Trae Romano‘s Mike Dugan character has been a fixture on DC’s Stargirl from the very first episode, originally portrayed as the wisecracking younger brother to Brec Bassinger’s Courtney. As the show has progressed, we have seen that Mike has pulled off some heroics himself, and in a new episode “Summer School, Chapter Three” airing at 8PM tonight (August 24) on The CW, we see what Mike will do when he gets a hold of Johnny Thunder’s “Thunderbolt.”
KSiteTV’s Craig Byrne recently spoke with Trae Romano about tonight’s episode as well as the actor’s plans for the future. Enjoy!
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: Mike has been a big help to the team, especially in last season’s finale, but does he feel left out that he’s not a superhero himself?
TRAE ROMANO: Yeah. I think that’s a big thing that Mike has always struggled with and dealt with; just not being a part of the team. It doesn’t stretch as far as him wanting to explicitly be a superhero. I think that he kind of just wants to be involved in some level with the JSA, where it’s to the point where he’s not left out.
When [“Summer School, Chapter Three”] rolls around, you kind of see him have the opportunity to be a superhero, but then he also kind of quickly realizes that he might not be capable of that yet. It’s kind of like this double edged sword, because I think he does really want to be a superhero, but I just don’t think that he has the capabilities to [yet].
With there being so many bullies in town, do you think he also wishes he had a lot more friends there in Blue Valley?
I think one of the big things is that he really only has his family and the JSA. For some reason, he is a victim of bullying, which is, kind of ironic, because you always see Mike at home being a smartass, and you would always probably expect him to be picking on someone, but then we see him outside of the house, and he’s really the one getting picked on.
I think that Mike would probably like to have more friends. I’m not sure what his social standing is in school, but as the season progresses, we do see the addition of Jakeem, and they actually talk about that quite a lot.
In Episode 203, how many stop signs actually fell out of the sky, and how many were digitally created?
That’s a good question. They all digitally fell from the sky, but then there was there was a set amount that were in the ground for a few takes, just to have practical effects in the scene. When the Prius gets impaled by a stop sign, that was 100% real. We did that on the day. That was really fun, and all of our reactions were honestly genuine. But yeah, they tried to do as much practical effects as they possibly can., and honestly, it ended up looking really good. Tat was probably 50% of that was practical effects, and everything else they filled in the CG.
What is the biggest challenge in acting opposite visual effects?
I thought I was going to be more challenged by it than I actually was, to be honest with you.
I could not have gotten through episode 203 without Lea [Thompson], because she’s, like, the most physical and amazing director to work with on something like that. The first thing that she always does, she has a little clipboard and we’d talk every day before shooting, so we had a game plan of exactly what we wanted to do and accomplish.
This episode was equally as important to her as it was to me, because, you’re really introducing Mike’s real character for the first time, and we really wanted it to be special. It was choreographed very well, but without looking too choreographed, if that makes any sense. I actually had a good time with it.
Was it beneficial to have a director like Lea, who’s an actress herself who has worked with big visual effects?
Yes, definitely. I could not have done that episode without Lea. The first thing that she did when I first got the script, which is like two or three weeks out, she was like, “hey, call me whenever.” We called a few times, we had a few Zoom calls, and we met a few times. We went over every scene… every line, just to get it as perfect as we could. That was the best because she really understood exactly what I wanted to accomplish, and I understood exactly what sheu wanted to accomplish.
We took a lot of time out just to explore Mike’s character, which, you know, no one else would probably do, and on the day, [she would ask “where do you want to be sitting for the scene? What feels most natural?” Stuff like that,. Lea really made that episode pop and made it special. Same with Episode Four as well. Both of those episodes are just absolute gems, because of how talented Lea is.
Is there a member of the JSA that you think Mike would get along with the best?
