DC's Stargirl is in full swing and this week, Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) decides to make her one-girl quest for justice a team effort as she sets out to recruit the next member of her new Justice Society of America: Yolanda Montez, Wildcat. Played by Yvette Monreal, Stargirl, Yolanda is at first reluctant to take up the heroic mantle after a traumatic experience turned her life upside down, but as fans see in the appropriately-titled episode "Wildcat", Courtney isn't the only one looking for justice and Yolanda is soon proven to be the perfect person to carry Ted Grant's legacy.
ComicBook.com recently had an opportunity to chat with Montez about all things Wildcat, with the star breaking down that painful origin story for the character, what drives her, how her experiences help her on her path to growing into her new heroic role, and even a bit about that amazing Wildcat super suit that gives Yolanda her incredible powers. Read on for more about Wildcat in our interview with Montez!
Stargirl airs Tuesdays at 8/7 on The CW. New episodes debut Mondays on DC Universe.
ComicBook.com: So, you are playing Wildcat in Stargirl!
Yvette Monreal: I know! It was kind of a surprise because I know that that character, Yolanda Montez especially like she goes back. I know there's been a couple of appearances from Ted Grant. But Yolanda, I feel like I haven't seen her. Like I think she was played maybe once, right? On TV.
I know Geoff was so excited because obviously this story is super special to them and it just makes it that much greater to be a part of, like just knowing that there's so much... He even said this comic series is probably the most special series he's developed because of everything behind it.
Yeah. And there's definitely a lot of love that comes across, not just in the way the series is put together, but in the performances, as well. One of the things that really leapt out at me is that you can feel the love that's coming through, both, in the story and in the way, everybody plays their characters. And I just think that's absolutely beautiful.
Honestly, it was really easy to develop that chemistry. Even with the villains, we just became such a tight-knit cast. Mostly, all of us are from LA and we moved to Atlanta, Georgia for this. Everyone became roommates basically. We all lived separately, but there's some people who lived in the same complex and then me and Meg DeLacy, we lived on our own. But we just became super tight knit, it was hard not to love each other and everyone's so nice. Everyone is so nice. I've never worked with a happier like fun-loving cast and the writers are amazing. Everything and all, it was like luxurious. It was too good to be true, almost.
That's awesome. Before you actually got to play Yolanda, were you familiar with the character from comics or did you have to do a lot of research to prepare?
I actually wasn't familiar with the comics. Growing up, my brother liked a lot of DC comics, like Batman, he collected all these DC comic books, but that was the only familiarity that I ever came across. Unless it was mainstream, no, I didn't really know about it. I really had to do my research and especially when I went out for Wildcat, it wasn't me going out for Wildcat. I was actually going out for someone named Tammy Perez. It was a dummy name so it wouldn't be released. But I had to do my research and I had to figure out from the sides that they gave me like what kind of superheroes was going to play or who I was going to play. And when I had a conversation with the producer/writer/creator I guessed it right. So, I was really proud of myself.
So, when we first meet Yolanda in Stargirl, it's absolutely heartbreaking. You see her backstory and it's such a serious thing to see portrayed, especially since it's something that I unfortunately think a lot of young women experience. That you can trust someone, they betray you and it really does change your life in a negative way, when we really see that for Yolanda and her family. How did you prepare for that kind of a heavy origin?
When I auditioned, one of the scenes that was really heavy, it was a part of the audition sides and it wasn't super heavy actually, but it was an emotional take. I just felt like a lot of the things that I audition for, it's all timing. I was in a place where emotionally, I was able to connect. There's a little method in there where if I connect to the character, it just comes across so much more. It was honestly just a time in my life where I felt like I was able to connect to her and I guess when I was shooting the series, I would just go back to that emotional feeling of what I was feeling... It was just a method of how I just went back to the time and place where I felt the same things that Yolanda felt emotionally. That's how I prepared.
How do you think that experience shapes Yolanda as the hero she's growing into?
