For those of you wondering what Jensen Ackles‘ next project was going to be, it turns out that he will be moving from one Eric Kripke show to another. Both Ackles and Amazon Prime Video announced Monday that he’ll be joining the cast of “The Boys” in Season 3!
“I keep wondering what I’ll do….when @cw_supernatural finally ends this year,” Ackles wrote on Instagram. “Then it hit me.”
Ackles will portray Soldier Boy aka the original superhero in the streaming drama. After Soldier Boy fought in World War II, he became the first super celebrity and a mainstay of American culture for decades.
“When I was a child, I had a crazy, impossible dream — to provide Jensen Ackles with gainful employment,” said Kripke in a statement. “I’m happy to say that dream has come true. Jensen is an amazing actor, an even better person, smells like warm chocolate chip cookies, and I consider him a brother. As Soldier Boy, the very first superhero, he’ll bring so much humor, pathos, and danger to the role. I can’t wait to be on set with him again, and bring a bit of ‘Supernatural’ to ‘The Boys.’”
UPDATE: The final 7 long-awaited episodes of “Supernatural” will being airing on Thursday, Oct. 8 with a two-hour finale on Thursday, Nov. 19. (Finale special with Series Finale)
If you haven’t been watching Amazon’s “The Boys,” what are you waiting for? The show is a rollercoaster of a ride that’s both fun and strikingly irreverent. “The Boys” follows what happens when superheroes (who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and worshipped like gods) abuse their superpowers instead of using them for good. That sends “the boys”, everyday people who realize what’s going on, on a quest to expose the truth about the superheroes known as “The Seven” and the multi-billion dollar corporation that “manages” and covers up for them, Vought.
“The Boys” is based on the best-selling comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson and was developed by Ennis fan Eric Kripke, who’s showrunner, writer and executive producer. (Kripke is also responsible for my favorite show of all time, “Supernatural,” which explains how I discovered “The Boys” in the first place and explains how over the moon I am about today’s announcement that Jensen Ackles is joining the show!!!!!).
Long time Supernatural director and producer Phil Sgriccia is also along for the wild ride). I binge watched Season 1 of “The Boys” and was thrilled when Season 2 was announced. The first three episodes premiere Friday, September 4, on Prime Video and then new episodes will drop each Friday with the season finale airing on October 9. At last year’s Comic Con in San Diego, I was able to chat with Kripke and some of the cast – this year, in the middle of a pandemic, Amazon put together a virtual press junket so we could hear more about the upcoming Season 2. Kudos to the organizers for coordinating a million zoom calls and ensuring that we all got to spend time with Kripke and the cast – it was an enjoyable afternoon even if we were all juggling curious pets or kids or dealing with technology challenges!
We also got to see the first three episodes, and while I’m going to keep this article free of specific spoilers, let me just say that they were pretty mindblowing! When they say that Season 2 is more intense and more insane than Season 1, they are not kidding.
As we begin Season 2, the Boys are on the run, hunted by the Supes and trying to regroup.
In hiding, Hughie (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) try to adjust to a new normal with Butcher, the father figure of the group, (Karl Urban) nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) must navigate her place in The Seven as Homelander (Antony Starr) sets his sights on taking complete control. His power is threatened with the addition of Stormfront (Aya Cash), a social media savvy new Supe, who has an agenda of her own. On top of that, the Supervillain threat takes center stage and makes waves as Vought seeks to capitalize on the nation’s paranoia. The Supes of The Seven also include Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), The Deep (Chace Crawford) and Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell). Recurring stars include Claudia Doumit, Goran Visnijc, Malcolm Barrett, Colby Minifie, Shantel VanSanten, Cameron Crovetti, Laila Robbins and Giancarlo Esposito returning as Vought boss Stan Edgar.
With that introduction, here are a few excerpts from each of our roundtable chats with Eric Kripke and the cast to whet your appetite for more of “The Boys.” I’ve purposely kept any spoilers for Season 2 out of my coverage, so you can be as gobsmacked as I was by those first three episodes.
It was wonderful to “see” Eric Kripke again, and we shared a nice virtual hello. He was asked how he and the writers find a balance between the very dark side of the show and the very present comedic side of the show. Eric said they try to think about what would be the most stringent reality if something as absurd as superheroes existed in the real world.
