At the time of this writing, the world will have been in lockdown for over 6 weeks (give or take a few weeks based on your geographical location) and after zombie-like devouring of all media, society is hungry for even more fresh content. Warner Bros/DC Comics has answered that call to action, with Stargirl is set to premiere on the DC Universe subscription service Monday, May 18th, followed by a The CW premiere on Tuesday, May 19th at 8pm, one day after it airs on DC Universe. Based on the DC Comics superhero of the same name and created by Geoff Johns and Lee Moder, the series will follow Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), heir to the cosmic staff, as she leads a new generation of superheroes as the titular Stargirl, forming a new Justice Society of America.
During what history will call "The Quarantine Days", series star Yvette Monreal (Matador, Rambo: Last Blood) took some time out from doing Zoom workouts with her friends during the pandemic, to chat about her latest role. The pilot episode of Stargirl is incredible, but Courtney's best friend, Yolanda Montez (Monreal)-heir to the mantle of Wildcat- is hardly in the first episode. Barely a cameo. The vibrant Yvette tells me that her character is slowly but surely being established, but won't really come to fruition until the fourth episode when she reveals her costume and majestically dons her cowl. In the comics, Yolanda is the goddaughter of the original Wildcat Ted Grant, a man widely hailed as one of the best fighters in the DCU. Yvette quickly points out the differences in her character:
"He's not my godfather in the show. He is the Godfather in the comic book but in the show, he is a very famous and prestigious boxer. In my family we watch boxing, so he's a big inspiration for me. No no he's not my godfather, he's, it changed a little bit from the comic and I also wasn't an experiment from Doctor Love… that's changed as well in the series. In the series Courtney (Bassinger) finds a group to join her in the Justice Society and I'm one of those people because I am a natural boxer and that's one of my strengths. So she sees me as a great asset."
It's not just boxing skills that get Yolanda noticed. The fascinating Monreal explains that Wildcat is also a metahuman
"I have cat-like abilities. I can jump really high. My claws, they can break through pretty much anything. I can crawl up buildings. I have everything that a superhero cat would have,(my claws are) kind of like Wolverine but instead of my knuckles (they extend) from my fingers."
Although she is very familiar with the Yolonda/Wildcat source material, she had to do her research. As she sits in front of a gift from her father, a framed Wildcat poster prominently displayed on her wall, Yvette tells me it was her brother that was the DC comic fan. So growing up unless it was really mainstream she wasn't really familiar. She explains that the producers kept her in the dark about the role: "They didn't tell us, they didn't tell me what I was auditioning for. I kind of figured it out with the dummy sides. when I had that Skype call with Geoff (Johns) so he was like "Yeah, you're Wildcat. Good guess." So I had to do my research. I had to do a lot of digging."
Has all that research has left Yvette a bigger fan? "I'm a huge fan of my character now because she's just like awesome. I'm just so thankful that Geoff Johns is bringing her to a greater light."
Living in a "Lockdown Society" has created a whole new way to promote an upcoming project. Myself being used to the hustle and bustle of interviewing at Comic Cons, I asked the extremely talented Monreal how she adjusting to promotion via Skype/ phone calls versus the bright lights of a movie premiere:
"It's a little more relaxed,I would say because I'm just in the comfort of my own home. I'm sitting on my bed just able to call and answer the calls but I feel like in a little more nervous when it was in person because they have all these blinding lights on the carpet and sometimes I just freeze up even if it's just a simple question I'll like freeze up and think it's the hardest thing in the world and then afterward I'm like why did I do that? Why did I freeze up? but it's all with time. Since I did the press with the Rambo movie I'm a lot more relaxed now and it's easier to do these things. It's just … the more you do it the easier it gets, kind of thing."
Monreal on Working with Sylvester Stallone on Rambo: Last Blood
The Mexican/Chilean graduate of the Stella Adler Art of Acting Conservatory hypnotized the audience as Gaberielle, alongside Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone in Rambo: Last Blood. I asked her what it was like working, both on and off-screen, with such an iconic actor, Monreal tells me:
"It was really awesome to see him on set and just have so much passion still. He really really cares about how the movie turns out, about how it looks and everything. You just hear these conversations with him and how he expresses his love for the art and everything. He gave me a lot of tips… just really present in the moment. I feel like that's what I learned from being on-set. Not learned but it was kind of like a reminder of just being present, and going off how he's acting. It was a little stressful. It was a little intimidating at first."
But the Last Blood shoot was not all work and no play, Yvette tells me that while they shot in Bulgaria she didn't really get to explore much, but the last month-and-a-half in the Canary Islands was quite enjoyable. "I had my brother and my best friend come out and visit me and I had a little extra time there to explore, so it was a really beautiful island. I didn't even know it existed. That was just like the time of my life. it was the best. It was actually the first film I didn't shoot in L.A., which was awesome."
With Wildcat and the new JSA planted firmly in the DC Multiverse Stargirl, it finds itself positioned for potential crossovers with The Flash, Batwoman, and possibly Titans. It is a fairly safe bet that we will see the Justice Society meet new heroes in the next "Crisis On Infinite Earths"-level event. Until then, Yvette tells me Stargirl will broadcast first on the DC universe, then again the following day on The CW network, reminding me that "Also on the DC Universe [subscription service], they're going to air a longer version, because we shot these episodes like I think it's 40 minutes. I think it's an hour-long on the DC Universe. and then 40 minutes on CW. I could be wrong. Don't quote me, but I know it's a little bit longer on the DC Universe. It's worth checking out."
The passion Yvette elegantly expresses for her latest role is infectious as she conveys one last final thought: "I would just say that this, this show is for everyone, I mean it's very family-oriented. I feel like it transcribes to kids and adults so I feel like it's in a very special, special series to all of us. There's a lot of heart behind it, and we all worked so hard to do our best. So I hope that everyone likes it."
You can see Stargirl, starring Monreal and Bassinger, when it premieres Monday, May 18th on DC Universe's subscription service, then again Tuesday, May 19th at 8 pm on The CW.