ClexaCon ’22: Bridget Regan – The Greatest Villain

ClexaCon ’22: Bridget Regan – The Greatest Villain

We love Bridget Regan here. Her wildly over the top Sin Rostro will go, hands down, as one of the greatest villains in the history of TV. We adore her so much, our 404 page is a tribute to her infamous face-peeling scene.

And just when you might think there’s no way to improve, she took on the complicated, complex, not-a-villain Batman Rogue, Poison Ivy, and got her a love story.

Whew.

It’s no surprise then, that I was ecstatic when I found out I’d get to talk to her at ClexaCon. After some fan-girling about her to my friends, I got nearly half an hour with her, and our friends at Tagg Magazine, to ask the important questions like … would you play Pam in a movie, what’s it like working with Vickie Cartegena, and of course … that mask!

Interview

LezWatch.TV: I have a fun story to get us all in the right mood. I had never watched Jane the Virgin. I’m not really a soap person and the person who covered it was going to be at a concert for the season finale at one point and she said could you watch the show? And I have no idea what’s going on. All the tweets were, I don’t know who this Michael person is but then I get there and I’m like I don’t know who this villain is but I’m in love with her.

Bridget Regan: Yaaaaas!

LezWatch.TV: So then I saw your name on the list [here] and I’m all, I get to interview somebody who got to be my favorite villain twice! 

Regan: [laughing] I don’t know how it happened.

LezWatch.TV: You’re amazing at making villains feel like people and not just like “oh we can just hate her to hate her.” We kind of get why — and especially with Poison Ivy where she’s not a villain.

Regan: She’s also right!

LezWatch.TV: She’s right! 

Tagg Magazine: I’m sorry I’m on Team Pam.

LezWatch.TV: How did it feel to get to play Poison Ivy? Who got a complete story on a show as a guest villain, basically.

Regan: Thank you, yes, it was. There was a nice complete story there. I, unfortunately, I’m greedy and wanted much much more. Secondly it’s not just a — I mean it’s beyond iconic, that character is —  I feel like it’s really embedded into our culture, the imagery of Poison Ivy, all the green, the leaves. Everything was like, I had so much of a relationship to the character before I even began on it that I wasn’t even aware of it! You know, Uma [Thurman]? All of it, you know?

But in terms of her being a quote “villain,” I actually just didn’t think of her as one at all. I thought of her as the hero. Whereas with Rose, she did a lot more naughty things and like murdering and stealing babies. Drugs. That was a little bit harder for me to validate her choices, but I built a big backstory for her and why she was the way she was, and what her upbringing was, and how she was taught to treat people and what her values are. For her, a lot of it was money and wealth and getting it by any means necessary, you know?

I feel like, often villains feel, for me at least, I felt like if I understood why she needed what she needed, I could just then go after it 100%, if I really had that connection. Then the how, I think the how these characters go about getting what they want, that’s where things cross that line of good and bad. Murdering is definitely on the side of bad.

LezWatch.TV: It can be. I really wanted — I know that you had the death scene at the end of Jane the Virgin — but we were all like “Is she really dead?”

Regan: I love that you thought that! [laughter]

LezWatch.TV: It’s a telenovela! By the end I was so invested in this whole thing!

Regan: It was the writers. They were like, look this is the telenovela and in traditional telenovelas Carolina is one of the writers who created the original Jane the Virgin, she was like the villain has to die. Like this is a rule of the telenovela and there has to be no question that she is actually dead, dead, dead.

So it was clear, but I remember hearing about a conversation in the writer’s room where they were debating about what should happen with Rose and Luisa. I think there was a lot of people that were voting for them to get away together because we actually, there’s a lot of people like, well we want to see this queer couple live happily ever after in a lot of ways.

But the truth is, Rose’s actions were so awful, and she is the big main villain of the show, that that side had to win out.

LezWatch.TV: Unfortunately that’s too bad. 

Tagg: It’s challenging though. I’m sure it’s hard to like take yourself out of it a little bit.

Regan: Yeah, it was fun to go out with a bang, I’ll say that. It was such a hilarious statue and the way she was impaled. I mean, I just was like this show. I mean, how am I ever going to beat this? You know, it was so epic. 

