Kaitlin Moore of ‘Batman Unburied’ on Uncovering a Villain’s Past

For Batman Unburied star Kaitlin Moore, coming of age and learning to perform were nearly synonymous. Growing up in Los Angeles, she’d been surrounded by actors, writers, and creators of all sorts for as long as she can remember, and her parents were quick to foster that same sense of creativity in her. “Lots of family friends are part of the entertainment industry in some way, so my parents put me in acting class when I was three.” For most kids, it’s easy to drop hobbies as quickly as they’re picked up, but Moore’s dedication to the arts was “the one thing that never faltered.” She acknowledged that that constant reinvention and exploration of self is essential to growing into one’s own as a person, but “even to this day, I can’t imagine myself not wanting to act. I have a lot of things I want to do, not just acting, but acting is like the first thing that’s like my favorite thing in the whole world.”

With a degree in Directing from Chapman University’s Film Production program under her belt, Kaitlin wasted no time building her own resume credits. Wanting to make a Screen Actors Guild-affiliated project so could eventually join the union, she and Erin Orcutt co-wrote and directed Something’s in the Air, a pilot about three friends who encounter “unimaginable horrors” when exploring their new neighborhood. “It was something that we really wanted to do together, just creating our own project… That’s a great way for actors to kind of take control into their own hands as well.” She emphasized that actors can often feel like their career is out of their hands, decided by casting directors who are each looking for something different, but “I think the best thing you can do is be like, ‘Hey, I have a story I want to tell. I’m going to produce it. I’m going to write it. I’m going to make it.’ And then you can further your career in that way.” Moore and Orcutt did end up becoming eligible to join the union through that pilot, and Kaitlin can’t recommend that path enough for anyone wanting to make that jump and stretch a few creative muscles at the same time. The two are still working on developing the series, and eventually the two hope to pitch it to production companies and take it on the festival route. “It was really fun to do, and I got to work with people that I really love.”

Not long after, Moore booked a featured extra role on America’s Most Wanted. “Just being on that set was amazing because there was so much going on, being part of such a big crew and knowing that it was a network show,” meaning that millions of people across the country would be tuning in to see her. The bigger scale was incredibly exciting for her first project of that kind, especially with the opportunity to work alongside actors who were all in various stages of their careers. “The director was so, so involved with featured background characters, and I really enjoyed that energy.” Having submitted her own audition on Casting Networks, a popular resource for connecting creators with talent, Moore got the part herself, a move she was particularly proud of “because again, I feel like as an actor, you’ve got to put yourself out there, so it’s really nice when you’re getting responses, and you’re like, ‘Okay, I could do this.’”

If comic book fans have learned anything in the near-century of comic books, films, and series focusing on the iconic Dark Knight, it’s that Gotham City will always need Batman. But what if Bruce Wayne wasn’t coming to the rescue at all, not for selfish reasons or a move to retirement, but because he didn’t remember being a superhero at all? That’s the premise of DC’s smash hit audio drama Batman Unburied. As Wayne and Barbara Gordon untangle the complicated web of riddles and mysteries in Gotham, they encounter iconic heroes and villains, some of whom are still on the first page of their own origin stories. One of those characters is the plant-loving Poison Ivy, whose journey to villainy is illuminated by her love interest Alex, voiced by Moore.

“[Alex] has a huge impact on Poison Ivy’s journey, and that’s one of the things… [that] made me so excited about her, because in this, it really feels like the part of her that is still human and the part of her that she really connected to and cut deep for her is the breakup with Alex.” After witnessing Pamela (the villain’s alter ego) use her powers to exact retribution in a shocking way, but not knowing the full reasoning behind it, Alex essentially ghosts her. No matter how much Poison Ivy tries to deny the impact of that loss, it only contributes to her descent into darkness. “They were really young when they were together… and Poison Ivy is still really hopeful in trying to figure out how to handle her power and how to change herself.” Kaitlin was thrilled to take on the role of someone so important to the iconic villain, but because she represented the sweeter and more honest parts of Pamela. “It was cool to be a piece of her that isn’t the villain, that’s the layered person, because she’s in there.” To Kaitlin, that’s the core of the podcast: examining the complex, lesser-known layers of these heroes and antiheroes, “seeing who they are and their backstory and getting to really learn about why they are who they are,” so listeners everywhere can perhaps develop a new understanding of all the characters they thought they knew.

Though the nature of audio dramas and the magic of editing allows a lot more flexibility in separately scheduling actors’ recording sessions, it can often feel strange for voice performers to only have one side of a conversation in the studio. However, Moore was lucky enough to record alongside her Poison Ivy (Emmy Raver-Lampman of Hamilton and Umbrella Academy fame) through Zoom sessions linking their studios. “It was so awesome working with her. She was amazing.” After months upon months of jumping over the hurdles of virtual connection in pandemic times, the initial peculiarity of that separation faded quickly, and “you still get to bounce off of each other, so it’s not that different.” And acting alone in a studio presented some benefits as well, thanks to a reduced sense of pressure. “You don’t have all the craziness of people walking or running around, so you can find that calm within yourself a bit easier than if you were on a film set.” Due to those aforementioned busy schedules, not everyone on the series was able to have that luxury of working directly with their scene partners, “so it was really fortunate that I actually got to do my scene with her.”

