Ricky Church chats with Kelly Hu about her role as Cheshire in Catwoman: Hunted…
It is without doubt that Catwoman is one of the most iconic comic book characters ever since she was introduced in the first issue of Batman over 80 years ago. Since then, she has been played by several actresses beginning with Julie Newmar in the classic ’60s television series Batman, Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, Halle Berry in Catwoman and soon by Zoe Kravitz in the upcoming The Batman. Despite her popularity and the number of DC Animated Movies, however, Catwoman has never been given an animated film all on her own.
That has changed with the upcoming release of Catwoman: Hunted, the feline anti-herione’s first animated feature. The film sees Catwoman attempt to steal a priceless jewel from some of the world’s most deadliest criminals, forcing her into a reluctant alliance with Batwoman and Interpol agents as they attempt to bring down an evil international organization, all the while being hunted by deadly assassins. We spoke with actress Kelly Hu who voices the assassin Cheshire in the film, a character she also voices in the fan-favourite animated series Young Justice. Nor is it her only time taking on a superhero or villain role as last year she played Lady Shiva in Batman: Soul of the Dragon, portrayed Arrow villainess China White a number of times and fought Wolverine as Lady Deathstrike in X2. We chatted about her portrayal of Cheshire and her many roles in the comic book medium. Check out the interview below…
Ricky Church: Catwoman is one of the most iconic characters ever created. What’s it like for you to star in Catwoman: Hunted, her first animated film?
Kelly Hu: I love that this movie is so female-driven and female-heavy. I don’t think you ever see this many women in one big fight. It was really smart of Greg [Weisman, screenwriter], the way he put the bat fight and the cat fight together. I thought it was really cute. Yeah. But yeah, I love, I love, that this is such a great female-driven film and I love that it’s all bad girls because even the heroines of this film are criminals too! (Laughs) We’re all villains!
Now of course you play Cheshire, an assassin for hire, and like you said you have that cool scene with Catwoman which is a really, really fun fight sequence. What can you tell us about Cheshire and her rivalry with Catwoman?
You know, I really don’t know anything about the background. Apparently, from this film you can tell that they’ve had some backgrounds before, but I had not seen it anywhere in the comic books or anything. So I never knew that they had a history before this.
One of the fun things about Cheshire and you is that you actually play her in Young Justice, which is also from Greg Weisman. Was it strange to voice Cheshire in a different story and setting or were you able to roll with it just like normal?
It was strange only because it was a different director and different setting. Usually when I would do Young Justice I would be in a group setting with all the other actors in a room, but of course since the pandemic everybody would only be able to do their stuff solo. You don’t have group sessions anymore or I haven’t anyway. They space us out even, I think they have to have like 30 minutes between each sessions or air out and sanitize the room and stuff like that. It’s a whole different feel.
And then of course, during the height of the pandemic when nobody was even recording in studios, everybody was still recording at home. That was a whole other thing going on! Lucky for me though, I had just set up my desk area in my guest room as a recording booth where I got these heavy velvet curtains and padded all the walls around the desk and put up all this cloth and stuff to sort of make it mute. But of course, it’s not the same as going into a studio. I’d have to build like a whole actual room within the room and I don’t have the space or the finances for that. So yeah, we have to stop every time there’s the gardener with his leaf blower. (Laughs)
One of the interesting things about you is that you’ve actually had a lot of roles in various DC projects. You’re Cheshire in this and Young Justice, you were China White in Arrow, Lady Shiva in Batman: Soul of the Dragon and even before that in Batman: Arkham Origins. Taking it back even further, not DC but Marvel, you were Lady Deathstrike in X2. What do you find enjoyable about taking on all these superhero roles, whether they’re live-action or animated?
You know, it’s so fun and empowering to be able to play these kind of women. They’re just so strong and strong-willed and often very sarcastic. I think I always get the best dialogue of everyone! (Laughs) And being able to do all this cool fight stuff, I mean, I’ve had such a great career being able to do all these characters. I don’t think anybody else has played as many characters as I have when you count both live-action and animation. I love it! I love it. I love being able to play these characters that are larger than life and are not confined by reality. There no limits or bounds by what they can do.
For sure. And last year with Batman: Soul of the Dragon I was unable to speak with you, but I thought you were great as Lady Shiva. It’s such fun throwback to the old style 70s movies.
Yeah. It’s funny because we don’t often get to see what these are going to be like right when we do it and sometimes you just don’t know what the animation’s going to be stylized like, but with that one in particular I could read the script and I could really feel that 70s vibe coming through the script.
Yeah, definitely. Like I mentioned, you played Shiva in Arkham Origins and in Soul of the Dragon it’s a very Lady Shiva. What were your thoughts on playing her in such a vastly different style?
You know, I don’t even remember the first Shiva, the Arkham Origins. I feel like that was so long ago and there’s also such a long time between, because that was for a video game, right? I think for video games they take even longer than animations to come out because it’s just much more complicated in all the programming and stuff like that. I remember specifically going to a ComicCon, I believe it was in like London or something, and some kid comes up to me with the DVD for the game and he’s like “Will you sign this for me?” and I looked at it and I said “Oh, am I in that? I don’t think I know that” and he goes “No you are!” I said “Really?” and he had to look it up on IMDB to prove to me that I was actually in this video game!
You go into these projects and half the time you don’t even know what the title of the project is called because they have to do it under some pseudonym. And because I’m not a big comic book fan, I don’t know what all the other characters around me are so even though I’m having dialogue with these other characters, I don’t know who they are unless it says Batman or Superman or something like that. I have no idea what universe I’m in! (Laughs)
That’s hilarious! (Laughs) Regarding Catwoman herself, she is over 80 years old now. She was introduced in the very first Batman comic.
Oh, that makes me feel young now!
Why do you think she’s remained so popular after all these decades?
I think people just really get attached to some characters and I feel these roles are just so iconic, especially for young women. You don’t get a lot of powerful women 80 years ago. Most of the women that you would see onscreen on television or film were not kicking ass like they were in comic books. I think that the female character in comic books were just so much more tougher, stronger, more fun for young girls to be able to attach themselves to and for young boys to be able to see as well.
Thank you to Kelly Hu for speaking with us!
In the all-new original Catwoman: Hunted, Catwoman’s attempt to steal a priceless jewel puts her squarely in the crosshairs of both a powerful consortium of villains and the ever-resourceful Interpol, not to mention Batwoman. It might just be enough to contain her. Or not.
Catwoman: Hunted is set for release on Blu-ray, DVD and Blu-ray Steelbook on 7th February 2022 and on Digital Download on the 8th February 2022.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.