Eric: I try to keep from getting too broad with the comedy or too dark even, because the real world is a complicated messy place and if you were to throw superheroes into it, there really would be that kind of violence! Because they’re super strong and they really would be perverts (laughing) because they’d have unlimited access and power. I think that’s been the secret to the tone, because it does take these wild swings from social commentary to crazy dick jokes to really emotional character moments. I think that sort of helps hold it all together.
[He’s right. It’s one of the things that Kripke has always been good at. I was always floored by how Supernatural could be so dark and yet so funny, and at the same time could literally make me cry with the emotional character moments. He brings that to The Boys as well]
Kripke also gave some insight into Season 2 as compared to Season 1, saying that Season 2 is actually pretty stressful for him.
Eric: I walked into Season 2 fairly nervous actually because I was so happy with how Season 1 turned out and hitting that bar is stressful. The writers and I decided early on that the mistake that a lot of second year shows make is that they try to top the first season. Trying to go bigger and bigger every season is kind of unsustainable, so we wanted to try to go deeper. What is the worst position we could put every single character in? So we have Butcher knowing his wife’s out there and he can’t get to her. We have Huey apart from Annie. We wanted to corner all of them, because under that kind of pressure you reveal who you are and you reveal deeper facets of their characters when they’re in really tight spots.
Kripke was also asked if there were any hard lines that the show couldn’t cross of what they can and can’t do from Amazon, which frankly it’s pretty hard to imagine because they do so much!
Eric: No I have to say, they’ve been great. They are putting up with all sorts of insanity from us. They question things, like in Season 1 they were like, does the dolphin really have to ask to be jerked off? And we would say yes, absolutely, it’s really important to the character. There was only one scene in Season 1 that they didn’t want us to show, which involved Homelander masturbating. But I will say, without giving away spoilers, that scene may be making a comeback…I was able to finagle a little sumthin sumthin. But you’ll have to tune in to find out!
I told Eric that one of the things I always appreciate about his shows, as a long time Supernatural fan and someone who has watched all his series, that there are always familiar faces from those other shows and little homages and in jokes. (Supernatural star Jim Beaver, who played Bobby Singer, a character named after real life director Bob Singer, makes an appearance at the end of Season 1 – playing a character named Robert Singer! Is that meta enough??) I wondered if there would be more of that homage, especially as the long-running Supernatural is finally bowing out?
(I was actually already wondering if maybe Jensen Ackles or Jeffrey Dean Morgan might be joining up, but at the time that would have been a BIG spoiler so he didn’t fess up)
Eric: Yeah for sure, there are Easter eggs. Part of it is just because me and Phil Sgriccia, the producer/director of the show, we’re both long timers not just on Supernatural but on Revolution, so we are just inherently putting in little jokes to amuse ourselves. There are little references, like you said, Robert Singer. In episode 8 of Season 2, pay attention to the name of his assistant. We even found a little internet cartoon – I won’t say when it happens – but the Impala makes a short fast cameo, blink if you miss it, but it’s there.
Lynn: Oh I will not miss that!
Eric: To me it’s like, when I find actors I love who are both talented and, just as importantly, good people, I go back to them over and over again. So Giancarlo from Revolution, and I have a lot of my Timeless cast this year – Claudia Doumit, Malcolm Barrett, Goran Visnjic. I love bringing back actors who I love to work with, and it makes it a lot more fun. So yes, there will familiar faces this year.
One of the things that sets The Boys apart is its social commentary. The show blends what it brings in from the comics with current cultural issues.
Eric: I’m a huge fan of the comics, Garth Ennis is the best writer in comics in my opinion. But there’s a lot in the comics, I think he would agree, that’s shocking to be shocking. At the time he wanted to sort of knock the superhero comic on its ass and that was his goal. I had a really clear notion that I did not want to do that. What I wanted to do was take some of those shocking things and modernize them and give them context in the world we’re living in now, because we live in this bizarre world where authoritarianism and celebrity are completely blended. And it turns out that this show happens to hit the sweet spot of talking about the exact moment we’re living in. For instance in Season 1 there was a moment of sexual assault in the comics that was shocking and probably played for shock value and we wanted to make it into a really thoughtful story about trauma and the #MeToo movement and how a character reacts throughout that.
Kripke went on to say that in Season 2 there’s a character who’s very famous from the books that they wanted to use to talk about issues that are happening in the world right now, like xenophobia and white nationalism (Stormfront).