I definitely think that it makes her who she is. There's a scene where she doesn't know if being Wildcat is the right step to take. She wants to make sure that she's comfortable in her own skin and she wants to address everything that's going on because, as you know, her parents aren't proud of her anymore. She is in a place where it's really tough to trust anyone again. She thought the one person that wouldn't betray her actually did, and that's like a hard pill to swallow. She's trying to put together all the pieces with her family. Her family is like her rock and they're not there for her anymore. It's like she's being shunned from that family. Before she can actually make that step to become Wildcat, she wants to try to make amends with her family first. And then I guess from then on it kind of makes Wildcat who she is.
One of the things I thought was really interesting is that in comics, Yolanda's origin kind of centers around that she's picking up the Wildcat mantle to honor Wildcat 1, Ted Grant, her godfather. And she's suiting up in his honor, but in Stargirl she's really suiting up for herself. Did you feel that that was an important distinction to make for the character considering her backstory?
Yeah, definitely. Geoff told me that there were going to be little differences from the comics to my character. I don't know if you know in the comics how Dr. Love made an experiment on my mom and then from that, that's how I got the cat-like abilities. That's different in the series and I think it's for just longevity in my character.
It's a better story, too, in a lot of ways because it gives Yolanda kind of her own agency.
Yeah. And she's able to do everything for herself. Ted Grant is, as you know, he is in the series and she's really big fan of the boxing community as a whole. She is a boxer, so they're still honoring that.
Absolutely. Let's talk about Yolanda's super suit. That is one of the coolest super suits I have seen in the DCTV universe. What was it like putting that on for the first time?
It was crazy. I feel like I had a first moment of like an epiphany of, "Wow! I'm actually going to play a superhero". That was always my dream as an actor, to be a superhero. So just when it all came together... Because it was a long process, I had to get scanned all over my body, I had to get those casts, those body casts, and I mean they were just working endlessly to try to perfect everything. And there's people who designed it on paper first and then they had to get me in just a regular black suit and then they were patching on the designs. Those triangular designs that go inward, they were patching those on, and it was a process. But once I finally put it on, it was a surreal moment of like, "Wow! This is going to be my life for the next six months, shooting the series". It was the best feeling in the world, I have to say.
I know a lot of times people will talk about their super suits and the way it fits and everything. Does it take you long to get into costume and is it comfortable to wear?
In the beginning it took a little longer than the end. At the end we kind of just got a hang of it. It was just being put on so much, especially to get loosened up a little bit. But in the beginning, it was really tight, and I had to wear a corset, so I was really suffocating, but then, pain is beauty, so... No, it was fun. It was fun. Everything about it was great. We developed a method, a really easy method of getting in and out of it pretty quickly towards the end of the series.
Absolutely. The suit gives her some pretty cool powers and that's amazing, but as we see in the episode where we really meet Yolanda, she's got a lot of smarts and it's kind of a natural superhero straight out of the gate. How do you think she feels about taking so naturally to being a hero?
You know what's cool about the series? I feel that the writers did a really good job in kind of exploring the powers with the character. They didn't exactly know how everything worked. It was like by trial and error, they were trying things out. She cut up a toaster, I don't know if that's still in there, but She was going through all these things and just testing everything out. And then especially when she climbed with the wall and then you see her out of breath. It doesn't come extremely natural, but obviously the suit helps tremendously. I think it was a good choice by Courtney Whitmore because I'm a boxer naturally. And so, I had that athletic ability I think. I think it was a great choice.
And your character plays really well off of Courtney. You can see their friendship kind of starting, but Yolanda doesn't completely trust her. And I think it's really neat to see that Courtney is so determined and that she's able to forge that bond with Yolanda. But I also think that you play off really well with Brec, as well in those scenes. It's just they're just a delight to watch you guys get into team up.
I appreciate you saying that because we actually got those comments on set, as well, by the crew and the writers and everything. I really appreciate that because that's really important, just chemistry and everything. And Brec's the best, we would meet up for scenes if we had anything we wanted to work out beforehand. She's amazing, she's talented, she plays so well as Stargirl and it was just really easy to work off of her, you know?0comments
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
DC's Stargirl airs Tuesdays at 8/7 on The CW. New episodes debut Mondays on DC Universe.