Katie McGrath was among the new stars who joined Supergirl for the show’s second season. The actress, who appeared in Jurassic World last year, stars as Lena Luthor, Lex Luthor’s adoptive sister. Although Lex has had a sister in the past in the comics, McGrath’s character is different. She’s ambitious and hopes to change the face of Lexcorp while her brother is in jail.
After several episodes off, McGrath finally returns on Supergirl in “Luthors” on February 13. In the episode, she’s blamed for her mother’s escape from prison.
The 33-year-old McGrath has been in television for almost a decade. Here’s a look at her career, as well as the character she plays on Supergirl.
1. Lena Luthor Is a Very Different Character in the Comics, Who Requires a Wheelchair
Lena Luthor is a character who underwent a complete change when she made the transition to Supergirl. In the comics, Lena grew up with Lex in Smallville and was left to take care of herself after Lex left Smallville behind. Their parents both died and Lena is a paraplegic. She also had a daughter named Lori.
The Silver Age version of Lena and her family changed their last name to Thorul (“Luthor” spelled backwards) out of shame for Lex’s activities.
In Supergirl, Lena is a whole new character. Lex’s parents adopted Lena and she has taken it upon herself to change Lexcorp into a company for the greater good. At least, that’s what he’s told Kara (Melissa Benoist) and Clark Kent (Tyler Hoechlin).
“Survivors” saw Kara rush to Lena for help in the Roulette case. Now, Kara owes Lena one and it’s always dangerous to owe a Luthor.
2. McGrath Didn’t Think Becoming an Actress Was Something She Could Really Accomplish
McGrath was born in Ashford, Ireland and studied history at Trinity College in Dublin. In an interview with The Gloss Magazine, she said she thought about becoming an actor, but wasn’t serious about it. Instead, she thought about going into fashion journalism.
“It was one of those things you always want to do when you’re little,” she said of acting. “It’s like running away to join the circus. Everyone wants to do it, then you grow up and think, ‘okay, now I’ve got to get a proper job’. But somebody has to run away and join the circus, or how would we have tightrope walkers and trapeze artists?”
Fashion journalism turned out to be her entry into acting. She found a job in the costuming department for The Tudors, which ran from 2007 to 2010. In 2008, she appeared in an episode of the series. She also appeared in Damage (2007), Eden (2008) and an episode of The Roaring Twenties (2008).
3. McGrath Did the ALS Bucket Challenge With Friend Natalie Dormer
In 2014, during the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge craze, McGrath participated in a video with Natalie Dormer, who starred on The Tudors and is a close friend of McGrath.
At that time, McGrath had just come off starring in Merlin as Morgana Pendragon, the role that garnered her international attention.
McGrath told Digital Spy that her own career paralleled Morgana’s journey in Merlin.
“Yeah, it did. I mean, I owe everything to this job – it has made my life, it has made me the actor that I am today. Any chances I have after this are directly because I had five years on such a great show,” she said.
4. McGrath Had a Horribly Cruel Death in ‘Jurassic World’ as Zara
McGrath must have hoped that a role in Jurassic World would have presented her to an even wider audience. Unfortunately, the role she got wasn’t big. She played Zara, the British assistant to Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), who was assigned to babysit her nephews. This was only a small role, because it isn’t too long before she loses the kids. But when she died, she was given the death of a major villain, one that was dragged out and raised some eyebrows.
As you can see in the video compilation of all the deaths in the Jurassic Park movies, Kara’s death was a complete sequence in the film, starting with her being picked up by a pterodactyl. As if that wasn’t enough, the pterodactyl fights with another one, then she is dropped in the pool. A pterodactyl picks her up, but then the giant mosasaurus pops up to eat both of them.
In an interview with Empire Magazine, director Colin Treverrow said that McGrath had no problem with the dragged-out death because she is Irish.
“I love this moment so much,” Treverrow said of the scene. “We’re playing on the audience’s expectation and jadedness. You drop her in the water and immediately everyone goes, ‘Oooh, I know what’s going to happen.’ But you don’t. Then the ‘birds’ start coming in and you get distracted by that and suddenly [it] happens.”
5. McGrath Stars Alongside Charlie Hunnam in Guy Ritchie’s ‘King Arthur’
McGrath gets another shot at starring in a blockbuster, as she plays Elsa in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. The film also stars Charlie Hunnam in the title role, along with Jude Law, Annabelle Wallis and Eric Bana. It’s directed by Guy Ritchie (The Man from UNCLE, Sherlock Holmes). The film will hit theaters on March 24, 2017.
In 2015, Ritchie told Entertainment Weekly that his King Arthur will present a fresh take on the character.
“I think where the pitfall has often been is trying to make King Arthur bland and nice, and nice and bland,” Ritchie told EW. “The two qualities make rather compatible bed companions. Unfortunately, they’re not interesting to watch. Luke Skywalker was always the most uninteresting character in Star Wars because he’s the good guy. Good guys are boring.”
McGrath’s other recent credits include Buttons, slasher, The Throwaways and Dracula, which co-starred The Tudors‘ Jonathan Rhys Meyers.