Eric: So part of it is just about wanting to talk about the modern world that we live in and adjusting the comic to what’s happening right now. And then the other part of it is about the characters. Just because it’s streaming, the show is still serialized, and the comic is pretty episodic, so you sort of have to take a different format with it. We really start characters first. That’s always the rule whenever we break a story, we start with where are they emotionally and where do we want them to go and how do we learn something new? Only once we have that locked in do we even start to talk about, oh we can have some political satire here or a bloody moment there. It’s only ever layered on top of the character work, because we’re in TV and TV is the character business. TV shows work when you love characters and don’t work when you don’t. So that’s always the first part.
[This philosophy explains why I fell head over heels for Dean Winchester fifteen years ago and am still watching Supernatural – similarly, the characters in The Boys become more and more fascinating as time goes on and we find out more about their complexity]
One of the things I always love about Eric Kripke’s television shows is the music, which never fails to enrich the show. Eric was asked how involved he was in selecting the music for The Boys.
Eric: I’m super involved in that process. One of the things I really care about is the music in really all my shows. When I was writing Supernatural and certainly this, it’s a lot of long conversations with the editors and talking about the vibe that we want. They’ve learned at this point to rarely pitch a song that was recorded after 1980 (laughs). So they know my sweet spot. And then in terms of the score, Chris Lennertz, the composer who did Supernatural and a bunch of my stuff, we were college friends together, so he was scoring my short films back then and it’s a blast to work with him.
Eric also said that the idea to air episodes weekly for Season 2 came from him and the other producers, who lobbied Amazon to do it.
Eric: We found that in Season 1 there was such an overload of material so quickly that a lot of scenes that we loved and thought would be talked about on social media kind of just weren’t. Because everyone was only talking about the biggest craziest things. So we wanted to slow it down ever so slightly to let each episode land with the fans a little bit more so they could take a little more time obsessing and analyzing it before they moved on. Just because there’s so much crazy in Season 2, so we thought a slightly slower LSD drip felt like the right move for us creatively. We felt it was a little too rich for one binge meal! So we’ll see how it goes.
[In one of my very first chats with Eric now more than a decade ago, I realized that he totally got what being a fan is all about – because he’s a fan too. So when he says let’s give fans time to obsess and analyze, he gets it – because that’s what he likes to do too. It’s stood him in good stead throughout all this television shows]
I’m a psychologist by profession, so I was fascinated by what The Deep and A Train, two of the supes, had to deal with in Season 1. Their struggles made their characters complex and pulled for some empathy even as those two supes did some awful things in the first season.
So I was excited to chat with Chace Crawford (The Deep) and Jessie T. Usher (A Train). How did they move on from some of those things they’ve done in the past?
Jessie: They both have to deal with it, they’re not at a place in their lives when they can just move past things anymore. They both – excuse my language – they fucked up to the point where things can’t be covered up by Vought anymore or swept under the rug. A Train is figuring it out as he goes. It’s too much for him, because he’s kinda turned his back on everyone who had his back, so he’s got to do it alone. You’ll see him figure that out in Season 2.
Chace: I think he’s genuinely close to rock bottom. He doesn’t know who he is, and never really has known who he is. I think he’s broken open enough to have to at least try some self exploration.
Chace said he had really enjoyed seeing all the episodes and seeing everyone else’s work.
Chace: I like doing these crazy scenes.
[All I’m gonna say is Lucy the whale, someone said]
Jessie: (laughing) I have never seen a good idea go bad so fast…
Chace: And it turned out so well! I was like, how is this gonna turn out, this is crazy…
Jessie: That’s the thing about filming this show, you’re like, I don’t know how this is gonna turn out, then you see it and it’s like wow that was freaking amazing! Clearly they saw something that I had yet to see. I’ve been pleasantly surprised throughout this entire Season 2 and I know everyone else will be as well.
The Deep does some serious soul searching in the first episodes of Season 2, which involves some singing and some other….things….which I won’t spoil here. But suffice it to say, I was fascinated by the psychological themes that continue to be explored through both this character and A Train. Both of the characters are going through something that has a real world counterpart. For A Train, it’s sort of an addiction that is playing out with him very realistically and for The Deep we start to find out that he is struggling with his body being different (recall the memorable gill fingering scene in Season 1…), which reminded me a lot of what people go through who have body dysmorphia. I asked them if they were inspired by the real world parallels?
