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Brec Bassinger Talks Stargirl Season 3, Joel McHale, And The Show's Undecided Future - Exclusive Interview

Brec Bassinger's Stargirl is back from summer school and her brief stint as Eclipso for another season of DC's "Stargirl" — this time with Joel McHale in the picture as Starman. With Season 3 of the series titled "Frenemies," it looks like both young and adult members of the Justice Society of America (JSA) will have to team up with former villains as the meaning of "hero" gets redefined. And with the Brooks family moving in next door, two things are certain: There will be a fair bit of chaos and way too many unwelcome health trend dishes at the Whitmore/Dugan household.

Bassinger has a long résumé of credits, including 40 episodes as the title role in "Bella and the Bulldogs," a small role in "The Goldbergs," and 12 episodes of "School of Rock." She's also been in multiple movies like "47 Meters Down: Uncaged" and the upcoming "Saturday at the Starlight."

During an exclusive interview with Looper, she dished on what McHale's return means for Stargirl, how the duo navigates the staff, and what it was like working with McHale. With the future of The CW unclear, Bassinger also revealed whether or not the Season 3 finale will be satisfying if the show isn't renewed and which other DC show she wants to crash for a cameo.

Starman himself crashes Blue Valley

You've had the chance to work a fair bit with Joel McHale this season. What are some of the highlights of having him on the show? Can you tease how Starman's resurrection will affect the dynamic of Court's family life and the JSA?

[A highlight is] probably having Joel's energy on set. He never has a lack of words or lack of jokes. Having that energy on long days is so wonderful. It was so nice. The Starman storyline has been key since the very first season. [By] the end of it, we knew Starman was alive. Finally getting to have him front and center [is] so fulfilling — not only as being part of the show, but as fans watching. It is about time that he is in Blue Valley.

He lives in our basement now, and it definitely proposed a lot of questions. I had questions even coming into filming the season that I didn't know how they were going to go about them. Courtney obviously had questions, too. Who will the staff work for? Will it still work for her? Will it still work for Starman? Who does it belong to? Throughout the season, those questions are answered, and they find a nice little balance.

Starman is somewhat of a mentor to Court throughout the season. Has any of that bled into the dynamic between you and Joel off screen?

I would never tell him this, but I look up to Joel so much. He might be the most hardworking person I've ever met. I remember there was one night — it was a Friday night — we had a night shoot. He went straight from our night shoot, flew to Vegas for a comedy show, then flew home to have dinner with his family, and then flew back to Atlanta for filming at 5:00 a.m. Monday morning. He did it all with a smile on his face.

I was like, "You are not real. What do you eat? Because I want it." But seeing his positive attitude and his kindness toward people, I look up to him so much.

The bonds of found family

Throughout this season and last season, we've seen that Starman has a little bit of a narcissistic and vindictive side. Do you think Court is the better person to wield the staff to correct some of the mistakes that Sylvester has made? Or do you think that Starman rightfully has a claim to it as the superhero who came before?

To say Courtney is the better person wouldn't be the correct word. They're similar in that the cosmic staff works for both of them, but their way of going about things is so different. I do feel like they could learn different things from each other.

Sometimes Courtney's impulsiveness can make her seem naive. Starman can be impulsive, but he doesn't have this naive aspect because he's more experienced. I don't think there's necessarily a right one, but I truly believe [with] them working together, they balance each other out.

I love the idea of found family in this series. What do you love most about the characters deciding who they call family, and have those close familial bonds resonated off screen as well?

Yes. [In] Courtney's history with her real dad, she is very sensitive. That's probably something she's most emotional [about]. At this point, she sees Pat as her dad, which has been such a beautiful [and] fun relationship to allow to evolve. But then also the JSA are her chosen family: Yolanda, Beth, and Rick.

I love those scenes. We have quite a few scenes this season where we're sitting around the cafeteria table game planning. Those were always some of my favorite scenes, because we've gotten close off screen, and it almost feels like when we're filming those, "Yes, we're working together as a team" — the JSA and the show. But our characters [had] to work together as a team to get through that scene and use each other's energy to make it the best possible work. I truly believe life reflects art in a lot of ways.

The future of Stargirl and The CW

With most of The CW's DC shows gone or ending, the future of crossovers is up in the air. "Stargirl" has mostly been separated from the rest of the shows in the past, but are there any remaining shows that you'd love to appear on? Which actors or characters would you most want to team up with or against?

"Superman & Lois," tone-wise — I totally can see our shows mixing. Superman's one of the most iconic superheroes ever. It'd be really cool for Stargirl and Superman to work together.

Has there been any talk on how The CW merger might affect the future of the show? Do you know if the writers have taken this into consideration this season when it comes to the season finale and planning for the future?

We're so lucky ... So many things are up in the air, and we're keeping our fingers crossed. But [our showrunner] definitely protected the end, where regardless of the future, fans can feel happy, and they've got a good ending either way.

That's awesome. The ending of the Arrowverse as we know it also leaves the potential for actors and characters from the shows that have ended to appear in the remaining shows in some capacity. Are there any Arrowverse characters or actors that you'd love to see on "Stargirl" if the writers figured out a way to make it work?

From the very beginning, I said I've wanted to see Supergirl and Stargirl team up because [they would be the] most iconic female power duo. I feel like they would get along and push each other and support each other. From the very beginning, I've said Supergirl and Stargirl.

