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EXCLUSIVE: ‘Stargirl’s’ Trae Romano opens up about his career and more

18 mins read

Actor Trae Romano is dedicated to his craft and shows his passion through his portrayal as Mike Dugan on “Stargirl.” Being only 16, Trae shows promise for a lengthy and successful career. 

“I grew up in a family that always watched movies,” Romano said. “And we’re very involved with artistically driven movies. And I grew up watching Wes Anderson’s movies, I grew up watching Sofia Coppola’s movies. And it really kind of always, was just around me, I guess just like that, that kind of creativeness. And wanting to just keep watching, actually, creatively fulfilling movies.” 

According to Romano, the more creators he started watching and following, and the more movies he had seen, the more involved he wanted to be. 

“I wanted to get involved in some aspect of the industry,” Romano stated. “But I guess the real first time that I was actually ever on a set and got involved that way was when my good family friend works with the Farrelly brothers and still does.” 

According to Trae, his friend was working on “Hall Pass” with Owen Wilson.

“That was the first time that I was really on set,” Romano stated. “After that, he did ‘The Three Stooges’ with Larry David, and a few of those guys, I’m not sure of the whole cast.” 

Trae said he was exposed to sets early on in his career. 

“I just had a love for movies, and all that together kind of, blended into me wanting to be in the industry,” he said. “When I first started, it wasn’t always like that. I started going out to LA, and pilot in an episodic season. It was a great time, I’ve made some friends for life.”

Trae is glad he got involved as early as he did. 

Trae Romano, Mike Dugan on “Stargirl.” Photo courtesy of DC Comics

“You look at a lot of these people that get involved early in their childhood and a lot of times it’s like the parents doing it, but while I was always advised against it, they were like, ‘don’t do this, this is probably not a great idea,’” Trae explained. “I still did it anyway, So yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s been a long ride, and Stargirl, my biggest thing today, and I’m just having a lot of fun, and I’m excited to start up again.”

When questioned behind the reasoning of how he got into acting and the sequence of events it took to be on “Stargirl,” his biggest project, Trae said “it’s been a long ride.” 

When asked about how the character of Mike Dugan related to other teenagers and how this season is taking a more approach in terms of storytelling. Trae said, “Season 2 is building the human side of Mike and it’s a lot of fun to expand on this character.”

“I was really excited to do that,” he explained. “I always say Mike’s character is almost like peeling back the layers of an onion. Every episode, you kind of get to know a little bit more about him because he’s a very private person, and very kept to himself.”

According to Trae, Geoff Johns, the creator of “Stargirl,” keeps constructing the human side of Mike.  

“He is kind of relatable to a lot of people,” Trae continued. “[Mike is] going into the teenage years figuring out his place in society and in life. And I think it’s dealt with really well, with also having that kind of whimsical superhero-ness about it. But yeah, yeah, thanks.”

Trae stated that he is a very private person and doesn’t actually reveal too much about himself. 

According to Romano, the character of Mike is very complex but realistic and in turn relatable to a lot of teenagers going through finding and their calling while residing in society at a tough point in life.

When asked about the direction, and various aspects of how vastly different season 1 felt from season 2. Trae said the vibe of the show has gotten darker.

According to Romano, the series does bear elements from the ’80s during season one, however, the series has taken a dark turn and will evolve into a mature-based narrative as the series progresses over time. 

“The vibe of the show, especially with the first season, was ‘Back to the Future,’” Trae admitted. “I love that kind of 80s, I don’t want to say comedy, but like, kind of like 80s comedy, movie vibe.”

According to Trae, the character Mike was supposed to be the stereotypical “80s brother.”

“That was kind of what the role was [when] proposed to me at first,” Trae said. “The cinematography and everything has changed so much between season one and season two, because as it gets darker, this shows cinematography and directing, and stuff like that, have also kind of gotten darker.”

When asked about how season 2 has improved in terms of cinematography, and story as well. Romano stated it’s a really fun project to work on because it’s ever-changing.

Romano said Stargirl wields a sense of clarity in terms of direction, however, the series isn’t afraid to take risks, and up the ante. 

“There’s always that character that always resonates with you,” Trae said. 

According to Romano, the character of Stargirl or Brec Bessinger is a great role model due to the fact the series is playful and honest.

When questioned who his favorite comic-book character was Trae said Deadpool is number one.

“‘Deadpool 2’ added this level of drama,” Trae stated. “Everything had more stakes, and it did initially.” 

According to Romano, the reason Deadpool works as a character is due, partly, to the humor and portrayal of Ryan Reynolds.

Brec Bassinger and Trae Romano in “Stargirl.” Photo courtesy of DC Comics

When questioned about the decision to have the character of Mike take a life and harbor PTSD. 

“Mike has real feelings and he’s dealing with the guilt of actually taking a life,” Trae stated. “Honestly, I would even make the argument that he’s a completely different character in season two, off-screen, Mike, as you know, changed quite a lot.”

Trae stated that the identity of sidekick characters such as Robin has not been explored as much, and the actions that mold their narrative. 

“It’s like, all these things that you’re thinking about, that’s like if you’re looking at like Batman and Robin, I’m sure that Robin, probably had a lot of guilt, doing the type of stuff that Batman and Robin were doing, but he’s a sidekick character, and he’s not explored as much.”