Definitely Rick. Cameron Gellman and I, offscreen, have this brother-like relationship in general. I think that would carry over so well on screen. We’ve actually talked about this. We try to sneak in a few little like things in our scenes, like a fist bump or a little head nod between our characters, in the ensemble scenes that we have. It always ends up getting cut out, but it’s worth a shot. I think that Mike and Rick would probably be very good friends.
If you as yourself had a genie that could grant you wishes, what would you wish for?
I haven’t even really thought about this. But I probably wish to be able to get one of my films that I’m working on done relatively quickly, relatively soon. There’s clearly some superficial stuff that you always wish for. But I don’t know. That’s a good question. I’ll have to put some more thought into that.
We did an interview over email last year where you mentioned that you were writing a script. How is that going?
Well, I’m the overcomplicator-in-chief, and one script turns into like six scripts, so I am working on way too many things right now. But hey, it’s keeping me busy, and I’m loving it. I’ve been writing probably for as long as I’ve been acting, but I’ve lately really been taken writing as almost like another profession. I take it just as seriously, because eventually I want that to be my career as well.
Everything’s honestly going great. It’s really fun feeling yourself finally getting to the next stages and the next steps. When you’re writing a script, when you finish a script, and when you send it to people that you know, they read it, and they give you feedback. It’s just so refreshing.
In the next year, I want to make a film portfolio consisting of like two or three short films, proof of concepts, [and] things of that nature. My goal always was to get into NYU Tisch, and you have to have a portfolio for that. It’s really just driving me to get my projects done quicker, which is great. And I know a lot of great actors that I grew up with and have known over the years, that are really excited about my projects, which is insane, because they’re some of the best actors that I know. It’s a really special feeling, and I think that everything’s going in the right direction right now, which is terrific.
Would you consider doing Stargirl to have been also a form of schooling in film and production?
Yes, definitely. Stargirl has taught me an absurd amount, in every aspect of film, because when you’re comfortable enough to where you can go sit in Video Village and hang out, and to have someone who is really like a mentor, like Luke [Wilson] is… he shares all of his knowledge about cinema with me, and he shares all his knowledge about the industry. Honestly, he was one of the people that really inspired me to take it more seriously. He said to me “don’t wait for the phone to ring; sometimes just got to make a ring yourself.” He was 100% right.
Also, Geoff [Johns] was my age when he started writing Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.. There’s no real reason not to pursue what you want to pursue as early as you can. It’s really interesting being with all these people on set. It’s amazing to be directed by amazing directors and it’s amazing to be shot by amazing cinematographers, but it’s also the other things that you have to learn as a filmmaker. Sound, color grading, what a grip does and what this person does… honestly, I find myself a lot of times just talking on set with different crew, asking “what defines your job?” I ask questions all the time, to the color grading guys,the sound mixing guys, and everything, because I want to learn how to do everything. I’ve learned so much.
Are you excited to start filming Season 3?
Oh, yeah. I’m ecstatic. I can’t wait to see everyone again. We just get closer and closer every season. It’s gonna be fun to see Luke. And Cam, and Hunter, and all those people. Uou have this built in family for like, seven months, and it’s hysterical, because all you really do is hang out with those people. On the weekend, it’s not like hitting up my friends to hang out. I’, like, “nah, I’m going to go read sides with you know, with Cameron, or Hunter, or this person.” You’re in this little bubble surrounded by all these creative people that are like-minded, so it’s really fun just to be around everyone and consistently work.
Honestly, it gets the creative juices flowing for everything else in your life, too. I write more while I’m filming than I do any other time. I’m always writing on set, and stuff like that.
In your opinion, why should people be watching Stargirl?
You should be watching Stargirl because it’s a gem of a show. There are so many different dimensions to it. And there are so many different reasons that people are drawn to it. It’s not done a drama. It’s not a comedy. It’s not necessarily just a superhero show.
It’s something where you tune in every week and makes you forget about all your problems. And you can watch it with your family. It’s a special thing.
You can see a trailer for “Summer School, Chapter Three” below. Our thanks to Trae Romano for participating in this interview!