LezWatch.TV: So you’ve gotten to play two, basically iconic, queer characters now—

Regan: I mean, I actually think three if you ask me. I think of Dottie [Underwood from Agent Carter] as queer. 

LezWatch.TV: Oh good, it’s not just me. For Rose what was the most — I mean, the whole show was iconic and over the top in so many ways. For us at LezWatch one of ours favorite moments was peeling off the mask to reveal. Like if you go to our 404 page, like typing a page that doesn’t exist. That’s peel off is the reveal because we just love it so much. 

Regan: Ah! Yes! Oh my god!

LezWatch.TV: But what was your favorite thing to film on Jane the Virgin?

Regan: I mean anything with Yara [Martinez, who played Luisa on Jane the Virgin]. Honestly, all of our love scenes. I love that we always had this element of 100% commitment to the truth of the scene. But then there was this element of comedy on top of it that, to me, made Jane the Virgin so special. Everybody was not kind of making fun of the show in their performance. They were really committed to the drama, to the reality, to the love and Yara and I were like this is real love that they’re feeling.

But then you add into these heightened, insane, circumstances and it just makes it so funny.

There was a scene we had where we were in the hallway at the Marbella and she’s like, no, I need to come clean, you know, to my dad, you know, tell them all about my lies and you know, my shaman thinks that it’s really good. There was this moment where I let Rose’s anger come out at her and I felt like, oh this is a real relationship, you know, it felt just felt really genuine.

LezWatch.TV: Yeah, it definitely came across on screen that everyone was that over the top level of camp that you expect from a telenovela, but at the same time, the honesty of what was being portrayed. Which is why the love stories work so well.

Regan: Like I would watch Jane the Virgin and I would be in tears in a scene with the three generations, you know, Abuela, and Jane and her mother and like the three of these women on this bench and I was like, there’s so much heart in this show. There’s so much genuine love. I just think it was really, really special special

Tagg: Some scenes were definitely tear jerkers, but healthy.

Regan: Healthy, healthy. Yes, sometimes it’s good to let it out, you know.

LezWatch.TV: Happy gay panic.

Regan: Happy gay panic. 

LezWatch.TV: So since you’ve gotten to play these two, well three iconic queer roles—

Regan: Thank you. 

LezWatch.TV: —how have you seen the landscape of queer representation change? Because you’ve done so many, you’ve got — you have a repertoire going on and now you’re in this world.

Regan: I was actually having a conversation exactly about this upstairs a moment ago. When I first started out, I felt like queer characters were often the token side character and it was they tended to be very limited in what would happen with them. Or they would be just kind of one note and I feel like now there’s such a range and great depth of representation.

I mean especially on Batwoman my gosh. I feel like there’s room for so much. There’s gay villains, there’s gay heroes. It’s not so limited anymore which I love. Even on Legend of the Seeker, was like just the beginning when they introduced the Mord-Sith and these women that would have these fluid relationships. But sexuality was also their weapon and it was very intriguing and different. That felt like the beginning of it and I felt like it was I’ve been lucky to be a part of a really exciting time in television where the representation has changed over the years. I just hope it keeps growing because honestly like when I come to events like this or any event, most of my fans are queer.

Like most of my really dedicated super supportive fans are young queer women and it’s what I’m most proud of in my career. That I have done any work that’s resonated with them or that they’ve had any sort of joy and that any of my work has brought them any sort of validation would mean the world to me 

LezWatch.TV: After playing villains, what kind of queer non villainous role would you just love to play? Like somebody please write this for you? 

Regan: I don’t think of Pamela as queer as a villain. I do think of her as a queer woman who’s a hero. So I would love to do more of her. But that’s a very um you know, unfortunately Batwoman ran it’s course. But you never know. So that would be my first choice mostly because I feel — I see the appetite for it up there.

People loved it and that character, everybody’s drawn to myself included. So that would be my first choice and then moving forward from there… I mean — I just find, as a culture, the direction we’re going where sexuality isn’t so black and white and gender isn’t so black and white? I’m just drawn to what’s happening there. Not having things so defined or limiting. 

Bridget Regan and Katrina Law © LezWatch.TV 2022

LezWatch.TV: One of my personal favorite actors, and the person I feel embodies Renee Montoya, who is my favorite of the Bat World’s cop characters … what was it like working with Vickie Cartagena?

