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Gotham Knights Star Olivia Rose Keegan on How She Fell In Love With the Joker's Daughter

Keegan shares how she emulated a famous Joker and teases what's to come

Lauren Piester

[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Tuesday Gotham Knights. Read at your own risk!]

Gotham Knights hasn't yet introduced its Joker, but the Joker's daughter has made a big splash. Olivia Rose Keegan plays Duela, the wild, unpredictable teen delinquent who trusts no one, and with good reason. There's no way the daughter of a serial killer had a functional childhood, so she's learned to live on her own and rely only on herself on the mean streets of Gotham. In this week's episode, she was ready to abandon new frenemy Turner (Oscar Morgan) during a heist and go on the run, but then found herself in hot water when a deal went south. Unfortunately, Duela needed help from her new crew, whether she wanted to admit it or not, and she certainly needs help in the continued quest to clear her name. Sure, she committed a robbery, but she didn't kill Batman! 

Keegan, who played a very different sort of villain on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, is simply obsessed with Duela. Like the men who have famously played the Joker, she dabbled in some immersive method acting to prepare, even without knowing for sure what the Gotham Knights Joker is like. "My personal favorite was probably Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight," she tells TV Guide. "So there was a lot of playing compilations of him and locking myself in a pitch-black closet and getting really weird and dark and kooky with myself. I mean, the Joker represents chaos, and there's a lot of freedom in that. So selfishly for me, I had so much fun playing Duela because I found it so freeing. She's so impulsive, for better or for worse." 

Duela's exact family history is murky. Keegan says the Joker abandoned his kid maybe even before she was born, so it's not like she would have childhood memories of playing catch with him, and so far, we know nothing about her mother. She says we'll have to wait and see how the show unpacks that background, but we can learn a lot about the character from her relationships with the other vigilantes and the way they "trauma bond," especially as her walls begin to come down over the course of the season. Below, Keegan dives deep into who Duela is and teases what's to come as the mystery of Batman's murder unfolds. 

Olivia Rose Keegan, Gotham Knights

Olivia Rose Keegan, Gotham Knights

The CW

How does Duela feel about her situation? 
Olivia Rose Keegan: There's so much humanity to unpack with her. She has not only an absent father but a serial killer father, so there's endless amounts of psyche to unpack with that, and we don't really know what the situation with her mother is, but we know it's not some picket fence, picture perfect situation. And Duela is constantly torn between idolizing her father for the chaos he shook into the very screwed up Gotham City system, and then also hating his guts for abandoning her. So you have all that going on and affecting her psyche, but she refuses to be a victim of her circumstances, which I love. She's such a fighter. 

Given that this is a CW show, is there a chance for romance? I've sensed some vibes…
Keegan: I'd say keep watching. There's bound to be something happening with this much trauma bonding in close quarters. There's bound to be something. 

Is that something she can open herself up to? She's not quick to trust. 
Keegan: Not quick to trust but maybe quick to lust! I can't believe I just said that. That was crazy, but I will stand by that and say that's true. 

After this week's episode, when she was threatening to run and then got herself in trouble, what does it mean for her trusting these people going forward? 
Keegan: I don't even know if by the end she trusts these people. She has been forced from a very young age to turn off all these so-called soft mechanisms inside of her because she's learned the only way to survive is to take care of yourself and worry about yourself. And from a young age, I think she learned okay, this hurts way too much to have nothing in life and be abandoned by your parents. It's been a lot. So I think it's going to take a lot more than one episode to develop trust and stop glitching every time somebody proves to be different. 

We obviously know Joker and Batman didn't get along, so is Duela taking that into her relationship with Turner? 
Keegan: She's definitely taking that into her relationship with Turner. Turner represents everything wrong with the Gotham City system, so she looks at him and just sees undeserving spoiled brat privilege. He's Batman's son, so there's a lot there. 

So what does he have to do to convince her that's not who he is? Or is he just that? 
Keegan: Exactly. Again, through this series you'll get a lot of really interesting trauma-bonding situations that help break down those walls because there's no other choice. 

Gotham Knights Bosses Tease Who Is Actually Behind Bruce Wayne's Murder

Talk to me about figuring out Duela as a character on her own, beyond being the Joker's daughter. Who does she want to be? 
Keegan: She's torn between living up to this reputation that everyone else has already assigned her, and discovering her own identity. I think right now, she's sort of taken this vicious reputation that everyone's already assigned to her in this predetermined way and used it to her advantage because that was the best she could do to make an impact in this very screwed up system that she didn't have a lot of power in. But I'm really excited for people to see the story arc through the season. I just got so attached to her and fell in love with her so much. I really, really miss her, and I'll find myself daydreaming in her world—hopefully not in too much of a violent, psychotic way. I'm really excited for everyone to see through Season 1 how everything changes, and we'll get to see a lot more of why she is the way she is. 

Can she be a hero? 
Keegan: Good question. I think you'll maybe get to see that throughout the series. She's not going to jump at the opportunity to save a city that's screwed her over since she was born. She'll be the last person to jump on that bandwagon. 

That's my next question. Does she even want to be a hero? 
Keegan: No. God, no. This city has treated her like s–t. It's gonna take a while. 

That's always been the thing about Gotham stories. Why do you care so much about this terrible city? 
Keegan: Dude, it's pretty unsavable, especially with the Court of Owls. I think that's such an interesting journey and it's so symbolic in so many ways. It's just this group of Gotham's elite who have held power forgotten for centuries, very top of the food chain and untouchably so. It's going to be an extremely uphill battle. 

Gotham Knights airs Tuesdays on The CW at 9/8c.