Jessie: Absolutely. The parallels that I made weren’t to the addiction to substance abuse necessarily, but the addiction to power and to fame that I see around me all the time with peers. You see how it tears people apart and tears them down and rips their morals from them because they become addicted to a lifestyle or a status or whatever it is, because they feel like that is who they are. That sense of self that comes from something external like that is really terrible to watch. I’m sure we all know someone who has become addicted to something and that’s not who they are, but there’s literally nothing you can do about it, there’s no convincing them of what we know they’ll find out eventually. A Train is in a place where you kinda have to watch him crash and burn, it’s the only way he’s gonna learn. We see that happen through the course of Season 1 and then we figure out what happens from the ashes in Season 2. It was interesting to play around with that and pull from different places of inspiration and apply them all to this character … a conglomerate of a lot of things I’ve experienced, to make him as complicated as possible.
Chace: For me, you said it right on, the body dysmorphia is what I keyed into. Even in Season 1, because the gills are, in his mind, the source of his complete embarrassment and shame. It’s shrouded in so much shame, he feels like a freak and that’s why he always is trying to overcompensate and assert himself and try to be this alpha type character.
[Without giving anything away, in a pivotal Season 2 scene, Chace said that The Deep confronts those feelings in a scene that is both comedic and heartbreaking, and that he tried to make it both funny and really vulnerable as well. Which he did! Also without spoilers, in Season 2 we see A Train begin to have the things he’s accumulated such as money and status be stripped away.]
Jessie: I knew that when we met A Train that was not who he truly is. The money, the entourage, the status, the way he walks and talks, those are all things I’ve attached to him as dependencies, that you will see get stripped away and then you’ll see who he is at his core.
Jack Quaid (Huey) and Erin Moriarty (Annie/Stargirl) were paired up for a chat next, which meant lots of questions about those two characters’ relationship. Everyone wanted to know, will Annie be able to forgive Huey for lying to her about who he is and what he’s been up to?
Erin: I mean, that’s the biggest question of Season 2. The answer is that I can’t really answer, but I will say that we all know Huey, and we know that despite everything he’s an exceptionally good dude and his moral compass is strongly intact. I would say that in the beginning she’s really resistant and skeptical of trusting him again but as the season progresses it becomes harder and harder for her to deny the solidity of his character, which might enable the trust to come back.
Meanwhile, Huey starts out Season 2 pretty much falling apart.
Jack: I don’t want to give too much away, but what I love about him this season is he’s lost everything at the start and being able to play him building back up was super fascinating. It isn’t just an upward slope, it’s peaks and valleys. Huey in Season 1 was a character who was enmeshed in other characters’ motivations, like Butcher’s crusade against the Supes. This season we’re seeing him come into his own more and ask himself, what do I want out of all this? If Season 1 was him grappling with anxiety, this is about depression, because he lost everything.
In the comics, Huey and Annie eventually end up engaged, so Jack and Erin were asked if the show would follow that trajectory.
Jack: That’s the million dollar question! We take liberties from the comics so I truly don’t know where Eric plans for us to go.
Erin: I have no idea because we try to strike this balance between honoring some of the comic and taking our own liberties. This is all speculation, but I’m pretty confident that if we don’t end up together, I think Annie and Huey would end on a good note that would imply they’d be really good friends forever. The thing about their romance that I love exploring and that makes it so intimate and deep is that they’re also best friends. So either they end up together or as solid best friends who will be connected forever. At this point, they’re pretty bonded
Jack: They have what we call a trauma bond. Hashtag #TraumaBond. They’ve both been through a lot.
I asked Erin about the impact of finding out about her mother’s betrayal on Annie. How did that fuel her anger that she’s now using as a motivator, and how did it impact her ability to trust?
E: I think a lot of Season 2 is her being angry not just heartbroken. Luckily she’s able to use it in a productive way and exert that anger onto Vought and her mission to make the world a better place and take them down. So that anger kind of accumulates and bubbles up in this really hardcore mission. And in addition to being angry, it manifests in the form of self preservation in terms of not letting anyone in. She’s not willing to let Huey in in the beginning so that’s a big impact on their relationship. I think it’s like any other person – she is in this case not very unique – when it comes to people having their hearts broken and their trust shattered by the person they love the most, it affects every single relationship in their life on a deeply profound level. In addition to a direct reason to mistrust Huey, because he did lie to her and break her heart, her mom’s situation just fuels that and makes her even more distant from him and anyone else.
