In the new DC Universe/The CW hit Stargirl, Trae Romano plays Mike Dugan, kid stepbrother to his superhero stepsister Courtney Whitmore. Romano has had quite a year, from landing his first series regular role in Stargirl to playing a young version of Beau Bridges in Robbie for Comedy Central. We had the chance to talk to Romano about his role as Mike as well as what the experience of joining Stargirl has been like for him!
Nerds and Beyond: How familiar were you with the Stargirl comics before taking the role of Mike Dugan?
Trae Romano: I wasn’t familiar at all with the role. I only became aware of him when I got the audition. When I read the script, I was instantly connected with him. He and I are very much alike.
Nerds and Beyond: Was there something about the character or world of the show that drew you in initially?
Trae Romano: Everything drew me to the show and to the character. Mike and I are really the same person in many ways. I was especially drawn to the creator [Geoff Johns] and why he wanted to immortalize his sister who died tragically in a plane crash. Having a show dedicated to her memory is very special and every time you are on set, you feel that.
Nerds and Beyond: Mike is a character who was developed for the show. Does that give you more freedom to experiment with the character, since unlike Courtney or Pat the audience has fewer preconceived ideas of what Mike is like?
Trae Romano: Well, actually Mike was in the comic books but later on. He was away at school. But yes, I think that Mike is a free spirit and that gives me some creative liberty. Also, Geoff has always given me flexibility and actually said that he doesn’t have to “write” much for me because Mike and I are so much alike. I’m glad that Mike is getting an opportunity to be part of the story in the series. He and Pat have a great relationship and it’s fun to be part of a blended family.
Nerds and Beyond: Without giving too much away, can you give us a taste of what’s coming up for Mike as the series unfolds?
Trae Romano: That’s a tricky question. I can’t say too much, but I can say that he and Courtney start to understand each other and respect each other. Being a part of a blended family can be difficult, especially when your stepsister is a superhero and everyone knows but me!!
Nerds and Beyond: Any moments you’re looking forward to audiences getting to see?
Trae Romano: The entire season is full of surprises! Mike gets to do a few fun things that you’ll have to tune in to see. Let me just say, the JSA will see him in a different light.
Nerds and Beyond: One thing I was struck by while watching the pilot was how cinematic it was, from the opening action sequence between the JSA and the Injustice Society to the way it was shot. It felt very distinct from the other DC Comics television series like The Flash or Supergirl, for example. Did it feel that way to you while filming, and what was your experience like watching the completed episodes for the first time?
Trae Romano: I was blown away from the beginning! The first day I stepped on set was overwhelming — the magnitude of the sets and names attached to the project is just remarkable! I like how it’s filmed, and the color grading and editing makes it feel like a movie every episode. I’d meet up with Geoff in LA periodically and he’d show me parts of episodes as they were finalized. I have never seen anything like it. The special effects are incredible.
Nerds and Beyond: On Conan recently, your co-star Luke Wilson mentioned that you and Brec Bassinger had teased him a little about the way he often mistakes pauses in dialogue for his cue to say his next line. It sounds like you all have a good time working together – any funny on-set memories to share?
Trae Romano: Yes, plenty. One of the funniest times on set was when Luke and I were doing a serious scene. We were in a small warehouse that was used to shoot the garage scenes and it was very hot, and there was a fly, flying around us. I was thinking, “hey, it’s just a fly, no big deal,” but Luke kept trying to say this one line and he couldn’t get it out because this fly kept landing on his face. So at one point he just lashed out at the fly. He yelled at the top of his lungs at the fly and was swinging at it with this rag that he found. I’m sure it was the combination of it being really hot and being irritated that the fly kept landing on his face. But I was just standing there thinking, “Dude, it’s just a fly!” I tried to keep a straight face, but it wasn’t easy. Needless to say, despite all of that, it was a great scene!
Nerds and Beyond: You’ve had the opportunity to work with some high-profile actors in your career so far, from Luke Wilson on this project to Beau Bridges on Robbie. Has watching them work on set changed the way you approach your own work?
Trae Romano: Absolutely! Just watching them both is surreal. To realize that you are sharing the same scene with them is crazy! And at the same time very normal. Both Luke and Beau are very down to earth and unassuming. They are so good at what they do that you can’t help but just stand there and admire the ease in which they work. I’ve learned it’s better to be overly prepared than not. Working with them makes you want to be better at what you do. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to listen. Like REALLY listen.
Nerds and Beyond: Because we are a nerdy news site, we like to ask a few rapid-fire nerdy questions as well! If you had a lightsaber, what color would it be and why?
Trae Romano: PURPLE all the way! Mace Windu can harness both sides of the force. Blue and red equals purple. You can use the dark side to manipulate your enemies and vice versa.
Nerds and Beyond: In the battle between Batman and Superman, whose team are you on?
Trae Romano: Batman for sure.
Nerds and Beyond: If you could have one superpower, what would you choose and why?
Trae Romano: I’d like to be invisible so I could annoy my sisters. I could scare them constantly and pull pranks on them. I could also jump the lines at Universal and Disney and no one would see me! I’m not advocating that but hey, if you have a superpower like being invisible, you might as well take full advantage!!
Nerds and Beyond: You can assemble your own superhero team, but with only three members. What three heroes are you choosing, and why?
Trae Romano: Shazam first, for sure. Definitely need a little comedic relief. Deadpool because he literally can’t die, and he’s hysterical. Then Iron Man because Tony Stark is just a savage.
Be sure to watch Romano on Stargirl, which airs Mondays on DC Universe and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. For more of our coverage of the show, click here!