This week's episode of DC's Stargirl saw Courtney Whitmore's new Justice Society grow by two with the addition of Beth Chapel as Doctor Mid-Nite and Rick Tyler as Hourman. For Rick, his joining the team came with the discovery of a painful truth about his past, his parents, something that proves to be just as painful as the grief and trauma the troubled young man has already been living with for so long.
Played by Cameron Gellman, Rick is set to bring not only a new set of strengths to the team as granted by his status as the new Hourman, but may also challenge Courtney's mission for to get justice for the man she believes to be her father. While Courtney is looking to right a wrong and essentially avenge the fallen JSA, Rick is much more interested in another way to balance the scales: he wants revenge. It makes for an interesting spin on an iconic comic book character, one whose legacy creates a lot of opportunities on Stargirl. ComicBook.com recently spoke with Gellman about Stargirl's Rick Tyler, how he helped craft the series' unique take on Hourman, as well as what he called a "very iconic kind of divine experience" of being part of seeing the Geoff Johns-created series come to life on screen.
Read on for our chat with Gellman below.
ComicBook.com: Tell us about Rick.
Cameron Gellman: For sure. Rick Tyler is a well-intentioned, really smart kid that does not have the resources to heal from losing his parents and doesn't have the support, obviously, from his uncle or anyone in the town. I think he's sort of been written off by everybody as a lost cause and someone that's just around to cause trouble, but totally has this brilliance in him that his father did and just needs a push, just needs something to like get going and something to be hopeful about, because I think he sees his future as pretty dead end already, and he's only in high school.prevnext
One of the things that we see in Stargirl, just kind of in general with most of the characters in the show, is that they have origin stories and backstories that are a little bit different than what they are in comics, but it's also kind of a really fresh take as well. Rick in particular has a very different story, from how his powers work, to also his actual origin. How familiar were you with the Hourman character before Stargirl?
Not really familiar. I knew of the Justice Society, but because Hourman wasn't really a popular character in the media, and that was sort of where I got my comic education, I didn't know much. And then upon booking the role, I just went head first into as much research as I could do. And that's when I came to understand, like you were talking about, because I had already talked to Jeff and kind of gotten the idea about where Rick was going.
When I read the comics, they were, like I said, so different and there's also different universes and realities for Rick. I read about strips of comics, where he was completely a villain. I read comics where he was an android from the future that was coming back to visit himself. There's so many different, really creative, vastly different narratives about him, that just kind of compiled all of it and made notes about the things that I thought were particularly cool, and then went to Jeff and said, "Hey, what if this is true? What are we honoring? What are we honoring outright? And what are we honoring quantity?"
And then I picked a couple of things for myself that I kind of included on my own just because I really liked them but so different from the comics, just like you said.prevnext
What were those things that you kind of chose for yourself that you really liked from comics?
That's a great question. I think I took a lot of inspiration about who my father was from the comics, because I don't think you grieve something that you've lost unless the thing you're grieving was amazing or had an effect on you. And so, it was so important to me to really build up my parents in my mind and to build up what that stability might've felt like and that warmth of being in a family that might've felt like before my parents die.
And so, I took a lot of cues from the comics about how accomplished my father was and how brilliant he was. And obviously, in the show, right now, we're not talking about his pharmaceutical company or any of that stuff, but I thought of all of that, and I let that inspire the idea of a man who set an example for me in my formative years, of being really innovative and really creative and of being someone that really wanted to actually make the world a better place. And I really got his voice in my head about that and sort of let that fuel this really unhealthy cycle for Rick of hearing his father's voice, reminding him to do the right thing and then Rick doing the wrong thing and then feeling ashamed for it and sort of further burying himself in his hole of lacking worth. You know what I mean?prevnext
There are parallels in his origin story with that of Stargirl's, because they're both dealing with the loss of a parent on some level, but there's also that parallel with Icicle in that you're dealing with the tragic loss of someone that you really love, who has a very, very important impact on you and what that grief will do to you. What can you kind of tell us about Rick's motivation?
I think has suffered his entire young adult life because he doesn't have the support or stability of a great family, and he got dumped in the town that isn't really a place where he's going to advance himself. And he was dumped with a caretaker that doesn't take care of him.
And so, there's just all of this, like every day, pent up ... Rick's pissed off. He hates the life that he's living and knows he's not on track to accomplish anything. The only thing that he's ... building this Mustang, which maybe why he built his Mustang, and then he skips town with it. There's a dream there somewhere, but clearly whatever hope he has is small and is attached to his car, and he's hoping that it'll give him guidance, by way of like channeling his father.
