Hunter Sansone currently portrays Cameron Mahkent on DC’s Stargirl. Here is Courageous Nerd’s Exclusive Interview with the actor behind Icicle’s (Neil Jackson) son.
Cameron Mahkent, portrayed by Missouri-born actor Hunter Sansone, is a major character on DC’s Stargirl, which premiered in May 2020. In the show, currently airing on both DC Universe and The CW, Cameron has a dual function as the son of lead villain Jordan Mahkent/Icicle (Neil Jackson) and potential love interest to lead character Courtney Whitmore/Stargirl (Brec Bassinger).
Aside from Stargirl, Hunter’s other work includes an upcoming film, as-of-now untitled, due to air on Disney +.
In this Exclusive Interview, Hunter discusses his experience playing Cameron Mahkent, landing the role and where he would like to see the character go in Season 2. Additionally, we also chat about Hunter’s role in the Disney+ film and whether he auditioned for any other characters on Stargirl, besides the one he got.
Thank you Hunter for taking the time to chat with Courageous Nerd.
You currently play Cameron Mahkent on Stargirl for DC Universe and The CW. How much has your life changed in the past 11 weeks, since the show premiered?
Hunter Sansone (HS): I would have to say it’s been pretty significant. I’m very humbled and grateful to be a part of such an amazing show, with such an amazing group of people who have become my friends and to an extent, like a family. Over these past, as you said, 11 weeks, it’s been pretty surreal. You know, I’ve been back home with my family because of the pandemic. I’ve just been watching it with them.
It’s been a very neat experience to watch my family watch my work and sit back with them. As I was saying, it’s been pretty significant, good things are happening career-wise. Everything’s kind of on a pause right now, as I said, because of the pandemic. It’s been very good and I’m just very grateful for the opportunity. I’m happy that so many people love the show. We all have loved it from day one, of course. Now that the world has gotten to see the majority of it and the reception has been so positive. It really makes us happy and feel good.
Fans of Stargirl may not know a lot about Cameron Mahkent but know even less about Hunter Sansone. How different/similar are you to your character?
HS: That’s a fun question. I would have to say I am pretty dang different from Cameron. I grew up playing sports and also being out on my farm. Part of my life, I was on a farm, part of my life I was in the city playing sports. I was very outdoors-y and into stuff like that. Cameron is this very talented artist. Cameron is also on the withdrawn and introverted side. I definitely think I was more social, I always had friends over spending the night. I had a little social crew like that when I was younger and I grew up with a lot of cousins. I was always hanging out with my guy cousins, playing sports, games and different things like that.
Cameron is such a complex person because he went through so much at such a young age, with losing his mother, never really seeing his Dad and practically being raised by his grandparents. When you have that type of stuff go on at such a young age, you can’t help but probably become very withdrawn and to yourself. Cameron expresses his emotions and point of view to the world through his art, which I think is so much fun as an actor. It’s a very beautiful thing to look at, a very human thing.
Hunter, me, was definitely not into art at a young age. It was very different to get into but I think that’s the joy of acting, you get to bring all these different people to life.
It’s the joy of doing something like this, as well. This is something people may not have necessarily known and may find interesting.
HS: Yeah, that’s how it was for me. Definitely different.
Cameron Mahkent has been in DC Comics since the 1980s. How much research did you do into the comic-book version when you were cast?
HS: Yeah, so I definitely did a good amount of research as soon as I found out who I would be playing. At first, I didn’t know. Going into the audition process, I did not know who I was auditioning for. I knew very little about the character and the project was very under wraps. But as soon as I found out; Cameron Mahkent, Icicle Jr., that whole world, I was basically went into as many different different comics as I could that referenced him. The thing is, our creator Geoff Johns is not following the comics word for word. He’s taking the show in different directions which I think is fantastic.
He’s obviously referencing the comics. It’s not specific event by specific event as it takes place in the comics so he definitely branches off and makes things a little bit different. I think that’s awesome. For me, I dove into all the comics that referenced Cameron and studied it as much as I could. I’m a bit different in the comics, some of the comics at least. It’s fun, it was very helpful and it gave me an idea for sure. I’m going to continue to educate myself, especially as future seasons take place. I want to have this character continue to hopefully evolve and grow in the way Geoff Johns sees best fit. I believe you really never stop learning. May that be in any field or as an actor, any character. They’re constantly evolving and growing, just as a person is.
