Batwoman’s Sam Littlefield on playing Mouse, his relationship with Alice

Batwoman is nearing its season finale, and it’ll be airing on May 17, 2020. It stars Ruby Rose as Kate Kane, Bruce Wayne’s cousin and the new hero of Gotham City. The big bad for the first season is Alice, who has run amok in the city. Helping her along the way is Mouse, who’s played by Sam Littlefield.

When the opportunity arose to interview Littlefield, we jumped at the chance. And it’s very fitting since the first season finale is titled, “O, Mouse!” The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Nerd Reactor: Give us a little rundown on your character and what your character does in the show.

Sam Littlefield: Yeah, my [character’s] name is Jonathan Cartwright, but I go by Mouse. I am a part of the Wonderland gang. Alice and I are partners in crime, causing mayhem throughout Gotham. It’s been a wild ride. I really had the best time during the show.

I love the family drama, and nothing connects me more than brothers and sisters trying to fend for themselves against the whole world. What did you have to do to channel this? Did you pull from your personal experiences?

Well, I have a sister. [laughs] It’s a complex relationship filled with a lot of love and history. It’s been a journey coming to understand who Mouse is and what makes him tick. And the writers gave me some really beautiful scenes to draw from, and in a lot of ways, there was a lot of collaboration. I would do a scene and the writers would come and bring something based on that scene that I would then work on.

My relationship with Rachel Skarsten, who plays Alice, our dynamic and the way we work together was so collaborative and creative. It was really a season of discovery. I was discovering who Mouse was myself along the way with the audience, and I really have grown to love him. And I think that he sort of exemplifies kind of what we’re all going through and sort of trying to discover who we are as ourselves. When you first meet Mouse, he’s kind of an overgrown child. Throughout the course of the show, you start to see him take flight and figure out who he is in this really nutty world of Gotham.

If someone were to ask you to describe the relationship between Mouse and Alice, what would your description be? Like is it brother and sister? Something more?

People always asked me, “Are they going to get together?” I think that they just have such a shared traumatic experience in that basement and whatever took place in that basement when they were children. It’s a secret that only they can relate to and share between the two of them. They truly are partners in crime that are. I think they’re trying to make themselves whole by enacting revenge and coming to terms with whatever was placed on them. They were vulnerable children and didn’t have the power to stand up for themselves as they are now coming into adulthood. They are sloppily trying to take their own make their own narrative in a way.

We’re pretty sure there’s a hashtag for their relationship somewhere.

Malice. We came up with Malice (Mouse and Alice).

Is that a real thing?

I tried to make it a thing, but it didn’t really seem to take off. Gabriel Mann (Thomas Elliot) came up with the idea for Malice, and I embraced it. We’re both like, “Yeah, that’s awesome.” But it didn’t seem to take off. Maybe after today. I think they just have a very complex dynamic. Alice has her own goals outside of Mouse, and I think that Mouse sometimes thinks that he owns her. I think that sort of lays the groundwork for a complex dynamic between the two of them.

I don’t know if there’s any part during filming where you feel like, “We’re going off the deep end,” or “This is really dark.” There is a lot of dark stuff happening with these two characters.

I don’t know about you, but I guess I don’t know that much network television myself. I am pretty surprised at how dark and complex the history of these characters are. It’s surprising to me that we’re able to get away with a lot, and I think it’s super cool. Yeah, I love that stuff.

Spoiler alert. There’s a certain scene where your character’s dad tries to kill himself. I was like, “Wait a minute. Am I watching a CW show?”

That episode I remember was so great. There was a lot going on. John Emmet Tracy is a fabulous actor. That scene that I did in the hospital bed with him was one of my favorite moments on set. He’s really great guy to bounce things off of.

Do you get to interact with Ruby Rose, or are most of your scenes separate?

Actually, most of my interactions were definitely with Rachel. Cameron’s apartment was really near mind, so we ended up developing our own independent relationship. Ruby’s great, she’s so busy. She’s carrying the entire show. And our show primarily films in tandem units. There are two film crews going on all the time. And Ruby was constantly bouncing between both units in order to get enough coverage to get the episode done. But they were very ambitious in what they have been trying to do in accomplishing an entire episode. Batwoman’s entire season is about Batwoman, and Ruby has to be there in all the places at all times. So I dig her. Yes, we do have a working relationship.

