Exclusive: Alex Collins on Taking Over Dr. Midnite

After Tuesday night's episode, the JSA has lost their leader! Stargirl has been thrown into the Shadowlands by Eclipso and with Courtney gone, the staff inoperable, the remaining JSA members are quite vulnerable to whatever Eclipso has planned. Today, we took a deep dive into the shadowlands ourselves (notice the black and white [clear cache if you don't see]) to catch up with the one ally Courtney might find there, Dr. McNider himself aka Alex Collins. Ever since season 2 began Alex took over the role of Dr. McNider from goggle voice over, to in person acting! Our sincerest thanks to Alex who did double duty for us, allowing us to interview him twice when our recording software failed! Tuesday night Beth finally made contact with Charles McNider and that connection was long enough to unlock the Eclipso files. Can you tease any more about Dr. Midnite coming up? Is Charles coming back?

I think everything has been leading up to next week's episode.

The whole season, there has been this really nice slow burn. You know, when you go camping, the fire isn't roaring right off the bat. A little bit of wood, a little bit of kindling on it, and you have to blow on it. And you have to protect it from the wind and make sure it doesn't go out. That's kind of what this season has been. They focused one episode on one character, one episode on another character, and so on. The story has slowly unfurled. I think episode nine with the flashback last week with Eclipso really kind of stepping up his game and Shade revealing some of his plots, I think it all leads to next week. We honestly feel like it's built to the point that next week could be the season finale.

We still got more. But I think what's really going to happen is it's going to build to this sort of crescendo next week that then will lead into the back part of the season, which will answer a lot of things for the audience and tie up some loose ends. But then as all good shows do, we'll also pose more questions.

0234 dr midnite How did this opportunity come to you?

So I'm based in Atlanta, the show shoots in Atlanta, and I actually, you know, through my agent, through my reps, I've auditioned for the show a few times. I actually, over the course of the first season had an opportunity to audition a couple of times. Things just didn't work out for whatever reason. Then I had also auditioned before season two, for one of the roles in season two and for whatever reason that didn't come about. But all of that is not a negative, it's a positive. All of that just got an opportunity to see my work in a number of different ways, inhabiting a number of different characters. Then they were able to find the right place for me. I'm really grateful that they did and I love playing Doctor MidNite. Obviously, everybody knows Henry Thomas in the pilot and he did a wonderful job. And you know, I've been a fan of his since the early days, ET and Gangs of New York and Haunting of Hill House and his entire body of work. You know, it happens quite often in television that sometimes schedules change or availability changes, and I don't know what the details are surrounding his departure. But for me, I win because I get to put on the cape. And I get to put on the boots. And I get to pick up the story where he where he left off and hopefully I do justice to his version, but also to the different versions in the comic books over so many decades. As an actor, are there different challenges taking on a role already played by another actor?

Not really, right? As an actor, you need to do your due diligence and pay homage to the source material. But you also need to make it your own. So whether someone else has played this or not, it doesn't really matter. A lot of different people have played Superman or Spider Man, many, many decades of those characters. But your job as an actor is to bring your own approach to it, your own spin to it. But I also wanted to make sure that it was as seamless of a transition for the audience as possible. And I think, Geoff [Johns] and the production team did a really nice job of that because as you well know, the first several episodes of the season, that's trying to make contact or myself trying to make contact with Beth. So it's from a voiceover point of view, it's from Chuck’s point of view. And so the audience isn’t jarred into this “wait a second, it's not the same person”, the transition is a seamless one. Then when you finally do see me, in person, for real, it's in the flashback episode. And Geoff throws another curveball, or, you know, the writers throw another curveball by going, “Oh, look, there's The Flash, let's go look at The Flash”. And so all of the attention goes on the amazing John Wesley Shipp for that scene. He's a great distraction. He's a legend. And so that really helped, it was very much that ensemble team led by The Flash. That kind of again deflects and starts to tell other stories. Which brings us to this week’s and next week's episode where the layers are really going to start to be peeled back. Speaking of transitions, I didn't even notice the voice changed until much later. Talk about seamless. And we were so excited about The Flash on the show, it was definitely a stroke of genius.

Yeah, I think that's the beauty of the show is nothing is by accident. And things that you think are just tiny little details in one episode, four or five episodes later, they come back and you go, “Oh, that's what that was”. That's the wonderful thing about a comic book story is you're constantly going back and thinking about something that happened a long time ago, and how it relates to something now. In a press release you spoke about how welcoming the environment was on set, can you speak more about what it was like joining the Stargirl team?