Regan: [long gasp] She’s a dream, she’s an absolute dream and I honestly just wish we had more together. We felt like we were just getting started. In a way it’s a little heartbreaking, but we knew DC was very precious with Poison Ivy and they said three episodes. And as they should be [protective], I think she’s one of the best villains of all time in terms of what she’s done in the comic books and the animated series and everything, all the iterations.

But working with Vickie, she’s a really positive, focused, energetic and supportive partner and I felt like we just got a little peek into their relationship and it just went by in a flash. 

LezWatch.TV: They’re making more — because you love the character — they’re making more movies with Harley Quinn and the Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy relationship is —

Regan: I’m obsessed with it in the animated series. Love it so much.

LezWatch.TV: So if they called you and said, would you play Poison Ivy in a Harley Quinn movie, would you be there in a heartbeat?

Regan: Twist my arm. Who knows what’s going to happen in that world. I think that bringing her into the movies would be, would be really dope, whether it’s me or someone else, I would just be excited to see it. And I think the fans really want it, you know, and that’s what’s most important to me.

Tagg: Could you talk a little bit, I’m gonna jump backwards a little bit, about jumping into a role that is sort of pre existing like Poison Ivy versus let’s say Rose or something else.

Regan: I prefer when there’s existing material, like with Legend of the Seeker, I had like 35,000 books to read to try to get my head around that. But I love it. I am a nerd like that, I want research, I want homework. I feel like it’s a way to stall my actual prep.

And I always looking for ways to procrastinate. With Dottie, with Black Widow, there was so much there to learn about Natasha and then kind of piece together what would be before her. I prefer it when there’s something if I had to make a choice, but with something like Rose, I didn’t know anything.

All I knew was that she was having an affair with her stepdaughter, that’s all I knew. I deduced what I could, but then along the way I thought I might be Sin Rostro and I was crossing my fingers but I didn’t want to say it out loud because I didn’t want to jinx it because I was so scared that it wasn’t going to be me. But then once, once that was revealed, I felt like I could really run with it.

It’s different every time, you know, each character is sort of, especially in tv, things reveal themselves episode by episode. I think the actor’s job is to just take those quick pivots and go, okay, cool and all right, we’re going on this way, you know, and just run with it as opposed to go, oh that was my plan, you know, really go with it, especially for telenovela, for sure, lots of pivoting. A lot of sharp turns.

Tagg: So one more question. You were speaking a little bit before about thinking about the motivations behind Rose and sort of why she was the way she was. Was part of that thinking a little bit more about her younger life and sort of what that was like? Would you ever think about like some sort of like a prequel, not that that will ever happen…

Regan: I built the whole thing in my head that worked for me, so that I could feel. Because what I didn’t want with her is for her to just be bad, you know. I wanted her — the ultimate goal was to have the audience be on Rose’s side which was a tall order. But I built this whole storyline for her, and how her and Luisa actually met. and then I got the script for the flashback and it was totally different than what I had built! I had to be like okay, so that’s actually what happened and not what I thought of and you throw things out as you go along and just keep rolling with it.

But we got the flashbacks, which were probably my favorite element of the show, because it explored Rose’s softer side, which I love. I love that Jenny wrote this where you have this really strong villain but then you find her achilles heel, you find her weak spot and it’s Luisa. Then you keep putting her with that weak spot and seeing what she does, how does she squirm, what makes her lose her mind, what makes her become completely vulnerable? That’s where I would, I just love to live with her. Because if she’s just in power and she’s just you know, like it’s not as interesting.

It’s not as fun to just see someone being a badass and always winning, you know. I like to see those moments of weakness

Tagg: For sure and I know there’s also the argument like some people are like oh my favorite character can’t be a bad character, it can’t be a villain. Some people are like oh I don’t like them because of the choices they make, but it could still be a well written character and very likable and very well done. I know in some of the panels yesterday some people were touching on that and I was like if they make bad choices you still can like them.

Regan: I mean we all make mistakes. 

LezWatch.TV: That’s the draw of a well written character and a well performed character.

Regan: Exactly! And there’s a difference between like well written, well performed and like a good person.

