them would continue our interview into a two-hour conversation because, yes, there are so many! [Laiughs] There’s so much I’d still like to explore as a performer or an artist, and so many people I’d like to collaborate with. I did get to play She-Hulk in a little moment of time, and when they came out with the live-action release and Tatiana Maslany got the part, I was so elated. That is so cool. That would be a cool role to play, for sure, if only because physically, what a dope challenge. Who knows what they’re going to do, but I would love to play and have the opportunity to do something where you can totally transform your body. Like, physically! That character speaks volumes to me. It’s She-Hulk, right? Who knows. I’m always open and wide-eyed to whatever comes my way, so we’ll see...

Also Read: JSA: WWII Director Jeff Wamester Explains His Fresh Take On The Golden Age Team
Also Read: Matt Bomer On Playing The Flash, How It Compares To Superman, & More
 

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