Neighbors can range from really helpful to really evil. On star girl, there’s the Crocks — Blue Valley gym owner Lawrence “Crusher” (Neil Hopkins) and his wife, gym trainer Paula (Joy Osmanski) — who moved next door to Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) and his family. The duo behave normally in public but are infamously known as former members of the Injustice Society of America, Sportsmaster and Tigress. Along with their daughter, Artemis, the three fought and attempted to assassinate the Justice Society of America numerous times.
However, after defeating Eclipso, they seek redemption – or so it seems. Osmanski recently spoke with CBR about Paula’s motivations, the possibility of redemption, and the secrets of her character.
CBR: When you heard that Season 3 would delve more into the public personas of Tigress and Sportsmaster, what was your reaction?
Joy Osmansky: I may have screamed. I’m not cool. I’ve never been cool. I probably did a lot of high pitched sounds. Geoff Johns told us early on that this was where he hoped to win. When we found out it was really happening I was so excited and honestly because I work more with Amy Smart, who I love, I was really happy to hear it.
Between being both a badass and a doting mother, do you ever feel like you’re portraying two different characters?
Honestly no. No way. I think anyone who’s a parent, and I guess moms in particular will say, “Yeah, sure. I’m a badass superhero and a mother. Those things are inexplicably linked.” For me as a parent, earlier today, on my own, I said out loud, “I’m killing him today.” You have to give yourself a high-five. For me, it’s a natural choice.
Sportsmaster, Tigress and Artemis move in next door to the Whitmores, which is a recipe for disaster. What kind of neighbors do they make?
Intrusive. No borders. Maybe why locks were invented. If this behavior came from one of my neighbors, we would all call law enforcement. They just don’t see the need for social niceties. A lock wouldn’t stop them anyway. They would still come in. I think it’s so funny that their idea of a greater good is to impose extreme health on others and that the end absolutely justifies the means.
Tigress’s past is littered with a long list of bad deeds. How does Paula feel about turning over a new leaf?
She might equate it to doing an exercise move she’s never done before but feels pretty confident she’ll be able to accomplish…but it’s squeaky. There is no experience. There is no practice here. I think she feels the past is the past. It is done. Whatever is done, it’s over. She doesn’t think about it for a second. As for finding a new way to behave, it’s weird. It’s like she’s seen people do it in a lab. She doesn’t know how to act in real life.
It doesn’t seem to be easy for Paula. You can see it in his expressions. It’s almost like it’s painful.
Yeah, I remember when I got the script and saw that I had to say the words “German Chocolate Cake” would be the worst thing for Paula. It was really fun to find the language and the movement to really understand how uncomfortable she is, how out of her element she really is.
Barbara and Paula are real enemies. What was fun playing that dynamic?
It’s so simple. Amy and I are good friends. She is such a generous and talented actress. Working with her, our scenes are like recreation. I have to be aware of the fact that we are working. We’ve both been in it for so long. We are both pros. We’re just having such a good time. It’s so much fun to be able to play and exploit the hardware with her. The friend part is easy. The enemy part is fun because the writing is there and supports it. We laugh so much.
Paula smiles more now. She cooks. She joined the Blue Valley Rotary Club, but she can kill you in the blink of an eye. What’s it like walking a tightrope between threatening/dangerous and normal?
It’s the most fun tension ever. You are right. There is this pure and simple appearance of joining society and integrating. Then there’s this secret that she holds, that she’s totally deadly. It’s a really fun thing to pretend, and I like doing it. It’s an undercurrent that can flow through all interactions for Paula. It’s something she always has in her back pocket. If the Rotary club doesn’t work, she’ll go commit homicide and be back to normal.
Tigress and Sportsmaster train their daughter so she can follow in their footsteps. Why is it important to Paula that Artemis now joins the JSA?
Like any parent, she wants her daughter to be accepted. It’s the good guys club. It’s the clique that seems to be a positive point. It’s the one to which the neighbor’s daughter belongs. Paula wants her child to be able to reflect that. Everything is driven by love for Artemis. Whatever they do is to equip and support her, so it doesn’t surprise me that they want her to be part of the JSA… even if it’s literally hard to say out loud .
This mother/daughter bond should be something you could hold on to since you are also a parent.
Oh yes, 100 percent. I was so grateful for my own experiences as a parent. You absolutely can play a parent if you’re not a parent, but it gave me so many direct ideas on how to approach this character, especially because she’s not a parent anyone should imitate. It’s like, “How do I find a way to spin this for myself, that I can understand why a mother would go that far for her child?” And it’s really not hard to get.
It’s definitely not Mrs. Cleaver.
Noooo, but you know Mrs. Cleaver had some tricks up her sleeve that she never told anyone because she’s a mom. You know she did.
What do you expect viewers to see in the next block of episodes?
I am delighted, of course, to solve the mystery. I’m very excited to see what’s happening with Starman – the fact that he’s back and struggling too. We have these parallel tracks. He tries to find his place. We try to find our place. We disagree with each other, and yet we are more alike than we think. Again, it’s fun to watch these super capable people wade through.
When you received the Season 1 storyline depicting Gambler’s murder, did you ever suspect Tigress and her family of being responsible?
I was like, “Oh, please, God no. No, no, no, please. Please let us move on.” We had many reasons for wanting him out, but I really wanted their efforts to be sincere. For a second, however, I was like, “Oh my God, no.” Then it went well.
Sell us a little. Who would win in a fight, Tigress or her beloved husband, Sportsmaster?
I’ll say Tigress. When leaned against the wall, she will fight her way through…no matter what. I sense there’s a cruelty and efficiency to her, like when she killed the principal. I remember reading this and being like, “Oh my god. There’s not even a discussion. Alright.” She’s just really quick and she’ll do whatever it takes. I hope it doesn’t come to this with her husband, but he has to be the one who survives.
This season of Stargirl is full of secrets, and the old adage asks if a leopard can change its spots. At the end of the second episode, Crusher says, “It’s only a matter of time before they find out.” Paula replied, “I know.” What did you think of this scene?
Just that they can only run so far, and, really, all they’ve done is run right past it. That’s the big frustration of the characters, and I think without that, who cares? They must have something catching up with them. Otherwise, nothing is worth moving forward and trying to change. I was like, “Yeah, shit. Of course, this will catch up to them.” But maybe the stains can just be hidden under a hoodie for a little while.
Stargirl airs Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. on The CW.