Both Erin and Jack said they were excited for Season 2 because they now had so much backstory for their characters from Season 1 that the relationships between the characters could deepen in Season 2, and they can use what they know to continue to build that characterization.
Karl Urban (Billy Butcher) and Laz Alonso (Mother’s Milk) were the next roundtable pair. Someone noted that family plays a large role in both of their characters’ motivation.
Laz: Yes. MM has chosen his family, he’s chosen The Boys, but he has another family… which family do you really belong to?
Karl: At the end of Season 1, Butcher discovers his wife is alive, so his main agenda is to find her and reunite with her and rescue her. The issue that raises for him is how far is he willing to go to achieve that goal? We saw in Season 1 he was hell bent, driven, obsessed, prepared to do anything, and that didn’t work out too well for him. In Season 2 he’s on a quest – find out who is the main puppeteer of The Seven and how do you take them down?
As Season 2 begins, Butcher has left the Boys, which has a big impact on all of them.
Laz: When we start off Season 2, we’re all in the dark. We don’t know where Butcher is, we don’t know what we’re all doing, we’re almost individuals and no longer a team. What we’re missing is having that mission. In Season 1 we had a clear leader and mission, but that leader is gone. That’s what I felt was the biggest challenge, especially shooting scenes without Karl just didn’t feel right. It felt dark. In the episode where Butcher comes down the steps and uses what I think will be the catch phrase of Season 2, “Daddy’s home”, it reunites us and gives us somewhere to go. I love the fact that family became the focal point because through the dysfunction of our Boys family, we find out the backstory of all the characters.
Both Laz and Karl confirmed that while Eric Kripke was clear about not trying to make Season 2 bigger than Season 1, but instead making it more rich in character development, both believe he did that but he also went bigger as well.
Karl: Season 2 of The Boys is like Season 1 on V compound. Every week we’d be reading a script going Ohmygod I can’t believe we’re actually doing this! And we shot it old school. So in Episode 3 we’re in a speedboat speeding along a lake and jumping waves, and that’s actually us in the boat and driving. We had a helicopter hovering 100 feet in the air filming us and it was like old school big time movie making. I can’t wait for people to see it!
Laz: That boat scene wasn’t written until our hiatus between seasons when Karl was posting all of his boat fishing photos from New Zealand. I have a feeling whatever we post in this hiatus will end up in Season 3!
Karl: I’ll post footage of me driving stupidly fast around a race track and maybe we’ll have a car chase.
[I love the way this cast constantly banters – it’s clear there’s a great deal of camaraderie between all of them]
Both said that we learn more about their characters’ backstories in Season 2.
Karl: We learn more about his backstory and the darker aspects of his character. That hidden element was there long before he met Rebecca, his wife. This season is really about taking the element that’s most important to each character and ripping it away from them and seeing how they deal with it.
Laz: The backstory I’m a part of is actually Frenchie’s, but our stories and our pasts are intricately linked from when we were The Boys before and disbanded. It will answer the questions, why does my character treat Frenchie the way he does? Why am I so hard on him, why do I blame him for so much stuff?
They also talked about the challenge of making sure their characters, who are mere humans, come across as viable threats to the supes.
Karl: It’s in the genius of Kripke’s mind and his overall approach. His vision was he never wanted it to be like a macho mano o mano thing. The boys cannot physically take on the Supes, they’re in a different league. So it forces them to be smarter and to me that’s interesting. What’s even more of a challenge is when you put in the individual character dynamics and flaws – some are unreliable, some are unhinged, some cannot follow directions. You have this dysfunctional group of renegade vigilantes trying to achieve this goal and the thing I love is that they’re always scrambling, always on the back foot and out of their depth. Season 2 takes that to a whole new level.
Laz: What I love, to feed off that, it shows that you don’t need powers to fight back. You may win, you may lose, but as long as we’re united and together, we’re a formidable foe. I think that’s what shows true bravery, when you know you’re outgunned and outmanned but you do it anyway because it’s the right thing to do. That’s what I love about being on this side of our show.
[Shades of Supernatural’s ‘Always Keep Fighting’ mantra!]
One of the things that makes The Boys so unique is how relevant it (unfortunately) feels, holding a mirror up to our own society. We wondered, did that hold true for Season 2 also?
