VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Trae Romano Reveals Why He Loved Working With Luke Wilson On ‘Stargirl’
Trae Romano, who plays Mike Dugan in Stargirl, revealed that the second season of the series won’t have many guest stars due to the pandemic. He considers this to be beneficial for the series because the directors gave each character a storyline and showed the audience a new perspective of the main cast.
“The second season has definitely taken on a lot of darker tone,” he said. “I feel there’s a lot of inner conflict between the characters. This season during COVID, since we couldn’t have as many guest stars and things of that nature, they really explored the main principal cast storylines very well, a lot more than they did the first season … All of season one we were just laying this out. Now we can really explore each character to its fullest extent. Every character has their own episode this season, which I think is really exciting. Mike has his own character, Rick has his own character, my character … all these different characters have their own episode this season and you can really … feel more for the characters this season because [there are] a lot more human problems that are happening and the villains are so well-written and so well-thought-out that it’s a tangible fear, it’s a tangible evil. It’s like, ‘Oh, this could actually happen and this is scary.’ Overall, this season is just a really grounded, really well put together and character-driven season.”
Romano explained that his character is dealing with guilt after he killed Icicle (Jordan Mahkent), played by Neil Jackson. He also reveals that Mike’s father, Pat Dugan, played by Luke Wilson, allows Mike to be more independent and make his own decisions. He explained that Stargirl (Courtney Elizabeth Whitmore), played by Brec Bassinger understands what Mike is going through
“As we left Mike, he did kill [Jordan Mahkent] Icicle, as we know and he’s kind of dealing with some guilt. He definitely is kind of coping with ‘I did kill someone, I did kill a man,’ and I think that Mike and Pat’s relationship … Pat [is] almost telling him at this point, ‘Hey, I’ve done everything I can for you, now you’re on your own. All of these decisions that you’re making now are completely to your own devices.’ And with Courtney and Mike, it’s different because I think Courtney realizes that Mike is in this transition that she was and she’s really trying to help him out and get into the jet. I think you see a stronger bond between Courtney and Mike and you kind of … get that very distant, but very loving relationship.”
Romano believes his character has to prove himself to be trustworthy in order to officially become a part of the Justice Society of America (JSA).
“I think he needs to prove himself a little bit more, definitely. It kind of seems from this point that everything Mike touches turns to dust, so I think he still kind of has to prove himself that he’s not going to let the JSA down. Throughout the season, especially in episode three – which is kind of Mike’s episode – you get to see a lot of that,” he said. “You can see how trustworthy he is, or how not trustworthy he is, how reliable he is, or how not reliable he is, and it kind of sets Mike on his own path.”
The actor also referred to the scenes he shot with Alkoya Brunson, who plays Jakeem Thunder in the series, as “great.”
“Eventually, with the character, Jakeem by [Alkoya Brunson] played, [there are] some great scenes and little bits with Alkoya and I. It’s this relationship that [you have] not seen from Mike yet because it’s this mentality that Mike is almost mentoring Jakeem and you know how Cat [Wildcat, Yolanda Montez] always got pissed off at Mike, it’s more the other way around now. Mike’s getting pissed off at Jakeem because he’s just doing stupid stuff, so you can kind of get to see a different side of Mike, I think. The question is, if you know he’s going to get into the JSA because of killing Icicle, I don’t think it’s enough, personally. I don’t think that he proves himself enough. He came in clutch. What if it was an accident? What if he didn’t mean to do it? All these questions are kind of answered and [there are] a lot of great scenes with Yolanda and Rick about these things because they all are kind of dealing with their own guilt and you can kind of see this different relationship between Mike and the JSA because he’s confiding in them. It’s this thing where he’s like, ‘Well, what if I didn’t really mean to kill that guy, I feel bad about it.’ He knows that Yolanda deals with the same guilt and it’s an interesting little storyline that they have, though.”
The Stargirl actor described the cast members as “family,” “genuine” and “nice.”
“If you ask anyone on the cast, the first thing they’ll tell you is that we’re insanely lucky to have the cast and the people that we do because it almost feels like it’s too good to be true … there’s no way that these people are this genuinely nice and looking out for people. I was just talking to Cameron Gellman last night, we went out to dinner and we were talking about the same thing. We were just like, ‘These people genuinely care, we care about each other, we’re a family.’ They’re all such individual, unique people that it’s like his collage of all these amazing personalities, these amazing ideas that people bring to set and onto the show.”
Romano revealed that he initially did not spend as much time with the main cast because he was younger; the actor spent a lot of time with Wilson and the two developed a father-son relationship.
“Luke and I are super close, we’ve been really close for a while. The reason that Luke and I really hit it off initially was because I was younger and I wasn’t hanging out with the main cast and he was older and we were kind of these two polar opposites of the main group. The main JSA is like here, and he’s older and I’m younger and we were playing this kind of father-son kind of relationship and that’s when we kind of really hit it off. His advice has been very fatherly, I guess you could say. I’ve gotten a lot of great advice from him just in life and how to navigate the industry, and how to navigate relationships in the industry, and should you go out with actresses or should you not go out with actresses. Like it’s all these different things that … general population doesn’t think about. He’s also given me a ton of great insight and information about our work and our craft as well. He never hesitates to tell me, ‘Hey that was amazing,’ or ‘Hey, I would change this …’ The thing about Luke is that he gives you so many great notes in the moment, and it doesn’t feel like it’s condescending. I’ve done scenes with people my whole life and when they give me notes I’m like, ‘I’m not feeling that,’ but Luke is such a genuine and nice person that every single thing he says, I will 100 percent take into consideration because I trust him so much and we have that much of a bond and it really adds a lot to our work and I feel comfortable with going up to him with an idea. I don’t know where I would honestly be without him.”
Romano said Bassinger is a person who doesn’t get consumed by her acting career. According to Romano, she focuses on her work but also sets time aside to focus on her family and relationships.
“Brec is like one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. That’s just the bottom line. I think that she has such a great head in her shoulders so early on. She’s focused on her family, she’s focused on her relationship, she’s focused on all these things. It’s not like she’s going out partying. None of the JSA’s. None of them are going out, going nuts, going crazy, partying every night. They’re really all committed and focused to their work, especially Brec. Brec is really focused on her life just as a human. It’s not been taken over by acting, by the industry, which tends to happen with a lot of people. She’s just such a generous, giving person, as well as an actress. I just love it, she’s the best. She really has this kind of private, innocent way about her, if that makes any sense. It’s refreshing.”