This week's episode of DC's Stargirl saw the full-on arrival of what may just be the DC Universe/The CW series' biggest bad of them all: Jordan Mahkent/Icicle. While viewers have seen glimpses of the character leading up to this week's appropriately titled "Icicle", this week's episode digs into the Injustice Society leader's origin and reveals what drives Icicle, played by Neil Jackson, in his plans for a "better" America and why he will stop at nothing to prevent Stargirl and her new generation of justice getting in his way.
ComicBook.com sat down with Jackson to discuss "Icicle" and talk about how this version of the DC Comics character came to be as well as how Icicle sees himself and his mission. We also spoke a bit about some of Jackson’s favorite moments working on Stargirl. Read on for our chat with Jackson to find out about all things Icicle below!
Stargirl airs Tuesdays at 8/7 on The CW. New episodes debut Mondays on DC Universe.
On the genesis of Stargirl's Icicle
ComicBook.com: This isn't the first time we've seen Icicle in the Arrowverse, but Stargirl has a very different take on the character. He's a lot more menacing in a sense. Tell me about how this version of the character came to be.
Neil Jackson: I mean, it came to be, simply because, I've known Geoff for 15 years, Geoff Johns. We did a TV series 15 years ago called, Blade: The Series. He called me up in January of last year and said, "We're making Stargirl as a series, and I'd love you to come on board and play Jordan Mahkent, aka Icicle." And then he pitched me the character over the phone, and I fell in love with what he had created with it. He's reinvented this character so beautifully, making him first generation American from Norway, and this backstory is everything. The way we open episode three, that's everything for me, about the gateway into who this person is.
He was desperately in love, had everything that he wanted, was a businessman, a husband, and a father. And then this thing happened to his wife, that caused her to get sick, and it wasn't her fault. It was somebody else caused it, and she ended up dying, and it just created this pain. There's a vacuum of a hole inside Jordan, that he needed to fix, and the only way he can fix it is by going out and making sure nobody ever has to suffer the same injustice again. That's the reason he formed the Injustice Society, and that comes with the sacrifice of his own happiness, and it comes with the sacrifice of his relationship with his son. But, his promise to Christine, as she was dying, to make the world a better place for the Cameron, he takes literally, and he devotes his entire life to that, both as a businessman, and then if we can't achieve it in the board room, he'll become Icicle, and achieve it through other means.
And in talking to Geoff about all of that, what it meant for me is, we talked about it, it was very easy for a Icicle to be angry, to be vitriolic, to want to burn the world down, but leading into the fact that he's cold and he's Icicle, I love the fact that he's just sad. I talked about, wanting to paint the character with this blue hue, of just like, he's just deeply, deeply sad. And I wanted to play every single scene with that sense of sadness. And he doesn't want to do this. He doesn't want to create this plan. He doesn't want to have to kill people. It's born out of the fact that the world is broken, and he believes that he is the only one with the strength of character to be able to change the world for the better. So, he sees himself as a hero, an anti-hero, born out of this tragedy.
And nothing can get in the way of that plan. Nothing can get in the way of him achieving his promise to his wife. And if that means people die, then people die, because the plan is bigger than that. And so once it was all put through that prism, he may seem incredibly menacing, but I see him as this, anti-hero with a very, very vitriolic plan, that he's set in place, that ultimately is for the betterment of mankind. I mean, one of the things we talked about when we were doing it is, likening him to Thanos, in the Avengers series. Thanos doesn't see himself as a villain, he sees himself as a hero, and he believes that by wiping out 50% indiscriminately of the universe's population, that everybody else would be slightly better. He thinks he's doing a good thing, even though everybody else hates him for it. And that is exactly what Jordan feels. He believes is doing the right thing, even though people might hate him for it. Ultimately, they'll realize that he was the hero.
On Icicle's emotional backstory
That scene, where we really get to find out his backstory, where we really meet him on his wife's death bed, he's so disarmingly human, and it's a depth to a villain that we don't usually get to see. What was it like preparing for that element of the character?
