Doom Patrol, based on the DC comic book series of the same name, follows a quirky team of antiheroes who were cursed with bizarre powers under the most tragic of circumstances. The group consists of Larry/Negative Man, Cliff/Robotman, Crazy Jane, Rita/Elasti-Girl, Victor/Cyborg, and Niles/Chief. But, even Jane stands out as a bit of an outsider among this band of misfits.
The troubled young woman harbors 64 distinct personalities and each one possesses a unique ability — "Hammerhead" has superhuman strength; "Lucy Fugue" sports electrokinesis; "Karen" can make people love her; and on and on. These personalities dwell within Jane’s mind in a mental fortress called the Underground. And in Season 2, some of those personalities are fighting to take over as the dominant presence... and succeeding.
With the sophomore season almost halfway through on HBO Max, SYFY WIRE spoke with actress Diane Guerrero about Jane’s headspace, her crisis of personalities, the connection between Cliff and Jane, and their strange encounter with Dr. Tyme.
Let’s catch up for a second. Season 1 ended with the Doom Patrol shrunken down. How is Jane assimilating to her new miniature size?
Jane experienced a difficult time in the first season because she found out about the betrayal of the Chief. For a person who has experienced trauma, to actually find out that betrayal can be very debilitating. You saw that in her lack of love, and her quest for love, she turns to sedating herself so that she can keep all the other personalities at bay while she takes a moment to check out.
When they are small, she is still going through what these emotions actually mean. She’s just buying time until she can make a decision on what should happen. She’s angry at the Chief for making her who she is. But she also understands there is family and safety within the Doom Patrol.
More than any other member, Jane’s conflict is actually internal. She harbors 64 personalities. How would you describe her headspace these days?
Jane is really trying to figure out how she can still be part of this world with the Doom Patrol and have the other personalities understand and work with her while she tries to make a life there. What really gets everyone riled up inside her is seeing the kind of betrayal Niles did, but not understanding why she refuses to leave. I think Jane is being practical by wanting to stay, but she wants to remain as primary. You are going to see a lot of that conflict with the other personalities, thinking and trying to be the primary. You will soon find out it’s not as easy as some of them may think.
There’s a mystery that develops early on. Jane receives a cryptic message: "Time for a change." Can we tease what that could mean?
The main point of all of that is the other personalities are looking at Jane as unfit, as unable to make the best decisions for Kay Challis, which is their little girl personality. Based on everything that Jane has gone through and some of the things that she’s allowed, the other personalities think that she might not be the appropriate primary for Kay. You are going to see a lot of her inner struggle. That will, of course, bubble up to the surface once she can’t keep them at bay anymore.
Viewers are introduced to some of Jane’s many personalities. What have been some of your favorites that they’ve come up with?
I love Baby Doll. She’s one of my favorite characters. She’s free and playful, and something many of us lose once we are forced to be adults and have to deal with challenging emotions. I like the freedom I feel when I play Baby Doll. I also like playing Hammerhead because all of these angry emotions that she has to put aside. You will see that conflict of Jane putting them aside so that she could work with the Doom Patrol, if she wants to save the little girl.
As an actress, how challenging is it to come up with different voices and mannerisms for the personalities? What is your process?
I like to remind himself that all of these characters stem from one person. Even though you are trying to make each one different from each other, they are all rooted in one major experience, which is Kay Challis’ trauma. I try to remember that when I am playing each one... what their real purpose is. Obviously, each one takes an emotion a little farther than the next, according to what their belief system is and according to when they were forced to surface. I try to make sure that I am paying attention to when they originated, to what the specific situation is and then who they are trying to protect.
Janes seems to have bonded with Cliff. Why is there such a strong connection between those two?
I think Cliff is no bulls*** and that’s kind of what Jane is. She also feels some safety with him being a robot. Jane has been tricked and abused by humans, so Cliff offers a very comforting sense of humanity, but in a robot form. That robot can’t technically hurt her as much as any human man has.
The Doom Patrol constantly find themselves in bizarre circumstances. What is fun about their upcoming run-in with Dr. Tyme?
I loved the roller-skating rink. It’s so colorful and bright and so imaginative. There’s the bizarre story that has taken place thousands and thousands of years ago, that has now come up in modern-day times. I love the teleportation of it all, being able to be in one world and then another in a matter of minutes.
Dr. Tyme is amazing and funky. The reason we need him isn’t very clear. After that mission, we see that we still can’t trust Niles. That’s very upsetting since we all decided to engage in this task.
Freshman seasons establish the universe and characters. What else are you excited to explore with Jane this season?
I’m excited to see her go deep and unpack some of the trauma she’s dealt with, and really stand up for herself. In the first season, we see Jane as someone who is very despondent and is apathetic. Then, we really start to see she’s been numbing herself figuratively. And, then you see her numbing herself with some substance abuse. She’s been doing that to avoid the real work. It forces herself to grow up, along with the other cast members.
What does Jane make of Niles’ Dorothy, who they found in the season finale, especially as she begins to emerge as this year’s big bad?
There’s a duality. There is a need to protect her because Jane sees herself in Dorothy. Jane is opposed to any child abuse. So, there’s a need to protect her, but there’s also a jealousy there because of Jane’s desire to be loved by Niles. There’s a push and pull there. Again, as they discover every characters’ intentions, it gets a little convoluted.