Not every Batman villain plots to rule Gotham City. Some prefer to watch it go up in flames. That’s the road Bridgit Pike (Michelle Veintimilla), the potential future DC Comics villain Firefly, is currently traveling.
In the comics, two iterations of the Firefly — Garfield Lynns and Ted Carson — turned up the heat for the Caped Crusader. The version seen on Fox’s pre-Batman series “Gotham” swapped genders and found Bridgit’s pyromaniac brothers forcing her into the family business. However, when you play with fire, someone is bound to get burned.
Ahead of tonight’s new episode, “By Fire,” Veintimilla spoke to CBR News about “Gotham’s” spin on the character, Bridgit’s baptism by fire, bonding with Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) and whether she can be considered a true villain.
CBR News: I want to start by talking about your Firefly getup, which Bridgit constructs herself, because it has a really striking design. What was your impression of the costume and her gigantic flamethrower?
Michelle Veintimilla: The outfit is awesome. The day after I got the job, I went into a fitting. I remember walking in and them putting this bizarre costume on me. They were like, “This is your villain costume.” I was like, “What? What do you mean?” I didn’t know that Bridget turned into a villain when I got the role. How could I have known when it was a brand new take on the villain? That was pretty funny being fitted into this costume and having no idea. They ended up clueing me in.
The costume is awesome. It’s beautiful. The rough thing about it was it was a lot of layers, especially when we were on set and actually handling real fire. That was a real flamethrower on my back and real fire came out of it. I had to be trained on how to use it and had to make sure my whole costume was fire retardant. It was a lot of layers. We shot it on very hot summer nights, so it was pretty hot inside of it. I loved it. Since this is her origin story and she did build this costume from scratch — and this costume is cool — I’m really excited to see what her full-on villain costume will look like.
The old adage states, “Play with fire and you are bound to get burned.” Were there any close calls while you were filming?
I think I was so scared that I made everybody explain everything to me in depth. I had to wear these goggles and I couldn’t see through them. They would tell me, “This is your mark. You just have to turn left and run up a hill.” I had to trust everyone on this set. We had to make it very clear. “This is where I’m turning. This is where I’m turning on the flamethrower. Then this person is going to tackle me and I have to make sure to turn it off. There’s fire five feet from here, so we have to make sure not get in the fire.” Everyone was extremely accommodating.
Safety is the number one thing when you are shooting sequences like that. I was really nervous because I was in control of a lot of it. I was the one with the flamethrower. The good thing was I had no one to blame, but I practiced a lot with the props people about turning it on and off. No one got injured.
Last week’s episode, “Scarification,” served as Firefly’s origin story. What was your take on the character?
The really cool thing about it was that this is a brand new incarnation of the villain. I had a lot of liberty to show the development of this young woman and show how she changes and transforms. I got to talk to the writers and director and the showrunners. They really encouraged me to show the whole arc. I’m glad I got to portray a character that starts from the very beginning then transform her.
Bridgit isn’t an arsonist by nature. How does she do on her first assignment?
She’s incredibly scared, but she has been living with her brothers for quite a while. She’s seen them do what they do. She knows that world. She might not have done the dirty work, but she knows what goes down. It was just a matter of her nerves and getting over that. She is a really strong girl and has opinions and she has a voice. She just doesn’t have the chance to express it. She’s really been stomped on. When Selina Kyle finally picks Bridgit up and forces her to dust herself off, she finds her strength. It’s all there and that’s the cool thing about playing her. She’s always had that strength. It just took a little bit of pep talk from someone who knew her from her past.
Bridgit blows up numerous buildings during that inaugural trial run. Does she feel a sense of empowerment or is she way over her head?
She is a little bit over her head. I don’t think she realizes at first what exactly she is getting herself into. Her number one priority is not killing herself, which she almost does the first time she’s sent out on an assignment. Then when she realizes all the resources she has — she lives in a dump with a bunch of napalm and fire retardant material — she realizes that she can really take matters into her own hands.
And she does in her own way. There’s so much goodness in Bridgit and that’s the interesting thing about her story. She starts with great intentions. She’s actually trying to do good and get rid of the bad guy. That adrenaline is fueling her and ultimately makes her change.
The cops cornered Bridgit, effectively leaving her with no way out. In what ways did accidentally burning an officer to death affect her?
It really startled her. At that point, she doesn’t really know what to do. She’s incredibly relieved when she sees that Selina is there to help her. Right before, Selina tells Bridgit that she’s not going to [help] and that I’m on my own. I don’t know what Bridgit would have done if it wasn’t for Selina. That’s why their relationship is so important. But, Bridgit can’t believe what happened. She’s really afraid and she doesn’t know what her next step is.
Selina Kyle shows concern for Bridgit. In some ways, they are kindred spirits. How do they influence each other? What kind of bond do they share?
Bridgit is very much a worry wart because of her circumstances, and because she’s pretty much a slave to her brothers. She’s a very scared person. Her mind is always racing because she doesn’t know how to live on her own. I think she suffers from Stockholm syndrome. She believes on some level that her brothers do care about her. She has nothing else to believe.
Selina is a young woman who is completely on her own and completely independent. She goes by her own rules, doesn’t really take orders and marches to the beat of her own drum. We complement each other in that way. Sometimes Selina doesn’t act like she cares about anything and Bridgit is like, “No, actually. I know who you are. I know where you came from. I know your story. You can’t hide that from me. I know there’s a heart in there somewhere.” In return, Selina knows there is strength in me. She helps me find it again.
Bridgit has been branded a cop killer. She’s on the run with Selina. Where do we find her in tonight’s episode?
In tonight’s episode, they are really trying to figure out what to do with me. Because everyone is looking for me, we decide I have to leave town. Our next endeavor is trying to figure out how we’re going to get the money to get me out of town.
Has she embraced being a villain at this point?
No, I don’t think so. That’s later. She’s really only been out with the flamethrower a few times. The first few times she was sent out by her brothers. It isn’t really something she’s interested in doing. Selina and Bridgit do realize I have this flamethrower and it can help me.
Will there be a resolution with the GCPD?
Yes, Bridgit is ultimately confronted by [Jim] Gordon and the strike force. There’s a really big culmination of it all. We have a pretty big confrontation.
“Gotham” airs Mondays at 8 P.M. on Fox.
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