Karl: Arguably even moreso. While our show is set in a heightened reality where we imagine superheroes exist and are realistically imbued with faults and flaws akin to many celebrities in our society, it also gives us the opportunity to explore certain elements of our culture that are a little bit raw and topical. In the first season, there were definite parallels with the MeToo movement and sexual harassment. Season 2 touches on things like corporate corruption and greed, xenophobia, racism…I don’t know how Kripke does it because he wrote this script over a year ago and it’s almost like those issues we happen to be exploring have come to the forefront of modern society.
Laz: We haven’t gone into MM’s backstory yet but there’s a snippet in an episode when he reveals a very personal part of his motivation for being part of the Boys and you would think you were listening to some of the activists who have been marching in the streets this year. No one would think we shot Season 2 a year ago because it’s so timely with what we’ve seen in the last few months.
Next up were Antony Starr (Homelander) and new addition Aya Cash (Stormfront). How does Stormfront shake things up for The Seven?
Antony laughed and said that Homelander has been comfortable being at the top of the food chain, sort of like the mother and the father and the Seven are like his little kids, and then this new person comes along who really challenges that.
Antony: She keeps him on his toes. I think it’s fair to say she keeps every member of the Seven on their toes, she does not stop at Homelander in fucking with people, it’s pretty much The Seven, watch out!
Aya: I think she’s there to shake things up, from the social media perspective and the transition from traditional media into online and her talents there. I think that’s part of why she’s been brought in. She has very specific ideas about what should happen with the Seven and aspirations to lead, so she’s coming for Homelander a little bit. I think in her mind either she gets him on her side or he’s out! (laughing)
Antony: Or … she’s out!
Aya: We’ll see…
So, who’s the bigger psychopath?
They both laughed delightedly.
Antony: They’re both pretty psycho!
Aya: The reason I think Stormfront is a bigger psycho is that Homelander is coming from a selfish view. He’s doing bad to protect himself, so he does what’s best for him. Stormfront is thinking more globally and is less about self protection and more about the world. So, psycho!
Antony: So megalomania or narcissim?
Someone suggested their relationship was like petulant child versus arrogant teenager.
Antony: Who’s who?
Aya: You’re the petulant child, sweetie.
I suggested that Homelander seems like the poster child for what happens when there’s severe maternal deprivation (which we see playing out in Season 2 in quite….disturbing…ways). That gives him a vulnerability, and I wondered if he was aware of that.
Antony: It’s a vulnerability, you’re right, but I don’t know if he’s conscious of it. It’s definitely there to be exploited. It’s really about connection in general, because the deprivation he received wasn’t just from his mother, it was from everyone. He had a semi father figure sort of but that was a scientist. We saw frames of little Homelander alone with a little rag, so it’s not just about mummy, it’s mummy daddy sister brother friends everyone, a complete social isolation. And that is definitely a vulnerability that someone — oh I don’t know, like Stormfront — if they so desire could exploit.
Aya: The difference is that Stormfront is not interested in being his mommy. She might be interested in lifting him up and making him a better version of himself though, more like, I know you’re my equal and you better step up and be that.
Stormfront in the comics is male, but in the television show, she’s female.
Aya: The gender swap is done with intention. Because the comics are a good jumping off point, but written a while ago, and for our current moment, what we see is that there is darkness hidden in cute sweet very palatable packages and I think that having a woman come in and bring that was an exciting way to talk about the issues. I think also it’s always fun to see a badass woman come in and match the badass male. When you’re interacting with a woman coming at you versus a man, it’s a different kind of interaction.
Karen Fukuhara (Kimiko) and Tomer Capon (Frenchie) also made for a good pairing for our discussion. We wondered how their characters’ relationship evolves as we head into Season 2?
Karen: We see Kimiko become more a part of the Boys. They’ve all been living in this dingy location without a shower so they’ve created this bond. And then it progresses into something more. Deeper. Special.
Tomer: We’re on the run, hiding, and that puts them in a new kind of situation where they have to figure out how to survive. But during that time, they really figure out how to grow even more than what they were in Season 1. I think we’re going to find out about Frenchie this season that maybe he’s not into “getting the girl”. Frenchie is a free spirit and we get a glimpse of that in Season 2. He loves everybody, every kind, and it turns out that his relationship with Kimiko is so spiritual, it’s beyond the romantic. There’s a lot that goes on between those two in Season 2.
