In the next episode of The CW series Stargirl, entitled “Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite,” Courtney (Brec Bassinger) continues to recruit more members to the new Justice Society of America that she’s determined to assemble, but the individuals that she sights her sights on aren’t all as enthusiastic as she is about the prospect of becoming a superhero. At the same time, Pat (Luke Wilson) is trying to piece together clues to learn which Injustice Society members are hiding out, right in Blue Valley.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Cameron Gellman, who plays Courtney’s high school classmate Rick Tyler, talked about why being a part of Stargirl is a childhood dream come true for him, playing a character that has to face his past in order to discover his future, why Rick is so afraid to be part of a team, getting to work with stunts and visual effects, which relationship dynamics he most enjoyed exploring this season, and the fun of getting to see a new team come together and make mistakes, as they learn along the way.
Collider: How cool is it to be a part of a show like this? It’s a superhero show, you get to wear a supersuit, you’re a part of the Arrow-verse, and you’re in the bigger DC-TV universe. What does it feel like to be a part of all of that?
CAMERON GELLMAN: It’s a childhood dream come true. I was such a superhero nerd, as a kid. It’s a career high. Every aspect of it has been surreal and just the biggest honor. And I’m working with a bunch of really talented, hardworking, passionate people that really believe in this show and showed up every day to make it great, and not just to do their jobs. And then, having Geoff Johns at the center of it, I didn’t know enough about comics, coming into this, but all of a sudden, I got an education in understanding what an icon and trailblazer he’s been, in the comics world. Knowing that he’s helming this project, from day one, kept us focused and made me feel like I had a huge responsibility. And then, I learned that the whole show was built around honoring this beautiful spirit that passed away, in Geoff’s sister, and even though this show was always fun to film, I don’t think I, or anyone that we worked with, ever lost sight of the fact that we were there for her and for him. And then, there’s the process of having someone scan your body and mold your head, your feet and your hands, and build you a supersuit. That completely fixes your posture. There were definitely moments, stepping on set in that suit for the first time, or being with the team for the first time, that I will always remember. Being a part of this universe is an honor. Being a part of The CW family is something that I’ve wanted since the moment I started auditioning out in Los Angeles. The superhero thing is a really specific thing and it means a lot to me.
This episode is really the origin story for your character and his evolution into a team member, and in order for him to move forward in that, he really has to face his past. Is that going to continue to be something that he has to deal with?
GELLMAN: Oh, for sure. It’s definitely one of his struggles. He hasn’t been a part of something meaningful, in a really long time, and he misses it, but also probably doesn’t trust the idea of being a part of a team because he’d been on his own for a really long time. His uncle lets him down constantly. His town lets him down constantly. He’s got old friends that stopped showing up for him. As he’s gotten older and more troubled, everybody’s left him, and now this group of people is saying, “Hey, be a part of us. We want you.” I think it’s as scary for him to say no, as it is to say yes, ‘cause he doesn’t know how to be a team player and doesn’t know how to let people see him that way, and yet it’s the thing that he most wants. So, we will definitely see him have a hard time with his emotions because he wants to move forward, but he’s stuck. He’s stuck on his parents, he’s stuck in his pain, and he’s stuck in wanting to go avenge that pain. There’s what he knows is right, and then there’s what his emotions tell him to do, and he’s fighting himself on that, all the time.
You can’t be a part of a superhero team without stunts and visual effects. What was it like to work with all of that?
GELLMAN: I got into acting to use my imagination and for the creativity of it all, so this is a dream job, in that sense. I think it’s incredible, being in the green room and having an interaction where you’re climbing a pole that’s actually S.T.R.I.P.E., or being rigged up to wires to throw a car. We have such an amazing cast and crew, and I love getting to work that intimately with every department. Our stunt team, which was headed by Walter Garcia and Joanna Bennett, my stunt double, Ben Aycrigg, and all of these other amazing people were just so intelligent and so eager to make this show incredible. Their stunts were insane and out of this world good, but then they did a really good job of teaching us and including us in the process, and really making sure that we felt armed with the ability to pull some of the stuff off and really learn combinations. So, I loved working with them. Every day was an adventure. One day, you’d fight two supervillains, and the next day, you’re jumping off of a building. Each day came with its challenges, whether that was learning how to safely jump off of something high and land on a mat, or learning how to punch someone and not actually hit them, but really swing out. I loved that collaboration, and I loved watching it, even when I wasn’t a part of it, because it was just the coolest thing you’ve ever seen, honestly.
There’s such a great balance between the superhero side and the human side. What character and relationship dynamics did you most enjoy getting to explore, this season?
GELLMAN: Rick’s worldview is so different from mine. At first, it was really fascinating just to see what all of the relationships felt like, with the other JSA members. Obviously, the show starts when we’re in the middle of high school, so assuming that all of these people have grown up together, it was really fun to talk with my castmates and build histories, and talk with Geoff about those histories and compare them to the comics. The most immediate one that was fun to explore was with Courtney (Brec Bassinger). The push-pull of, “Who is this person that is completely invading my personal space and giving me all of this information about my identity that I didn’t ask for and can’t handle. But then, she’s also investing in me and she cares about me. She showed up to Blue Valley recently, so she doesn’t have all of these preconceived notions about me.” I love starting to play, throughout the whole season, with the Pat-Rick relationship. And I love working with Uncle Matt (Adam Aalderks), and building that with him. He plays such a mean ugly-spirited guy, and we had the greatest time, messing with each other on set. All of that stuff was really cool. Watching everybody find the vibe that would help them get into character was pretty cool, and I got to explore that a lot, myself.
Because this team is young, are we going to continue to see them make mistakes, as they figure things out?
GELLMAN: For sure, yeah. We had a blast making the show. It’s only gonna get crazier, really, really fast. It’s gonna be fun to watch the JSA try to operate as a team and scope out all of the pitfalls that come with that. They’re not aware of what they’re doing yet, they’re not properly trained to be fighting the people that they’re trying to fight, who have a generation more of experience, and they also have completely incompatible personalities. Just in a basic team sense, are these people gonna communicate and not get each other killed? Are they all gonna be team players, when it comes down to it? Is Rick gonna do what’s better for the team, or do what’s best for himself, when he has the opportunity to get that revenge, or complete the bigger mission? He’s such a liability right now, and so is everybody else. It’s watching a group of kids get into very adult business.
Stargirl airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.