And then this team suddenly says to him, "Hey, you don't have to wonder anymore about your pain. Here's an explanation for it. This wasn't just a tragedy. Someone robbed you of a happy life. Someone actually took that away from you, and they did it intentionally."
Even just talking about it now, I remember what that felt like to hear it for the first time. There's no words to explain his rage. Someone is to blame now. There's a face for it, and there's people he can go after. And so, I think a really core purpose was to bring him this hourglass. Beyond that, I think his mentality is, "If you guys want to be around, I've got three helpers, but I'm doing this. I know where I'm going. I'm going to get information. Apparently you guys have more information than I do. So, fine. I'll stay around you." And that's what's different.prevnext
One of the things we get to see that I think is really interesting, because he's like, "I'm not a team player." But also, we get to see this real connection, just kind of ... The one person who really reaches out to him in that moment where he's struggling, he's hitting the tree, is Beth. She shows up because she now knows the whole story. She knows what happened. And she shows up, and in a sense, she kind of gives him the gift of that understanding that he was robbed. What can you kind of tease for us about the best Rick dynamic going forward?
Yeah. I mean, what you said about yin and yang, I think is so true, but not only is he sort of the brawn but then she's also very much the brains, and they work together so much, that it's sort of fun to see, is it oil and water or are these personality and these energies capable of mixing? Can he rub off on him, and make him laugh? Can he help her deal with the dark parts of himself? I think all of us have both in us, but usually one is more dominant, and I think that he's struggling, even though Beth is struggling in a similar way to Rick in that she doesn't really know what her place is in the world, and her parents are a bit too busy for her. And it's kind of time to grow up and find another community.
So both of us are sort of without a tribe, and then we have each other. And I think you'll see a lot of really fun push and pull between them, as Rick sort of gives a little bit and trusts her and then pulls back a little bit, and she just sort of continues to show up and be a good friend. And she's also so sensitive, and Rick is not always considerate with his words, and he can be too aggressive and hurts Beth's feelings a lot. So it's kind of a constant struggle with them, because she really is just trying to help. And he goes back and forth between accepting that help and completely pushing her away.prevnext
Now, in this week's episode, we don't get to see Rick in full costume, though the hourglass is absolutely a thrilling moment, and I think anyone who sees it's going to be very excited. What was it like suiting up not only in your own super suit for the first time, but something that is truly very, very comics accurate to this character who for a lot of people is iconic?
Yeah. I mean, obviously, the second you commit to playing a character, something like that was from being just significant to being really emotional. You're stepping into a piece of history first off, that is honoring the comics, and all of a sudden ... It's pretty hard to actually deny the reality. Like, how do I say this? It's very easy to feel like an actual superhero when you are in an actual super suit. Like every stop is pulled out, you get this gorgeous form fitting, heavy suit, that you're like, "Oh, my God, this is real."
And at least think about what it means to wear it, because it's not easy to put on. And so, you have a team of people, helping you get these different parts of it on, and it wasn't something we did all the time on set.
So putting it on, which was a really specific honor and also was such a reminder of like, today's a serious day. Our group is doing something that's really important and something that is straight from the comics. So, then for Rick, putting on a suit [inaudible] doesn't feel he's earned, that fit his father. It really isn't for him, and he was from thinking his dad died in a car accident, to suddenly like finding out that his dad was a literal superhero, because he always thought his dad was incredible.
And so, now he's trying he's trying to fill, and I think there's a lot of complicated feelings that come up with that. So I love dancing in that space and just seeing what that felt like and being suited up with the team and knowing we were there for Courtney Johns and knowing we were there for Geoff Johns, who imagined us looking that way in his head for 20 years. And then suddenly we're there doing it and throwing actual punches and catching members of the team that fall out of buildings and throwing heavy objects. It was really a very iconic kind of divine experience for us for me.prevnext
Now that you play a superhero on TV, I have to ask, if you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?0comments
If I could have a superpower, what would it be and why? You know what? The super strength is so much fun, is much fun just because like I feel very like limitless when [inaudible] have it. But in the world that we live in right now, I feel like knowledge is so powerful, and I feel like to have it is to be a superhero. So I almost want to say, I would just take the goggles. Like if I could look at people and kind of get their whole breakdown, like I think that, that would be an incredible [power] in the world that we live in. You know? And I think it's really easy too, to value that power because she's not flying in the air, or whatever, or punching people a mile like Rick does, but man, like that's ... If you know everything there is to know about people, you've got the upper hand, and that's really powerful. So I would definitely ... within the show, I'd pick her [Doctor Mid-Nite].
Stargirl airs Tuesdays at 8/7 on The CW. New episodes debut Mondays on DC Universe.prev