According to Romano, Pat Dugan who is co-star Luke Wilson’s character was essentially tight-cast as a sidekick at the beginning of season 2 Episode Three. Trae explained “he’s always left out, he’s even though he has always gone above” 

Romano said that the character of Mike is perceived as the sidekick. 

“I just think that it’s just more how they’re positioning Mike’s character to the audience, is making him more relatable and making him you make you feel for him more. And also, what makes you feel for him the most, in my opinion, is when he’s talking to Yolanda about stuff like that, because, you know, he realizes that she understands well. So, um, I just think it’s really well done.” 

According to Romano, throughout season two, it just gets more and more intense, you just delve, So everything shown has just been the tip of the iceberg” 

When questioned on how the series has a sense of weight in terms of human emotions such as guilt and the consequence of taking a life. 

“That’s the beauty of it is that and what other superhero series are you seeing two overwhelmingly innocent characters, to begin with,”  Romano stated. “Mike and Yolanda are very innocent people to regard.”

Romano praised Geoff Johns saying the strength of the series is being built from his creativity, and direction 

According to Trae, drama is a great driving force for any superhero show. 

“I think it’s a perfect way to go along with pushing all this new emotion and drama into a superhero shows honestly, because, Stargirl’s, definitely, like, was that kind of new wave of, seeing that with, with all these superhero shows and stuff like that, but I don’t see it being the last.” 

Trae stated that “Stargirl” is a different kind of experience from other established superhero dramas, and he felt the trend will continue into the future”

“Because you look at what people like Scorsese say, and not saying that necessarily agree with them, but you know, how he’s like, the MCU isn’t, those aren’t films, that’s not cinema to him. And it’s, well, I can see where you’re coming from definitely, like, I don’t personally agree.” 

Trae said that he respects the opinion of director Martin Scorsese in terms of his debate on superhero films being cinema. However, he feels the stories are so complex and utterly human, essentially meaning each experience can elevate to be portrayed in a realistic fashion. 

“You can see where someone like Scorsese is coming from.” Trae said. “And I think people are moving away from that, into that, hey, these are superhero films, but they could also display real issues and real problems and real emotion. So I’m honestly just thankful to be on a show. That’s one of those first kind of, you know, all around introspectively driven shows.”

When questioned if the character of Mike would resonate with the super sons Jonathan and Jordan Kent from Superman and Lois. 

“Mike’s story is one that’s always been told, and it’s always been overlooked, just because of the essence of Mike’s character,” Trae stated.

Romano expressed excitement in regards to the unpredictability of the series.

“All of the arcs of every character are so unpredictable, that it can go anywhere, that Mike’s character from season one is not going to be the same at the end of, you know, season two, or the beginning of season three,” he said. 

Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Cameron Gellman, Brev Bassinger and Trae Romano on “Stargirl.” Photo courtesy of DC Comics

In regards to the future of Mike, Trae said “I wouldn’t even really box him in necessarily to any of that, because he, he really does take on something that no one will be expecting.” 

According to Romano, “Stargirl” will be a wild ride these next few seasons. 

“Mike is just a very, very complicated character,” Trae said. “Maybe not to the naked eye, but as the seasons go along, he’s gonna be, he’s gonna change fundamentally.”

According to Romano, He is very close on set with his co-stars Luke Wilson, Cameron Gellman and Hunter Sansone. 

“When you’re working so consistently, you have long hours, and you’re doing all these things for six months, trapped with these people in this city, filming the show,” he explained. 

According to Romano, sometimes acting can be a lonely process. However, as every season progresses, the characters and actors begin to synchronize while also growing close. 

“You get to find out a lot about yourself, over a six-month period, which is crazy, in every season, you go into your more clear-mindedness,” the actor said. “Every season is just going to be better than the last. 

According to Romano, he is confident that Geoff Johns will absolutely deliver on season three and feels season 3 has the potential to be greater than season 2. 

“So we’re just going to continue trying to up our game and see what happens,” Trae said. 

When questioned what would be one factor you would tell someone to attract them to watch the series if they never have been exposed to superhero media. 

Trae stated “Stargirl” isn’t a superhero narrative, but a show that has been missing for a long time. 

“To me, it’s like it’s a comfort show,” Trae explained. “To me, it brings back what old TV used to be, like, I grew up on old TV shows all the time I grew up on new heart and mash and, you know, all these things that like when you would sit down you want you just have this fuzzy feeling inside.” 

Romano stated “Stargirl” checks off the boxes for being an unforgettable experience.  

“Like they have the human moments that make it shine, which is like these cool, like I said, like little side plots, side characters, all these things that just make it feel complete,” Trae said. “it has a heartbeat. Trae stated I think that it all depends on the fans, but hey, we might be on track to that.”

Brendan Rooney

Brendan Rooney has always been full of creativity and enthusiasm towards the world of widespread media. He is also a passionate comic book fan along with a die-hard sports pedigree. Brendan has written various articles covering all topics and dreams of forging a long-lasting legacy by bringing respect to the Rooney name as either a teacher, journalist, or whatever else the future holds. Brendan plans to graduate from Westfield State University in the spring of 2022 with a degree in English and a minor in Journalism.

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