[I personally found this answer really intriguing and cannot wait to find out more!]
I asked Karen about the fact that Kimiko doesn’t speak, wondering if it’s because of her trauma and if it had occurred to Karen that it has a real life corollary in selective mutism?
Karen: That’s such an awesome question. That’s been something up for discussion from the beginning. It’s the big question, why can’t she speak? Is it genetic, is it trauma related? I love that Season 2 tackles that and makes it clearer. I did a lot of research after getting the script and speaking with Eric about it, about why she lost that ability, and childhood trauma is a huge thing that plays into it. I had a coach that gave me perspective, not about exactly selective mutism, but that world, and speaking with her has helped me immensely.
Karen went on to say that she got a lot of questions in Season 1 about how it felt to be an Asian character who is mute because that’s a stereotype in many forms of media.
Karen: In Season 1 and even more in Season 2, Eric has given Kimiko an important story line. At the core, she’s kinda the catapult, the one giving the Boys hope. Everyone has their own reason why they’re in the Boys, but in terms of plotline, she has a huge part. She’s not a throwaway character, which is something I take note of when reading a script. I love that Kimiko has a will of her own and as much as she’s mute, she still holds her ground and does what she wants. I like that.
Tomer said that when he read Frenchie, he saw a teenager in front of him, and that it was all about trauma and running away from yourself and what was done to him by his father. He struggles with Kimiko’s evolution in Season 2.
Tomer: He sees himself in her, to get a chance to grow bigger from that. But then Season 2 comes and Kimiko grows up so fast. She becomes like this woman and I think he doesn’t know how to say goodbye to the teenager he is and accept the woman she’s becoming.
Sounds like it’s going to be an interesting evolution for both characters!
Finally, we chatted with Giancarlo Esposito (Stan Edgar), who had just been nominated for an Emmy. Without spoiling the scene, there’s a confrontation between Edgar and Homelander in Season 2 which made for some very powerful moments.
Giancarlo: I adore Antony, and he does genius work. What I love is that he’s a connected actor. In the moments we have when we connect, we have formidable scenes. Edgar is certainly becoming a character that we want to know better, and that’s interesting to me…. Homelander is a dangerous guy but there’s no way that Stan Edgar is afraid of him. Homelander reminds me of a guy we have in office in our country right now. He needs love, he wants to be liked, he has self esteem issues… I look at these superheroes and they’re all fallible, so Stan can manipulate and maneuver them.
I asked Giancarlo how he, as an actor, conveyed Edgar’s power in that scene, which comes across clearly even though he speaks quietly and appears very calm. Is that mostly choices he makes or was it something dictated to him?
Giancarlo: The choices were mine. I felt as if someone who’s powerful doesn’t have to put it on display. They obviously have to know everything that’s going on, which Stan does. And they have to make decisions about what’s right for the company and for the characters. This is like a theme park in a way. There’s a display of what the public needs to see from the heroes they’re invested in, which Stan respects. For me, it was not only to be soft spoken but to be a very clear communicator. Stan has a lot of information and he represents the company in an upstanding business like way, so part of that is to be understanding and maybe even have a little compassion for the pain that some of my associates may be reeling from. Maybe I show a little of that so you can see he is not just the lone and sole dictator but there’s something behind him. I always want to think there’s some power behind Stan that enables me to be the person who runs the personalities and emotions and the economics and morality of a company. But there’s big stuff here connected to your question which we’re going to find out little by little and I think it will be very exciting. I adore this character for the subtleties I’m able to bring to him. Kripke saw me doing that from the very first scene and they get a chance to watch me do it over and over again, and they go whoa, he just did something. I get inspired by what they write and figuring out how to play against a guy with power and they get inspired by what I do to bring out some of Stan’s humanity. And I think this is what makes a fantastic character.
Me: I so agree and you do it beautifully. Thank you so much.
After chatting with Kripke and the cast and watching some of Season 2, I am even more excited to see the rest of the season and find out more about these characters. The eight-episode Amazon Original series premieres on September 4 exclusively on Prime Video. Don’t miss it!
With Jensen Ackles now on board too, I’m going to be glued to my TV for Season 2 and anticipating Season 3 more than I can even put into words!
“The Boys” Season 2 trailer:
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