I have so much fun. Honestly, I've been on different sets over the years, you know, big massive studio films, lovely network TV, cable, HBO, all of those sorts of things. And this is the warmest, most loving, most familial set I've ever worked on. And I think that attitude and behavior starts at the top, right? So Geoff sets the tone, he was warm and welcoming. And that followed-through to Brec and Amy and Luke, Angelika and everyone else, and the crew as well. It's the sort of thing where people hang out socially after work. People celebrate each other's birthdays. I think I told this story in another interview. Amy had her birthday one night when we were shooting on location. And we sang her Happy Birthday at about three in the morning. And then every single time she was in a scene we sang Happy Birthday. We ended up singing Happy Birthday about eight or nine times for Amy and she was a trouper and loved it and was very gracious. Sometimes when everybody's tired and you get a little stir crazy, you kind of have to dance around and have fun.

0234 birthday Is there a difference between filming things in Georgia versus the California Los Angeles sort of filming culture?

That’s a really good question and that's a really intelligent question because ultimately what ends up on screen, you wouldn't know where it was filmed, necessarily, unless there's a landmark on location. Oh, that's the Empire State Building, you can physically tell that’s the Empire State Building. But I think generally speaking in the south, people are really pleasant. And people are really excited to see a film or TV production in their neighborhood, besides the traffic it can cause. But they’re sort of pleasantly surprised once filming; who's here and maybe they can see somebody famous, or they get to see a cool costume, or especially Atlanta is really home to a lot of the Marvel and DC feature projects. And so they might see some massive spectacle with three or 400 in the background. You know, things like that. So that becomes really interesting.

In LA, everybody knows LA and Hollywood, you're supposed to see things there. But here, it's still a bit more of a novelty and there's a charm. It's sort of like kids on Christmas morning, that look in their eyes. Oh, my gosh, there's a TV show there. That's really cool. Cameron Gellman wanted us to ask who’s the stronger Dr. Midnite, Charles or Beth?

I think season two is showing how strong Beth is emotionally, how much she's maturing and growing into herself. And there's something to be said for that. I think, physically, we know that some of the other characters are known for their physical attributes, while Beth is known for her mental attributes. Don't count Beth out because I think you're going to see as the story progresses, she's going to take more and more on her shoulders. Now with all of that said, I think right now, OG Dr. Midnight is probably physically a little bit stronger. But that is a formidable opponent. Let's face it, Beth stared Eclipso right in his eyeballs, and said, I'm not letting go of these goggles.

That's right! She did not back down. And Eclipso is so really dark, dark, dark, scary. He’s evil, there’s not a sliver of light in there anywhere. You also mentor up and coming actors, right? I know, you said you've auditioned and auditioned and didn't get the part. But then you finally did. Is there some advice you'd like to give actors that are really just trying to make it right now?

It's such a noble pursuit, acting, and it's so often overlooked. But if you look throughout the history of civilized culture, if you go all the way back to the cavemen, people painted paintings on the wall of the cave to tell us to tell stories. People gathered around the fire. And someone told the story of that battle when they got that woolly mammoth, the giant bore. And they passed those stories down. Storytelling is a central theme in every culture in the history of our planet.

So I try and tell younger actors who often get discouraged because they hear no, no, no, they hear 1000 no’s and I say, look, what you're doing is you're carrying on a legacy that’s really important. When tragedy strikes, people seek solace in a book, in a painting, or in moving pictures. Know that what you do has value. And that extends to theater as well, obviously, film, TV. The performing art has value. Tthe most important thing to remember is there's no expiration on your dreams. You can be an actor with every breath that you take until the very last breath. You know, as a professional athlete, everyone's going to have to retire at some point. You can no longer run fast enough or jump high enough or throw far enough. But as an actor, the longer your life gets, the more emotional resources you have to pull from. The stronger your storytelling capabilities theoretically are.

And so you can be a storyteller to your very last breath. It's a marathon. It's not a sprint. I love working with actors. I love teaching and coaching.

0234 alex collins Where can people follow you?

So if anybody wants to really learn about some of the things that I'm doing personally, they can follow me on Instagram, AlexBCollins, or on Twitter, @AlexCollinsActs. And then for free tips and tricks and motivational things about being an actor, @BeyondActing on Instagram.

Again our heartfelt thanks to Alex for not only taking time to speak with us, but doing so twice due to our technical mishap! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and in the forum! Follow us on Twitter to get breaking news!

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