Moore admitted that the podcast medium as a whole felt like “unexplored territory” going in, and one particular challenge she faced was building the confidence to understand that “your voice is enough. Since you don’t have that visual component, I think there’s a tendency sometimes to really feel like you need to push a little bit more, in that you maybe need to over-tell.” So much of human connection and interpreting others’ feelings comes from intuitively reading the most minute of facial expressions, so without the ability to recreate that for a character, an actor has to strike a balance between working to express those micro-reactions with only their voice and reserving the performance so it’s not overblown. What Kaitlin found was that “they always say the camera picks up everything, [but] so does the microphone.” Through recording Batman Unburied, she learned, “You have to really trust that what you’re doing is enough to show the nuance and all of that, but you don’t have to overthink too much. If you’re acting, and you’re really in it, and it’s something you’re connected to when you’re in the scene, your voice is going to do the work.” Strengthening that trust in her own talent and the listener’s attention to detail took time, but Moore is confident in both, knowing that the audience “will pick up how everything sounds.”

It feels obvious to say that Batman is one of the most hugely popular and iconic characters in all of fiction, with a special recent fervor after the acclaimed Robert Pattinson reboot, and Moore admitted that she was feeling the heat rising a little bit when she accepted the role. “There’s such a community, such a fanbase for the DC world, and I didn’t want anyone to feel like I didn’t do my part justice or anything like that… You want to do a good job, and you want people to be excited about it, because you know people are really looking forward to this piece.” That excitement has definitely turned from hope into reality, as Batman fans have responded overwhelmingly positively to the show, quickly pushing it to the number one spot in the Spotify podcast rankings. Kaitlin knew that people would be excited about the show, but she was still blown away when it reached that landmark, especially for the fact that people all over the globe are tuning in. “That’s really exciting and also scary I guess, but really cool, just knowing it’s being received well and people want to spend time really listening to this. It’s a choice to do that. You only have so much time, and people are so excited about spending time really listening to it.”

Of course, audio dramas have been around for as long as there’s been radios to play them on, but Moore has noticed a sort of revival moment for the form, and she hopes “that Batman Unburied breaks the seal for a lot of different people to also be like, ‘You know, this is such a cool form of storytelling.’” The audience gets to be a more active participant, crafting the images in their own mind to visualize the story how they want to see it, and it’s an incredibly exciting medium for creators as well. “I think it’s something that can be much more affordable to do and make instead of TV or film.” Once you’ve got the basic equipment, the sky’s the limit for what you can create using the dialogue and some key sound effects or ambience. “You can tell any story. You can be as wacky with it or as simple with it. It’s really, really awesome for allowing yourself to express in a very free way.”

With Pride Month recently resparking conversations about queer characters in media, Batman Unburied served as a reminder that casual representation like the relationship between Poison Ivy and Alex can be just as impactful as any other. “She has been able to figure out who she was from a younger age, and we don’t see that process for her necessarily, but I think it’s really beautiful for people to have that representation.” At the end of the day, all that’s important is “that you can see the love,” which Moore and Raver-Lampman developed to great success. Kaitlin joked: “Well, you can’t see the love; you can hear the love.” If listeners are feeling that support, she feels like she’s done her job. Poison Ivy has long been included in the canon of LGBTQ+ comics characters, her relationship with Harley Quinn becoming a particularly popular one in fan circles, and Moore would love to see that story on screen as well.

Next, Kaitlin will be starring in the Tribeca official selection Modes of Thought from Alexander Kemp and Toby Lawless, the team behind Batman Unburied. She’d met Kemp on another audio drama of his, a more fantastical musical drama that they’re tinkering with and hope to turn into a live project soon. Kaitlin couldn’t praise the two creators enough for their creativity and collaboration, and she’s excited for Batman Unburied fans to explore the unique minds of those two more in Modes of Thought. “There’s some themes that are very similar, actually, but the tone of it is very different. Batman Unburied, if you close your eyes, feels kind of like a movie. You can visualize it, and it’s really expressive and everything. Modes of Thought is more realistic. You feel like you’re listening in on something that you shouldn’t necessarily be listening in on, so it feels like something that you could find… One is very theatrical, and one is not at all.”

“The biggest takeaway is that I’m still on my acting journey and putting myself out there as much as I can. It’s really cool to know that just as an actor, there’s so many avenues.” For any other young actors looking to break their way into the industry, Moore advises being “open-minded as far as where you find your niche to start and then expanding past that, and knowing that you can totally do it… If you’re passionate about it, just do it, and know that there’s ways to take it in your own hands.” Kaitlin Moore obviously practices what she preaches, and we’re sure it’ll be exciting to watch her continue to do so for a long time in the future.

Batman Unburied is currently streaming wherever you listen to podcasts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.