Enemies graduate to frenemies

I've always been fascinated by the villains on the show and their dynamic with their kids, particularly Icicle, Larry, and Paula. On one hand, they're willing to kill a bunch of teens for what they deem the greater good, but then they're fiercely protective of their own children. What is your take on the hypocrisy of some of the show's villains and the villains' attempted redemption arcs this season?

Coming from Courtney's perspective, Icicle's no longer in the picture. But when it comes to Sportsmaster and Tigress, they did team up with the JSA. Maybe it was to protect their kid, but also, there could have been other reasons.

Courtney wants to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they've changed and they've turned over a new leaf and want to be good. Throughout the last season, she's come to learn that not everyone is all good and not everyone is all bad. There's good in even the worst of people — Eclipso aside. He has no saving grace. But [Courtney] wants to give them the benefit of the doubt. When it comes to Icicle, he's no longer in the picture, but she has such an emotional connection to Cameron. She wants to be optimistic that he has good in him as well.

Courtney's love life has been put on the back burner for much of the past two seasons as she stepped into her role as a superhero. It looks like we'll be seeing more of that this season. Can you tease what fans can expect from that development and how it will affect the JSA?

Well, with Starman in the picture, the power is shared, so she has more freedom to balance her personal life on top of being Stargirl. Finally, there gets to be some time and attention to her love life, aka Cameron Mahkent. But even though she has such a natural connection with him, there are so many obstacles and so much history that make it a lot more difficult than just two teens who like each other. Especially with his powers coming in, there's a lot to be figured out between them.

The Cindy of it all

We're seeing an all-new version of Cindy this season — and a bunch of the villains, for that matter. Given that this season is titled "Frenemies," how do you think that concept informs the direction of the season, and how will that shake things up for the JSA?

With the start of the season, Sportsmaster and Tigress or Paula and Crock have moved in next door. They're literally our neighbors. As much as we want to call them friends, there's a lot of history there. Frenemies is the best term we can make of it. But even Cindy wanting to join the JSA, and Starman, with him back, the last time he was alive ...

Sportsmaster and Tigress were literally murdering him and his friends. Frenemies is the perfect term because even though Courtney wants there to be harmony in Blue Valley, there's so much more to it — so voila. We have frenemies.

Are there any heroes or villains from the "Stargirl" comics that you'd love to see on the show that haven't been on it yet?

I love Mr. Bones, and we've gotten little teases of him, and we'll get more of him in Season 3. But I still want more. I want more of him because he's so cool. I got to learn a little bit more about the history of him and his backstory, and I would want to know more because he's awesome.

Are there any actors or directors that you look up to that you'd love to see appear on the show in some capacity?

Honestly, what would be cool ... Lea Thompson has directed quite a few episodes of "Stargirl." She's directed every single season. We've done some little talks of her being the older version of "Stargirl" [in] flash-forwards. Not only do I look up to her as a director and actress, but she's a wonderful person too. Working alongside her in all capacities would be very cool to me.

Becoming a villain

In the Season 2 finale, Stargirl has a short-lived villainous arc. Was it exciting to tap into this darker version of Stargirl? Is that something that you'd love to explore again in the future?

Yes — it was so fun. I love Courtney. I love Stargirl. She's a light all the time, and it's a very positive character to get to play because I show up to set, and then if I'm in a bad mood, I'm like, "Okay, come on, be Courtney's light. Be Stargirl." 

But it was fun to get to do that because she's such a light. I felt like it was such a polar opposite moment. As an actor, it felt like a challenge, but also something really fun to get to explore and do. Even growing up in acting class, I always gravitated toward the villain look. Maybe it's because when people look at me, they're like, "You look so innocent in this," and I want to prove people wrong [and] that I can play evil. It was a very fulfilling moment for me.

TV's most exciting parents

I love Courtney's dynamic with Pat. Why do you think it's important to show a positive stepfather role on TV, and what has it been like forming that dynamic with Luke Wilson?

It's not seen a lot of the time on TV, so it was really important for our showrunner to put that front and center and the family as a whole. He says the three Hs are so important for Stargirl, which [are] heart, humor, and heroics — with heart being the most important. I do feel like Pat and Courtney's relationship is the heart of our story. It's been fun getting to see that relationship evolve, because at the beginning, there was a lot of ... I don't know if "animosity" is the right word, but definitely tension between Courtney and Pat. But having her heal her past and be open to Pat has been so beautiful. 

Luke, who plays Pat, [is] such a wonderful actor. We're both from Texas, so we bonded off that. I really look up to him, and he has so much great work. I'm like, "You're so cool."

You also have many great scenes with Amy Smart. What is it like having her as your on-screen mom?

Wonderful. I feel like I'm cliché talking about how amazing all my fellow actors are. But truly, I feel so lucky, because there's not a bad apple. Our whole cast and crew — we are so lucky. 

Amy is the most humble human being with a heart of gold. She has these eyes that when you're speaking to her, you know she's really listening. She's such an inspiration to me in that she has such a beautiful family. In real life, Amy has a beautiful daughter and a wonderful husband. She does such a great job balancing her work life with her personal life. It's been so inspiring for me to see that because that's something one day I hope to have. For me to see her do it so gracefully, it gives me hope that I'm like, "Oh, that's achievable. That's possible."

Season 3 of DC's "Stargirl" airs Wednesdays beginning August 31, with episodes streaming on The CW website the next day. 

This interview was edited for clarity.