When Stargirl returns to The CW for Season 2 on Aug. 10, Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) will find herself battling boredom, bad grades and a baddie like she's never faced before. The high schooler-by-day and budding superheroine on evenings and weekends starts the new season suffering the real-world embarrassment of summer school (also the official subtitle of Season 2) because JSA business stole her focus. With her parents on her case, and her friends focusing on their own issues, Courtney isn't exactly prepared when the next big threat, Eclipso (Nick Tarabay) makes himself known to Blue Valley.
With two seasons of Stargirl production behind her now, actress Brec Bassinger tells SYFY WIRE she hopes audiences will see the subtle changes in both Courtney and how she plays her as Season 2 unfolds.
"It's been interesting, because I feel like I'm still figuring out how to play a superhero," Bassinger admits. "I feel like it's almost natural for me to keep her grounded and keep her on her toes because Brec, personally, is still trying to figure things out when it comes to being a superhero."
Despite her young age of 22, Bassinger has already top-lined two series aimed at teens and families — Stargirl and Bella and the Bulldogs — but she admits this series has pushed her physically, mentally and even pop culture wise. She shares that showrunner Geoff Johns or the other adults in the cast will often reference film and TV shows that are baked into the DNA of their show, and she quickly gets lost. "99.9 percent of the time, I don't know them," she laughs. "I always have to go home and do my homework."
In particular, Bassinger says Johns gives her core titles to focus on in order to understand the theme or tone of the season at hand. "The first season, he had me watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Karate Kid. And then Back to the Future, more for tone purposes," she reveals. "And then for Season 2, going towards like the tone of things, it was A Nightmare on Elm Street and It."
The horror tone comes from the introduction of Eclipso, who will initially be a specter observing Stargirl and her JSA team to figure out how to use their vulnerabilities against them. For Courtney, Bassinger says her clear Achilles' heel is her birth father, Sam Kurtis (Geoff Stults). "We see in Season 1, at the very end, she finds out her father isn't Starman. He didn't die trying to save the world, but he essentially abandoned her and her mom. And while she can put on a brave face, and accepts [stepdad] Pat (Luke Wilson) into her life, that's something she's always going to be self-conscious and vulnerable about. Eclipso really can dig down deep and find all those hidden insecurities, not just with Courtney, but with all of the JSA and everyone."
As one of the most positive and joyful of the superheroes out there right now in film or TV, Bassinger's brightly enthusiastic turn as Stargirl is a big part of how the series has distinguished itself in just one season. Bassinger says from day one, she's been a shepherd in keeping Courtney's tone very specific.
"I just didn't want her to be bratty," she explains. "For every single scene where she had a sassy remark, I would sit down with Geoff and be like, ‘We have to keep her as a loving human being. She can be funny and she can be sassy, but not bratty.' I had that conversation so many times, because I felt like there's a fine line that can lose that optimistic positivity so easily."
And keeping Courtney strong this season is going to be important both in her teen life, and as a burgeoning superhero. On the high school front, Bassinger says the show is staying true to the awkwardness of it all. "Finding those very sincere, high school moments were really important to me," she explains. "Like giving her those awkward moments specifically with Cameron (Hunter Sansone)."
Those two were teased with some mutual chemistry in Season 1, but Stargirl was integral in bringing down his dad's alter-ego, Icicle (Neil Jackson), in the season finale. Not exactly a great way to start a relationship. Bassinger agrees, saying, "There's a lot there to unpack."
On the friend front, there will be movements too like Courtney having more involvement with Blue Valley star athlete Artemis Crock (Stella Smith). "She doesn't really know how much Artemis knows about anything at all, but I feel like that [friendship] brings out certain things in Courtney that we haven't seen."
Season 2 will also weave in guest appearances from the likes of John Wesley Shipp, who played TV's The Flash in 1990, and Joel McHale, revealed to be the real Starman of the original JSA. Having them joining the narrative will be a big deal to many viewers but Bassinger admits she tries not to let that get into her head, or her nerves, so she chose go in blind about new actors coming into Season 2.
"If I go in overly prepared, I'll just naturally get nervous and awkward," she laughs. "It's easier if I just go in and enjoy having those conversations with people like Luke. Obviously, I knew who he was before diving into the show, and I was a big fan of him. But I would much rather sit down and learn about his career, and him as a person through him, instead of being like, 'I researched and wrote a paper about you. Hi, Luke Wilson from Texas!'"
Under strict guidance not to spill too much about Season 2, Bassinger was happy to round out the conversation by sharing her two favorites episodes in the arc to come. "Episode 6, I'm just freaking excited for fans to see," she enthuses. "It's probably the biggest episode we've ever done, and it's such a big turning point for the season. It'll leave people speechless. And then Episode 11, it's an episode that Stargirl has never done and very few shows have done. And from an acting perspective, it pushed me. I was emotionally drained that week, but in the best ways possible."
Season 2 of Stargirl premieres on Aug. 10 at 8 p.m. Eastern on The CW.