I said it to Geoff, when we were filming, I said, "It's kind of no acting necessary." I mean, you create this situation of a deep love and a wife who's dying. I had a young son, and you bring in the young son into essentially say goodbye to the last time to his wife. That's inherently emotional, and already breaks my heart, when you tell me that story. But when you add in there, Amanda Lavassani, who played Christine, my wife, and then this wonderful young actor, Roger Dale Floyd, who played young Cameron, they brought emotion to every single take. And we talked about it with the director, and we all discussed what we wanted to do. And then we said, "Let the emotions fly, and we'll see what we capture."
And with Jim France as Sofus, and Kay, who plays Lily, my characters mother, the emotion, it was heavy in that scene. I mean, several of the crew were crying, the director came around once and was crying. It was all there and heavy, and everyone just honored what the scene was about, cast and crew, and allowed us just to live within that. And I said, "It was no acting necessary." I walked into that set, and couldn't not cry, when put with those circumstances, and those brilliant actors, and then the mood that was created. And it's the thing that, when Geoff pitched it to me, is the thing that sold me on playing this character. Because playing Michael Myer's evil robot that just wants to destroy everything has its place, but that's not what is human. Humans are flawed and love and everything else like that, and I believe anybody who's done a dastardly thing in their own mind believes that they are justified, and this one theme was the justification, all the justification I needed to understand and empathize with it.
On feeling remorse
Now, as we see in the episode, the episode Icicle, is quite the rollercoaster, on a lot of levels, because you get that opening punch of Jordan's actual humanity, and his reasons make a whole lot of sense. There's that reality to it that I think a lot of people will connect with, but then we also see him do some pretty horrific things. I'm speaking specifically of him killing his teammate's, for lack of better term, son, and then him, himself. Do you think that Icicles mission is completely clouding any humanity that he has? Or do you think he feels remorse for some of these actions?
I think he feels remorse. I absolutely think he feels remorse. I mean, that's what we tried to play it with, and hopefully, as I said, I haven't seen the episodes, hopefully that comes across on screen. But the scene where the Wizard comes in, play brilliantly by Joe Knezevich, is, we talked about it, and that scene is about sadness. It's the sadness of, there's a wizard coming in, and then William Zarick, and then the fact that his son has died, and he's angry and he's sad. But then Jordan is also sad about the death of his wife, and the pain, but he's also sad that he now is going to have to kill his friend, because his friend is going against him, and going against the plan, and challenging the plan, that he's set in place. Which cannot happen because the plan is the most important thing.
So, there's a deep amount of sadness and pain in that scene. And one of the... There's no joy. He takes no joy in killing him, which can seem cold, no pun intended, but there's no joy in it. It's just, it's a sad, and unfortunate, necessary evil, that's happened. And the fact that he walks away, and the parents are like, "Don't worry, son, we'll take care of this." There's something very heartbreaking about it, that he's forced into this situation, because of the path he's chosen, but he takes no joy in it.
On Icicle's relationship with his own son
Absolutely. And I think there's definitely something that comes across, specifically in that scene, where we see his now teenage son come home, and his son is sad about the death of his classmate. And you definitely get to see some of that parental struggle, where, sometimes as a parent, sometimes you make choices for your children, that you hurt them, but in your mind, you're helping them as well. Can you tell us a little bit more about the parent son dynamic, we will get to see, between Icicle and his son?
Yeah. It's a really interesting dynamic that one, because there's obviously a deep, deep love, and a deep, deep bond there, from what they've shared with the mother, but also Jordan's an absentee father. He, in enacting this plan, and setting things in motion, and we get a lot more in episodes, four, five, and six, about what that plan is, and what he's been doing, why he's been away for such a long period of time. He's an absentee father. He doesn't have a close relationship with his son. His son is raised by the grandparents, and also his son is a stark reminder of the loss that Jordan, and the pain he feels for Christine. So, the hope, Jordan desperately hopes, that I know this, he desperately hopes that he can build up and repair, and he feels guilt for the fact that he doesn't have the relationship with his son, but he also feels like he's being the best father possible, because he's trying to make the world a better place.