Tagg: I will say that Jane The Virgin was outrageously well written and in the comedy side as well as the drama. It was just a perfect marriage in my opinion and I loved how it mocked and mimicked the telenovela at the same time. It was very aware of what it was and it just was so playful at its heart.

Regan: Definitely. I think the editing definitely went into that as well.

LezWatch.TV: I was telling people that it was a telenovela that Middle America could fall for. And that was that was so important because as queers, we grow up watching content that is written for other people and inserting ourselves in and trying to find the glimpses of ourselves. And then you turn it around and you make Jane The Virgin, it’s like this is not about you but … And it’s like all the people that grow up seeing, well television has always been made for me. Television always looks like me. Television people are like me and then suddenly it’s not at all like me but I’m interested in it.

Regan: It’s relatable.

LezWatch.TV: Yes, relatable, and making that jump, it takes just the synergy between the writing and the acting to make that work. And I feel like yes Rose is a villain. Rose cannot really be redeemed at the end but … still were like but we’re rooting for her because she’s like just this perfect, terrible person.

Regan: Perfectly terrible, I know! That’s that’s so great to hear because that is the goal, that is the ultimate goal with the villain.

LezWatch.TV: So what are you working on now? Can you tell us what next?

Regan: I’m not supposed to. [complaining] I was actually trying to push it to get the release before I came here.

LezWatch.TV: But you’re working on something! That’s good!

Regan: Yes. And I have a couple of Indy’s coming out as well, ones being edited right now and another one is premiering at the L.A. Film festival in September. Then yeah a couple of tv things and then, you know, always looking. Doesn’t stop. The hustle never ends in this career choice that I’ve made.

LezWatch.TV: It sounds like you’re still enjoying the choice, though. 

Regan: I am. I mean it’s a roller coaster. You know, there’s highs and lows and I think just hanging on and enjoying the ride. I know that’s a cliche metaphor but it really is appropriate for the job. Because honestly it’s it’s weird one day you’re you don’t know where you’re going and the next day you’re on a flight to wherever and you know you’re packing your bags and you know it’s just very unexpected.

LezWatch.TV: You mentioned kind of what your favorite things were on Jane the Virgin, what were they on Batwoman? You only had three episodes but I’m sure —

Regan: Well, the fight with Javicia at the end felt like the perfect culmination. I mean to have Poison Ivy and Batwoman face off — it had to happen, you know? And the choreography I thought was really really clever and cool to have her fight with vines like whips. [mimes whips] To have a practical element there as opposed to just a CGI thing made the fight more visceral for me. 

For Javicia and I, we could do more of the fight then as opposed to just imagining vines shooting out here and it’s gonna hit there you have to look there and imagine it grabs. We did have to do some of that but I actually had practical vines. We could bang them in the water and hit them on the walls and stuff like that so that was pretty epic.

And then, I particularly loved the flashback scene where Renee and Pam are. The two flashback scenes where they’re butting heads and we’re seeing how Pam has shifted and her motives and her really deep need to right these wrongs were starting to take over her. We saw that the strain it was creating in their relationship and just that peak into this dynamic of these two women and how they once had a compatible loving relationship. But now Pam’s need for redemption and correction for all these wrongs that have been going on. I feel that was a great window into who these women are, what their relationship was and is now.

LezWatch.TV: Did you get to do your own stunts then?

Regan: I did a lot of them. I couldn’t do like the — I’m not like a back handspringer or a front handspring. I forget what it was but there’s an amazing stunt team up there and they really, really know how to make it happen. But yeah I did, I fought a little bit with Javicia and a little bit with her double and then she worked a little with me and then with my double. We kind of do a little trade off so that they can favor the camera angle to get whoever’s faces but also wanting to be safe.

Tagg: I feel like as a viewer, I try so hard not to think about the stunts. I’m like, I’m in it. I’m in it, I’m watching it, but it’s impressive. Very impressive. And I’m a film editor kind of person. I studied film in school so I’m like, I really wonder how this happened, but I’m like, but that side of my brain away try and enjoy it for what it is very impressive. I do not know how it was done. It was very cool.

Regan: It was very cool. And that set, they really pulled out the stops. It was like, it was a huge movie set, just tons of water being pumped in and just coming from the ceilings and all these lights exploding. It was awesome. It was really, really special. 