Cameron first appeared in episode 2. At the time, did you feel like a ‘new guy’ on set? Or was it early enough that you could fit in straight away?
HS: Episode 2 was my first appearance, my little walk by in the cafeteria. You know, I didn’t feel like a new guy because I had been there on set. There was a little moment written in episode 1 that did not make it in. I was around set for episode 1. I got down to Georgia just as early as everybody else. I was at all the table reads and dinners. We were all staying in a similar area. For me, I was actually one of the first down there. Brec and I – Brec Bassinger, who plays Stargirl, I believe her and I were the first two down in Atlanta. I was there from the beginning so I was fortunate I did not feel out of place.
As well as Cameron, there are 2 other male teenage regular characters; Rick Tyler and Henry King, Jr. Did you audition for either of those roles? Or was Cameron Mahkent the only part you went for?
HS: I get asked that question quite a lot and no, I did not. Not in interviews, by people in my life. I did not, I auditioned only for Cameron from the beginning. I’m super happy to be playing Cameron and I think it’s awesome. I think it was perfectly cast with Cameron Gellman playing Rick and Jake Austin Walker playing Henry. I think the casting was flawless and I love the casting team behind Stargirl. They’ve actually turned out to be some of my friends to this day. It was a very surreal experience and it was always Cameron from day one.
Just from a viewer/fan perspective, I can agree with you there. I think the 3 of you are definitely in the right parts.
HS: Thank you. I’m happy to hear that, happy to hear that.
Since Cameron already lived in Blue Valley before the series takes place, have you imagined what his relationship to the other characters had been like, before Courtney arrived?
HS: For me, the other main characters, I’ve made the choice that I do not know them at all. The main characters, Yolanda (Yvette Monreal) and Cindy (Meg DeLacy), we’ve had little to no interaction. I made that choice that best suits my situation. And Joey (Wil Deusner), when I referenced Joey saying he was “such a nice kid”, I only knew him from episode 3 when he pulls out the card trick in front of Courtney. That’s why I referenced him, it’s not like I had much of a past with him.
Really, Cameron hangs out with very little to no one. If anybody, it’s a few of the people in the artsy group. Those were people that didn’t have significant enough roles. I made the choice that some of the people in the artsy group would be my friends but none of the significant characters I built a background for. Depending on what happens in future seasons, I want to leave space for those relationships to be fresh and new.
At the time that we’re conducting this interview, Cameron and Mike Dugan are the last main characters who don’t know about the superhero world. When you were filming, was this frustrating? Or did you like that Cameron was kept in the dark?
HS: I didn’t really have much of an opinion on that. In the moment, it really just feels right. I mean, the storytelling has been pretty flawless, in my opinion. I feel like it builds up the suspense. That’s a very cool aspect because wondering when and if Cameron’s ever going to find out the truth about not only his Dad, not only Courtney but this whole town that he’s in. For me, it wasn’t frustration. It’s just a very cool anticipation, kind of sitting on the edge of your seat, wondering when is this guy going to find out the truth that everybody else knows. It’s just kind of part of the ride and I’m excited to find out what their plans are for that.
Many of your scenes on Stargirl have been with Brec Bassinger and Neil Jackson. Knowing that you’d be working extensively with them, was there a different process of bonding with those actors in real life?
HS: I would definitely say Neil and I and then Brec and I spent some more alone time just really discussing our characters and our emotional relationships to each other as far as the characters go. The whole cast really spent a lot of time together because you’re all working on this project, uprooted, living in a different state. Regardless of if you’re in scenes together, you’re spending a lot of time around one another. But yes, Neil and I definitely had a handful of lunches and hangouts. We’d get together, play pool and relax. I’d go to his place, we’d talk. Really just try to build that father-son bond.
Brec and I definitely hung out as well. She was a part of that core teenage group of actors. I was always with them, regardless. Brec and I would get together and work on our scenes, talk about our characters, definitely get to know each other better. I think spending time with Brec like that and with Neil like that ultimately benefited the project.
When I spoke to Neil Jackson, he discussed how Cameron was ‘everything’ to Jordan in terms of Icicle’s motivations. What are your thoughts on the relationship between Cameron and Jordan?
HS: Well, I think Cameron and Jordan love each other very deeply, regardless of Jordan being a while, on and off, spending the majority of my childhood with my grandparents. I’ve been fortunate not to experience this in my own life but I would assume in some cases that if someone loses a family member, the other remaining family members would either get very close to one another or pretty distant.
