Fil-Korean Actress Ella Jay Basco Talks About Playing Batgirl In Harley Quinn Movie 'Birds Of Prey'

The actress on working with Margot Robbie, having a Filipina stunt double, and the rise of female superheroes in pop culture.
PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/ELLAJAYBASCO AND MARGOTROBBIE

In a recent interview, Filipino-Korean actress Ella Jay Basco talks about playing Cassandra Cain aka Batgirl in the upcoming movie Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn). The young actress said she went in five times during the month-long audition process. “I watched a bunch of movies, practiced my martial arts skills, and even read some comic books about Cassandra Cain to prepare,” she said in a feature by A Book Of.

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When her mom and agent told her she got the part, she couldn’t believe it. “I worked really hard on this role and got emotional because I wanted this part so bad! I mean I totally cried. I knew from that moment on, my life would change forever.” 

She called Margot Robbie, who plays Harley Quinn, a “phenomenal mentor and leader.” Ella said, “She is the ultimate professional and takes charge like a boss. We would joke around on set, rap to Cardi B, and make up silly hand games. Margot made work exciting and fun. She was super collaborative. When we rehearsed, she always made sure I was okay and asked me if I wanted to try something different. It was definitely intimidating working alongside an A-list actor, but at the same time I was freaking out just meeting Margot.”

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Ella had a great time working with Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Dinah Lance aka Black Canary), Rosie Perez (Renee Montoya), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Helena Bertinelli aka Huntress), too. “We had this one scene where Margot, Jurnee, Rosie, Mary, and I had to improv the majority of it. That entire day we were laughing, making jokes, and having a great time. The director, Cathy Yan, told us to do a bunch of silly things that made us smile the whole day.”

A Filipina stunt double named Marissa Labog had Ella’s back throughout the filming process. “[She] really helped me shape the character of Cassandra Cain. Marissa always made sure that I was safe and I really appreciate all of her hard work.”

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On the rise of female superheroes in film and on TV, Ella said, “Well, I think it should've happened a long time ago! Little girls should look up to strong women and see that they can be a superhero, too. I'm so grateful and happy to be a part of this movement. It was super cool to see my other female cast mates in their superhero gear kicking butt.”

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Born in the U.S. to a Filipino father and a Korean mother, Ella previously appeared in TV shows Grey’s Anatomy, Veep, and Teachers. Her uncle is Dante Basco, who voiced Prince Zuko in the TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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Birds Of Prey is scheduled for release in February 2020.

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