LezWatch.TV: Speaking of safety… How has Covid changed everything?

Regan: It changed everything. It really has.The hardest thing for me, or the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make, I should say, is we used to go into rooms and talk with casting directors and producers and directors about character and collaborate and start a conversation at an audition. Whereas now you’re on your own and you’re at home making your audition tapes or you’re making them with a friend or going to a studio and there’s no conversation really about the character. There’s no asking questions or getting it going. So you’re really just throwing darts and hoping that they’re landing somewhere near the center, you know. 

But I’m following what excites me the most and what lights me up and thankfully I’m getting better at it, but it was a long time being like oh man I suck at this. I prefer being in a space with other people and sharing the same air and collaborating. So that’s been my biggest adjustment but being back at work, you know, look, we’re in a very creative industry and I knew that the crews and production, we’re gonna figure it out. I was like if anyone can figure out this covid thing, it’s it’s them. Everybody is so creative and smart and you know, we’ve figured it out and we’re making it work so so far so good, you know. 

Tagg: For sure. I feel like someone yesterday said something like you know, 2020 to 2022 is really the time of the pivot. And creative people have always been pivoting. 

Regan: For sure. We were and we are.

LezWatch.TV: Do you think that the creative world is going to be struggling now with changes like that are happening on HBOMax and merging with Discovery and basically pivoting to reality tv.

Regan: Well I feel like that stuff always been happening and always been… There’s merges and changes all the time. I think change is the one guarantee we can count on. In the end, I don’t know the answer to that. But I feel, like when they come to events like this, I see that the desire for scripted comedy drama isn’t going anywhere. You know, people still want it. Love it. So I don’t think it’ll be changing fingers crossed otherwise I’m unemployed.

Tagg: I’ve got a question and I’m going to try and figure out how to phrase it correctly.

Regan: Ohhh go for it.

Tagg: Of course, I do not remember this actress’s name, but the blonde that was you with a mask basically.

Regan: Elizabeth Rohm and Megan Ketch.

Tagg: Yes. How did you prep them on that?

Regan: Well, it was all in the direction and in the actual practical, there was like all these elements of the practical aspect. So Megan had a piece — she was the first one that played Rose.

She had a piece, like a prosthetic that was like skin, her skin color and kind of glued on and she would reach into the jacket and start to peel it and then she’d get up to a point where it was covering her face that yelled cut and we had actually taped out feet on the ground, she’d run off, I’d go in, I’d put my feet on the mark, put my hand exactly where her hand was, they’d yell action and I had like a piece of it in my hand and then I’d pull it off and then the magic of editing and movie magic. They put it together. And we had to do it a lot and all the effects people were there and they were, they had a lot of notes to make sure we were doing everything right so that their edit would work but it was great.

[NB: Here we paused to show her the gif]

Regan: [laughing] I can’t! Yara’s face in this! 

LezWatch.TV: Her face journey is just so epic.

Regan: I mean she should have won an Emmy for that face journey! It was so good, it was so good. But yeah, that was a lot of fun practically speaking. Obviously Megan and I were wearing the same outfit, all those things that we needed. Now, I’m just going to put my LezWatch sticker [on my badge]. 

Tagg: So acting wise, was there any sort of prep for the two of them? Should they be having mannerisms like you because they were supposed to be or did they not want to hint at that because that would tip off the audience?

Regan: Well they wanted, they wanted us to sound really different, you know, Megan had a southern accent. She had to fool Luisa, you know, which is pretty wild. So no, there was no hint of wanting to be the same. The only thing was… I was taller than Megan, so like she had to wear lifts on her shoes so that when we were in a shot together, we had to make sure we were the same height. Just practical stuff like that.

Obviously production and costume design figured it out. We had to be similar body types and things like that.

LezWatch.TV: We had the hardest time figuring out how to record the various different characters because so we have an entry for every character, so we’re adding these characters, but they’re all Rose, how do we do this? We ended up adding each of the different personas because they were fully fleshed out characters and that was the best way to do it.

Regan: I love it! Oh— I have to go. 

LezWatch.TV & Tagg: Thank you!

Regan: Thank you guys so much!

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.

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