You look at Henry King Jr and Sr and in their situation, they became pretty distant. But with Jordan and Cameron, to me, I really got the vibe that they became much closer and they had this bond even though they didn’t see each other. Every time they’re with another or in each other’s presence, there’s so much love and deep connection involved. That may not even necessarily be verbal. I think that was really special. For Cameron, losing his Mom at such a young age… you say how Jordan’s motivation was Cameron. For Cameron, my motivation just in life is really my Mom because she was the one who told me to keep drawing. Those were some of her very last words. Any way you put it, I definitely believe Cameron and Jordan have a very strong bond, regardless of some of their distant interaction.
Other than Stargirl, you also have a lead role in a Disney+ film, with Matthew Glave and your co-star Joe Knezevich, who played The Wizard on Stargirl. How was the experience of shooting that project?
HS: That was an amazing experience that coincidentally happened a week after I wrapped on Stargirl, also in Atlanta. That was such a blast, it was such a different experience from Stargirl. You know, Stargirl is this superhero show and then you go straight into a football film, which has always been one of my dream roles, to join an underdog sports film and that’s exactly what it is. It’s a beautiful, touching true story. It follows Ray McElrathbey and his journey with playing college football and simultaneously raising his younger brother. He has the support of his teammates and everyone around him. When I first read the script, I cried. I’m very honoured to be a part of that. It will be coming out on Disney+, I believe sometime later this year.
No set release date, no official title at the moment. Jay Reeves plays Ray, Corinne Fox, TJ Mixson and myself. It’s a great group of actors. It was just… you know, to go from one amazing project to the other, it was surreal and we built another little family on that project, just as we have built on Stargirl. I’m very excited for that to come out later this year.
Although Stargirl has aired 11 episodes as of this interview, how would you pitch the show to someone who’s hasn’t watched it at all?
HS: Oh, that’d be fun. I actually have to do that, every once in a while. What I say is, “You don’t even have to be into superheroes to like this show. If you want a real story and real characters going through real human emotions, this is the show for you. I think it’s a show for everyone. I’ve experienced that because my Dad was never into superhero shows but he loves Stargirl, completely separately from me being a part of it. It’s really got that small town feel, it’s really for families. Amazing music, great action sequences and the cinematography’s absolutely beautiful. Everything about is is really just a “for everyone” type of project.
I would pitch them on all of it – I’d be going down the line saying, “Hey! If you want to see Luke Wilson do his thing, some awesome action stunts, you got to watch this.” If you want to see some touching, emotional moments, this is the show. It’s also very funny, you got a combination of Luke Wilson and Trae Romano. They make you laugh, they make you smile, the whole package. I think it’s a show for everyone.”
Assuming Cameron Mahkent survives Season 1, where would you like to see him go next?
HS: Ooh, that’s a good question. If Cameron survives Season 1… I think I would like to see his relationships expand more with everyone. I’d like to see his and Jordan’s relationship definitely become even closer and have more conversation together. I would like to see maybe Jordan bringing Cameron in on everything that’s going on, that would be a very cool idea. That would be my main thing, to have Cameron come out of the dark and have Jordan be the one to let him know, “Hey, this is who I am and this is the world we live in. This is why I do this.” And really kind of give Cameron the choice of deciding whether he wants to support his father or not. I think that would be a very cool turn of events.
During the crazy times that the world’s going through, what would you want to say to fans of Stargirl, Cameron Mahkent or you personally?
HS: First thing I would want to say is stay safe and take this time to dedicate yourself to whatever it is that you’re passionate about. That you feel like you usually never have time to get to. May that be picking up a new instrument, writing that novel you’ve always wanted to write or mending that relationship with someone in your life that you’ve been avoiding. If you can, given safety circumstances, really spend time with your family and that’s what I’ve been doing.
I’ve been taking this as an opportunity to really spend time with my family, my dog who’s getting older and things like that. Usually, I wouldn’t have this time. I would be in Los Angeles – working, my classes, filming. Back to my regular life. So, instead of being frustrated about it, I’ve tried to take it as a time of reflection and really just soaking in time with my family that I don’t always get. I would just extend that to everyone else and encourage them to try to look at this as a ‘glass half full’ situation. We’re all going to get through this together.