BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN Interview: Laila Berzins Breaks Down Sofia Falcone's Big Scenes And Her DCAU Debut
We recently spoke to Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two star Laila Berzins to discuss her role as Sofia Falcone, what led to her joining the DC Animated Universe, and those big moments in the final act!
Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two chronicles the second half of the yearlong crime saga that began in Part One. As the mysterious Holiday Killer continues their deadly crime spree, District Attorney Harvey Dent is pushed to the brink in his quest to bring justice to Gotham City.
Making matters worse, Bruce Wayne has been captured by Poison Ivy, leaving Gotham undefended during its darkest hour. Even mob boss Carmine Falcone is becoming increasingly desperate, striking a Faustian bargain with Gotham's new generation of super-criminals. You'll get to see how it all ends as the movie is now available on Digital platforms before it arrives on Blu-ray on August 10.
Yesterday, we caught up with actress Laila Berzins to discuss her memorable role as Sofia Falcone. Her story arc plays out a little differently from her comic book counterpart, but in a way that works perfectly in the context of the movie. With that in mind, we took a deep dive into some of the character's biggest moments (some spoilers do follow) to get the performer's take on those.
We also find out how Laila came to be involved with Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two and the work that went into finding the right voice for the formidable daughter of gangster Carmine Falcone.
How did you come to be involved with The Long Halloween and what did it mean to you to join this DC Animated Universe?
Well, I actually worked with the director, Wes Gleason, on some episodes of Thundercats Roar and I’d also been involved with him on a few other projects. He knew my range and, typically, I get cast as the badass characters [Laughs] and I do a lot of villain work as well. I think he had me in mind to read for Sofia and it was a requested audition, so I was extremely excited to have the opportunity. When I found out that I’d booked it, I was over the moon. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a franchise like this? It was really surreal.
Whenever I do these interviews, everyone has such high praise for Wes Gleason, but can you talk us through your experience working with him?
He’s phenomenal. He’s a very nurturing and caring director. You feel very at ease with him when you’re performing and he just makes you feel like the only person in the room. I’m not sure what to say other than he’s a blast to work with and he’s very supportive. When I went back in to record, he gave me great feedback on my audition, read with me, and immediately honed in on where I needed to focus in my scenes. What I love about working with Wes is that it feels like you’re being directed by a friend and someone that’s know you for a long time. There are no worries or anxieties; you’re just in that zone. As an actor, that’s the most important thing because you need those good vibes and that safe space [Laughs].
Were you familiar with Sofia Falcone beforehand, and either way, was this a role that required a lot of research on your part?
I actually was not familiar, so I did a dive into Google and Wikipedia to do all the research I could to get an idea of who Sofia was. I went through all the images of her I could find, but the main thing I focused on when I got the audition was the scene with Carmine about wanting to be in the room. It was very clear to me that even though she seems to be the villain, there’s this side of her that’s vulnerable and longing for a connection to her father. I believe it was then they asked for a Brooklyn accent, so I focused on those two elements and the most important thing was that she didn’t feel like she was getting the respect she would have if she weren’t a woman. That’s what I got from reading over the script, so there’s this dynamic of her wanting to be connected to Carmine, but at the same time, she is very powerful and self-confident behind the scenes. There’s definitely the vulnerability in the scene I was reading for where she comes in, meets with Carmine, and essentially asks to be viewed as an equal and get time in the room and have influence. That’s where I drew from. I was really obsessed with the role too. I woke up in the middle of the night the day before I did the audition talking to myself like Sofia [Laughs]. I woke up to get a glass of water and I’m saying, ‘My father...I’ve got to talk to my father.’ [Laughs] I lived in this character for 24 hours to feel what she was going through. That’s my dorky obsessive way of winning the role [Laughs].
You get to be part of that amazing action scene with all those classic DC villains near the end of the movie, but having now seen the finished product, what did you enjoy most about working on that? It’s a real badass moment for your character.
Oh my gosh, you mean the epic moment where she comes in guns blazing? [Laughs]
It was really so exciting to be part of that. They kind of bleeped me out, but I got to swear at the beginning [Laughs]. To have that crazy moment reminded me of Scarface. It’s a ‘Say hello to my little friend’ moment when she comes in and tries to avenge her father’s death. It was crazy and really fun. I had the visuals in my head of what everything was going to be like after reading the script, but after getting to see it all play out once it was done, it was so exciting. It’s a very badass moment.
Without getting too spoilery, Sofia makes a really interesting decision near the end of the film with Catwoman; what do you think is going through her head at that moment?
Oh man, that was a very intense, powerful moment. I think it was clear she knew there was no way she was going to be saved by Catwoman. She was already slipping and it was kind of just a surrender. She knew what was going to happen and she accepted it and accepted it to avoid taking two people down with her. It’s a very sad moment.
Sofia has a complicated relationship with her father, but what is your take on why he decides not to give her a seat at the table even after she manages to free Scarecrow?
Well, he says when he’s talking to her it’s because it will look like he’s lining up a successor and it will make him appear weak. I think that’s a large component of it, but I also got the sense that he didn’t view Sofia with the same level as if she were his son, for example. Sam Falcone [Laughs] instead of Sofia. Had that been the case, their relationship might not have been quite the way it was because it does feel like it’s a man’s world she was living in despite everything she was doing and all the things behind the scenes. She just wasn’t getting the same level of acknowledgement. It’s not necessarily about respect. I think her father did respect her, but it was hard to see what he really thought because he stayed so distanced from her.