Stargirl's Dragon King Actor Talks Cindy, Bobbie And Why He Wishes His Makeup Was Shown More

dragon king in lair
(Image credit: dc universe press)

Stargirl has delivered an entire supervillain team's worth of baddies across its first season, but perhaps none have been as enjoyably mysterious as Dragon King, the alter ego of Dr. Shiro Ito. Some of the big questions regarding Dragon King's history have been revealed, as far as what his big machine is meant to do, and when he first disappeared, but some are hopefully yet to be answered in the Season 1 finale and beyond.

Stargirl's Nelson Lee was awesome enough to answer several questions for CinemaBlend via email, and he shed a bit more light on a couple of Dragon King's personal relationships, while also sharing some details about that excellent moment where the villain's mask finally came off. Check out what he told us below.

stargirl cindy angry

Dragon King's Relationship With Cindy / Shiv

Stargirl had already made it clear that teenager Cindy Burman's relationship with her centuries-old monster father was as non-traditional as it gets, which has been proven further by Cindy being locked up in a cell for several episodes in a row. It would appear that Dragon King no longer sees his daughter as just Cindy (assuming he ever fully did), and has planted her Shiv personality into that balance. I asked Nelson Lee if Dr. Ito saw Cindy as more of a daughter or a protégé at this point, and here's how he answered:

I think it’s both; he absolutely regards Cindy as his daughter but within the emotional limits available to Dragon King. He said himself in earlier episodes that Cindy was his greatest experiment. That’s his version of, 'I love you.' His version of fatherly love is far more removed and scientific than a traditional father-daughter relationship. Which is why he also sees his daughter as a protégé, as a living experiment to achieve greatness in human form. There’s not a lot of hugging going on in their relationship.

Cindy definitely isn't pleased with her father for keeping her a prisoner for so long. So if he truly sees her as the heir to his supervillain throne, then he had better watch his back whenever she does get free, amirite? Perhaps Cindy's true colors will transcend whatever the characters' twisted dynamic has turned into, and she'll be looking to take down more than just the Justice Society.

WTF Is Up Bobbie Burman And Cindy's Real Mom?

In the scheme of things, I realize that of Stargirl's many characters with enigmatic pasts, the story behind the death of Cindy's mom probably isn't topping off the list. And that Bobbie Burman's backstory is likely more of a quirky detail than an outright mystery. But because Geoff Johns' series has been so explicit about laying out other characters' story details, I can't help but be extremely curious about both Cindy's past and present home life. I asked Nelson Lee if Bobbie was 100% a human of sound mind, knowing that wouldn't be the case, and here's how he put it:

I can neither confirm nor deny that Bobbie Burman is 100% human. But what I can confirm is that she is not of sound mind. I 'created' her to be a caretaker for my daughter above-ground, and to complete the illusion of normality for Cindy’s life. Where I found her and what really happened to her true mother is something you’ll all have to wait to find out.

One can probably assume that Bobbie Burman was recruited into Dragon King's ranks as a far different kind of minion than the hooded henchman that populate his underground lair. But it's not clear what her story was before that recruitment (as well the significance of her sexual advance on Pat), nor if she had anything to do with Cindy's life before being forced into it at whatever point in the aftermath of the mysterious mother's death.

dragon king's unmasked face on stargirl tv show

Dragon King's Gnarly Makeup

Having spent more than half the season hidden beneath a super-bulky costume that covered everything but his eyes, Nelson Lee finally got to show audiences Dragon King's unmasked look in the tumultuous Episode 10. Suffice to say, the makeup's super-brief appearance on screen was one of Stargirl's most striking practical effects so far, and it made the villain all the more intimidating. (Even though he basically got his ass whupped in order for it to happen.) I asked Nelson Lee about the origins of Dragon King's true appearance, and he answered by saying the following:

Any comic book lovers who were familiar with Dragon King, especially in relation to Stargirl, were expecting to see a Lizard/Man hybrid underneath the mask. That appearance was the result of many decades of self-experimentation to imbue himself with powers of regeneration and longevity. That’s why Dr. Ito is 100 Years old and very hard to kill. You wanna make an omelette, sometimes you gotta break some eggs. . . . The entire make-up team was just phenomenal. They are truly talented artists who conjured up this terrifying look for Dragon King unmasked. We went through a few generations before landing on the final product that you saw in Episode 10. Honestly, I wish they could have shown it just a little longer since it was so rad and gnarly and since it took about 5 hours to get on. But in the end, it was so worth every minute in the chair, and I couldn’t have been happier with what they were able to create. They do all the heavy lifting. I just sit there.

I'm sure all viewers would agree that Dragon King's lizard-look was as cool and distinct as costume makeup gets in DC superhero shows – maybe not quite as detailed as Swamp Thing's look, but certainly in the same ballpark – and it's almost a crime that it only stayed clearly visible for a second or two before more chaos ensued. If several different people put five hours of work into applying that makeup, not to mention the clean-up process, then it should have appeared for longer than a sneeze's worth of screen time. Below, Nelson Lee gives his stunt double props and talks about finally getting to bring Dragon King into an action sequence for Episode 10.

We had discussed his face reveal from the beginning, so it was always this moment on the horizon we were looking forward to. And in general, by Episode 10 there has been so much building up with regards to Project New America, there’s so much tension it was so fun to finally let Dragon King off the leash and go toe to toe against Stargirl. That battle sequence was so cool and so much fun to put together. My amazing stunt double Kenny Waymack Jr. deserves all the credit for it…he made me look like an absolute beast. It’s not easy moving in that costume, let me tell you.

Hopefully we'll get to see more of Dragon King's face in the finale or in the already confirmed Season 2. Or if not that, then maybe that makeup process will get its own special feature for Season 1's Blu-ray/DVD set. Everyone keep your non-lizard fingers crossed.

All episodes from Stargirl Season 1 are available to stream on DC Universe, with the finale debuting on the streaming service on Monday, as well as on The CW on Tuesday evening at 8:00 p.m. ET. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more Stargirl coverage tied to both the finale and the show's presence for DC's FanDome event. Until then, check out our Fall 2020 TV schedule to see what new and returning shows are premiering after the DC heroine's debut season is finished.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.