The CW's DC's Stargirl's Alex Collins can finally talk about his role as Dr. Charles McNider/ Dr. Mid-Nite. Since joining the cast back in February, Collins has had to keep a pretty tight lid on playing the Golden Age Superhero who, until last week, was only heard as the voice of a pair of AI-style glasses, worn by Beth Chapel (Angelika Washington), the new Dr. Mid-Nite. After the shocking midseason reveal that Dr. Mid-Nite might still be 'alive' in the shadowland, Collins can share his thoughts on the character. No stranger to the small screen, Collins is recognizable for his rugged and brooding characters on HBO's Lovecraft Country and True Detective, FOX's The Gifted, and AMC's Turn: Washington's Spies. Now that Dr. Mid-Nite has connected with Beth, via the goggles, and finally emerged on screen, Collins speaks freely with Bleeding Cool to discuss working with Geoff Johns, teases what we can expect in the final episodes of the season, and he answers if he might actually be playing Eclipso.
I know that growing up in England you were a big fan of shows like "The A-Team," "Knight Rider," and "Transformers", and movies such as "Superman." What's it like to work on a show like "DC's Stargirl" and become a part of the lexicon?
Alex Collins: It's every kid's dream, isn't it? The first day I got to put on the super suit for the fitting, it just felt right. It felt really good. Sexy is not the right word, but there's something to it. The suit has weight, and then the cape, and the cowl and the helmet, the mask, everything. Just say, OK, this is real now. This feels really good… for me, it was pretty easy because my first day working was the funeral scene from the ninth episode, the flashback, so it took all the pressure off of me. I think that was by design, it was sort of a red herring,' There's McNider over there, but oh, don't look over there.'
You took over the role of Dr. McNider from Henry Thomas. Was there any pressure following his footsteps?
AC: No. Henry is a great actor. I've been a fan of his. I just wanted to do justice to the work that he'd already done and to the character itself. That eases the transition on the fans. You know, it's not such a jarring change. I've already been in half of the season essentially as Chuck, the AI, as that sort of misdirection there, as Beth Chappell is discovering her way. And I think that helps the fans as well. It's like this gentle spoon-feeding before we actually see the character in person. I'm just really grateful to be able to put on the suit and put on the glasses. Hopefully, I do justice to the character in terms of Henry's version and then all of the versions that have come before it.
Let's talk about "Summer School: Chapter Ten." We are pouring the gas on Dr. McNider, getting more storylines about him. What are we going to see happen with him in the next few episodes?
AC: Yeah, It's been a slow burn. The very first scene of the whole season is my daughter Rebecca at the birthday party, and we see young Bruce Gordon. As we lead into the finale, I think they're going to blow people away. Anyone who's been watching it both seasons, they already know it's undeniable how much darker this season is, right? We're going to really find that out as we get into episodes 10, 11, 12; really push the end of the season. That was a really good way of not saying anything specific.
It has been quite a season. Do you have a favorite "Stargirl" moment so far?
AC: Two moments really stand out for me. One is the emotional turmoil that Yolanda [Yvette Monreal] is going through. That's really heartbreaking. Her confessions really are heartbreaking, and I think she's doing some really great heavy lifting there. Obviously, what Angelica [Washington] is doing as Beth Chapel and seeing what she's enduring. Teenagers having to go through life is hard enough, right? Puberty is hard enough. And then you have to deal with absent parents, really high functioning, productive parents. She's sort of this latchkey kid who's been forgotten, and she's done a really wonderful job, Angelica as Beth. I think a lot of people can empathize with that. As a society, we're just busier and busier and we're so wrapped up in our devices and technology. An interesting juxtaposition here is that she's been forgotten by her family, and technology really is what connects her and saves her in a way. It's what connects her to me [Dr. Mid-Nite].
Is there a chance that you are not Dr. Mid-nite and you're actually Eclipso?
AC: I mean, there's a chance for anything, right? This is a chance for anything. As we've seen, nothing is what it seems. I think that's what's really interesting about the show is you can't take things at face value, necessarily. You do have a little bit deeper, and I think that's by design. And I think that's part of Geoff's (John) genius. Even the simplest things usually have a ripple effect somewhere else.
What's it like working with Geoff?
AC: That's wonderful. I've said this before, I think that working on a TV or film set can be a stressful affair. It's long hours, it's late nights. It's a lot of physically grueling work. This show, especially, there's so much amazing stunt work, you know, and I think that can fray people's nerves sometimes. A set is this organism, this living organism that you start from the leadership on the top, and Geoff has created such a warm, nurturing familial environment. And perhaps that's because this story is so personal to him. You know, the role of Courtney is his sister. And so from day one, from moment one, I was welcomed in like I'd been there from the very first scene. And that made my job easier because now I'm not in my head about things like that. You know, I feel like I belong there. I feel like an equal. Leadership trickles down effectively… Geoff just creates that environment. Having really experienced actors in Luke (Wilson) and Amy (Smart), that also helps to set the tone…There's no arrogance. There are no issues on that set. When it's time to work, it's time to work. But when you want to loosen up, there's always an opportunity to kind of hang out, relax.