And so he's torn between this overarching sense of duty to Christine, who said, "Make sure," the last words that she says to him, I can't remember what they were, but essentially, "Make sure Cameron gets a better world, and destroy anybody who gets in the way of that."
He's living that last phrase to the letter, to try to make sure that happens, but it comes with the sacrifices of relationship. And what's going to become interesting is, when his son finds out who his father is. Will his son accept him or will his son seem him as a monster? And both are very real possibilities.
About honoring the comic book character
Given that this character has multiple iterations in comics, and for fans like me, who love Icicle generally, did you feel any specific challenges in creating this new character, that's in many ways, completely unique to the series, considering the character in various forms does have such a rich comics history?
I mean, obviously I feel a responsibility to do the character justice, that's the overarching thing. And I mean, the character that's on the page, the character that Geoff has created that I'm going to play. In terms of honoring a sense of law and the history of this character, I looked at a lot of the characters online, and in the comic books, and they were so far removed from what we were creating here, that I didn't feel like I needed to do nods or anything to it. We initially talked about, with the costume design for example, with Emily Gunshor, who's the costume designer, and Geoff. The three of us, had long conversations about the look of Icicles outfit, and there was talks about giving him a silver outfit or something that had nods to the almost Jack Frost look of him in some of the comics.
And we said, "No, let's go with the script, and the story that's written." And the story that's written is Jordan tries to do everything through the business side of things, and through business diplomacy, and when that doesn't work, he becomes a soldier. He puts on his outfit and goes to war, to force his plan through using his other powers. And so let's do a nod to that. Let's make him more militant. Let's give him combat boots, and combat pants, and stuff that feels like he's in a war zone. And Emily took that idea, and ran with it, and created this wonderful look for him.
So everything was about honoring the script from this story, of this character, that's being created by Geoff, for the TV series. So, I hope fans of Icicle through the ages are enjoying what we're doing with it, because we wanted to create something new.
On Icicle's "heroic" entrance
I know when they introduce the character [Icicle} in the last minutes of the second episode, and they've got The Killers "The Man" blaring, we knew we were in for a treat. I knew we were in for a treat, because that's just the perfect song.
I was giggling to myself as I watched that, because this is a heroic entrance for the villain. I mean, it sets him up perfectly. So yeah, I was very excited when I finally saw that edit.
On memorable moments
Is there any particular experience or scene you've done, on Stargirl, that has stood out to you as a memorable moment or something that you've really just loved about being on the show?
Yeah, there's a ton of them. I mean, when the ISA, the Injustice Society, finally get together and sit around the table, and we're going to experience that, maybe in the next episode, I think, when they introduced Dragon King I loved those scenes. I loved those scenes because those scenes were so beautifully ridiculous. And I mean that with all respect. You've got a bunch of grown adults, most of us in our forties, sitting around a large table, pretending to be dastardly, plotting the world burning. But what they did, the first time we did that scene, is nobody had clearly sat at the table. So, you've got this huge circular table that looks very ornate and amazing, and these wonderful ornate chairs. But when we sat in them, the table was too high, and the chairs were too low. So, the table came up to my neck, and made me look like a five-year-old sat at the dinner table, waiting for dinner.0comments
So, we were like, "It's hard to be dastardly, when you look like you're a kid swinging their legs under, waiting for pudding." So, we laughed so much while we're doing those scenes. You just couldn't help it. Neil Hopkins is hilarious. Nelson Lee is hilarious. So is Eric Goins, so is Joy. Everybody who was in that scene is very, very funny. So, we would be just cracking ourselves up. But I think, testament to what you said, everything comes from Geoff. This is obviously Geoff's pet project, because of the origin of why he created it, with the death of his sister. And he is so passionate and loves it so much, and when you've got someone with that level of passion and creativity and love at the top, it trickles down to everything. And more than any other set I've got to be on, every single person, from producers all the way through to key grips, and step decks, were passionate about what they were doing, and that all is testament to Geoff, and what he gave to us every single day.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
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