I had this awesome situation where I was flying back and forth every week. I live in Los Angeles, and so it was always just such a trip. I was telling my friends that it’s almost like booting up like in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall where I’m in another reality living in LA, and then I fly up there and I’m suddenly just in Gotham. My sister came and visited me in my hotel room and was looking around. She’s like, “This is so unreal.” And it really is. It’s unreal. It was an unreal scenario.

As an actor, could you describe a little bit about working with prosthetics? What’s it like acting through that, and do you have to over articulate your stuff? Do you find it challenging in any way?

I remember in the very beginning when they first flew me up there. I’m normally blonde – blonde short hair. Within the first week of getting the job, I’m flying up to Vancouver, and it was a 10-hour process of putting hair extensions in my head, and then the makeup test. There were around eight hair tests and something like six or seven makeup tests. At first, I was kind of intimidated about trying to act through the makeup. After a while, it really just becomes second nature. And I had such a close-knit relationship with my makeup team, Jen, Sam and Felix in particular. We had our own trailer that was just for us. It was basically the B unit trailer, but it ended up being sort of our makeshift trailer.

And so every day, there are two and a half hours of makeup that I do, and I’m able to download the scenes with them and work through lines. “How do I say this line,” or “What do you think of this part?” And so it just became second nature, but also it’s really informative. When you think about an eight-year-old boy getting his face completely marred, and immediately being treated as someone who is not fit to exist in society. A little boy like that, that’s just so devastating. I remember looking in the mirror after our first makeup test, and I was just so struck with how sad that is.

Was it daunting with the long makeup process?

Oh, the makeup was one of my favorite times. The process of putting it on and then getting on set, and then taking it off, it was kind of a ritual. And again, my makeup team were some of my favorite people. They’re just down-to-earth awesome people. You can go on the CW Batwoman Instagram page. I just did a takeover and there’s a bunch of footage of us, putting on the makeup, working with the team. It’s some of my favorite times. It was not daunting at all.

The hair was very daunting. Imagine sitting in a hair chair for 10 hours straight. Every time you get up to get a drink of water, go to the bathroom or whatever, that’s just adding more time onto this incredibly long process of putting these very tiny hair extensions and gluing them to your hair one by one. And I have the most incredible hair team.

What’s up next for you, Sam?

I had my movie just came out recently, on iTunes, Amazon and VOD. It’s called Mother’s Little Helpers. It premiered at South by Southwest Film Festival. We had a fabulous film festival circuit. We went all over the country, and it’s very exciting to have this movie come out. It’s with Milana Vayntrub. But we all co-wrote and co-produced and starred in this film that we shot over the course of eight days. It’s about a family stuck in isolation, waiting for their Boomer mother to pass away and losing their minds. Basically, it’s a quarantine comedy.

Not a coincidence, right?

Not at all. It’s accidentally so much more relevant than we had ever intended it to be. So it’s very strange and funny that it’s coming out right now. But my hope is that it offers a little bit of comfort for people to see their experience reflected back at them.

With the quarantine we have right now, are you still able to work on different kinds of projects through different mediums?

Yeah. When we finished filming the finale, Trump had declared the national emergency and they closed down the California borders. We finished filming at like 8:30 in the morning, and they immediately wanted to put me on a plane to get back down to California. I wasn’t really comfortable doing that, so I ended up taking a Greyhound, crossing the border and holding Lysol wipes up to my face and went to Seattle. I was with my nephews and we filmed this movie on my iPhone about a magician and his relationship with the mind. But I’m convinced it’s going to go to Cannes. [laughs]

I feel like this is a time when technology is really meant for the moment, and I feel like there’s going to be a lot of cool art coming out at this time with people using the assets that they have available to them to make whatever it is they can. We have no option. We have to just make our own stuff.

You can watch the full video interview below:

The finale episode airs May 17, 2020 on The CW.

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John Nguyen
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