Batgirl star Leslie Grace reveals the hurtful way she found out her film was cancelled

A still from the now axed Batgirl showing actor Leslie Grace as Batgirl.

Batgirl star Leslie Grace has broken her silence on the surprise cancellation of the DC Studios film after finding out on the internet.

The film, already in post-production with a budget of more than $90 million (£74 million), was reportedly spiked due to a “strategic shift”, although sources told the New York Post that it was “irredeemable” after a first screening.

The news stirred a huge backlash, especially considering it was set to feature the first DC Universe trans character, Alysia Yeoh, played by Ivory Aquino.

Aquino penned a heartfelt letter on Twitter to the DCU bosses, saying: “As much as I’ve tried my best to be strong these past few weeks, I’d find myself crying, for lack of a better term, from grief, and tonight was one of those nights.”

And now, the lead star herself, Leslie Grace, has shared the hurtful way she discovered that the film had been axed, and the fallout of the decision.

“I found out like the rest of you,” she told Variety about seeing the news break in the New York Post, “and then my phone just started blowing up.”

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Ivory Aquino was set to star as trans character Alysia Yeoh in the now cancelled Batgirl alongside Leslie Grace. (Getty)
Ivory Aquino was set to star as trans character Alysia Yeoh. (Getty)

Grace added: “It was like deflating a balloon. On that day, I was very much just taking it all in, but also so sure of the magic that happened – in my experience and what I saw in my cast, in our team – that I was like, ‘This must be some crazy thing that we have no control over.'”

She shared her “optimistic and positive” ethos after the cancellation, adding: “I just leaned on the beauty of the idea that I got to have this experience in my life. Even though I would’ve loved to share that with the rest of the world, nothing can take that experience away.”

She was not alone in finding out online rather than in confidence, as co-star Brendan Fraser, who was set to appear as supervillain Firefly, shared: “I thought I was getting punked, but it checked out. Then came hysterical laughter like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.'”

In fact, the news was so unexpected that Fraser – who’s currently receiving rave reviews for his portrayal of a gay character in The Whale – had been waiting to hear whether the film would push for a cinema release, with original plans for it to immediately stream on HBO Max.

DC Studios joint chief executive Peter Safran tried to justify the decision, saying: “That film was not releasable, and it happens sometimes. The team made a very bold and courageous decision to cancel it because it would have hurt DC.”

However the stance received criticism from fans who pointed out The Flash, starring Ezra Miller, was still going ahead despite the actors controversial past.

Ezra Miller as The Flash in upcoming film. (Warner Bros)
Ezra Miller as The Flash in upcoming film. (Warner Bros)

Grace’s response to Safran’s comments was to share she had “had her own meetings with Warner Bros” about the project.

“There are a lot of things that I learned through the experience about moviemaking, that as an actress you have no control over.

“They weren’t really specific on anything creative in terms of what they felt about the film and how it would’ve hurt DC creatively.

“But I’m a human being, and people have perceptions and people read things. And when words are expressed very lightly about work that people really dedicated a lot of time to – not just myself but the whole crew – I can understand how it could be frustrating.”

Despite Safran and fellow chief executive James Gunn saying they were still eager to work with the cast and crew on various projects, Grace confirmed: “I haven’t heard from them. But I wish them the best on all the plans that they’ve got rolling out.”

As for the impact on representation, especially within the DCU, Fraser added: “What I find most lamentable is that now a whole generation of little girls are going to have to wait longer to see a Batgirl and say, ‘Hey, she looks like me.’

“That makes me sad. I know how good she was and I know what this would mean to so many people.”