From showrunner Eric Kripke and based on the best-selling comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, the eight-episode Amazon Prime Video original series The Boys is an irreverent look at what happens when the popular and influential superheroes abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good, and often need someone to cover up all of their dirty deeds and secrets for them. But when Hughie (Jack Quaid) suffers a devastating loss as a result of one Supe’s recklessness, he becomes so outraged that he teams up with Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and The Boys, in order to seek out their own brand of vigilante justice.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, executive producer/writer/finale director Eric Kripke talked about how he came to be doing this TV series, being a fan of Garth Ennis’ work, why eight episodes was a good number per season, his own filthy sense of humor, tackling some of the more delicate subject matter, what Dan Trachtenberg brought to the first episode to establish the series, and how he came to direct the season finale. He also talked about how it feels to have Supernatural (which was heavily influenced by the work of Garth Ennis) reach 15 seasons, before all is finally said and done, and what it means to know how much good that show and its fans have put out into the world. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: How did you come to be the person tackling this crazy material? Was it something that you were in pursuit of, or did someone suggest it to you?
ERIC KRIPKE: I’m a huge Garth Ennis fan. I’m a big fan of everything the guy writes. A lot of his work on Hellblazer and Preacher were very influential on Supernatural. There’s a gun in Preacher that can kill anything, that became a version of our Colt (in Supernatural). There’s a lot that I ripped off of Preacher, the comic, when I was making Supernatural. And so, when I found out that (executive producers) Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Neal Moritz were making a television show out of Preacher, they didn’t know me and they had no reason to have picked me, but I was still so pissed that they picked somebody else, besides me, to do that show because my favorite comics, of all time, were basically Preacher, The Boys, Sandman, and one or two others. So, I had a meeting at Neal Moritz’s company, and I sat down, for no other reason than to say, “Hey, screw you guys! I can’t believe you gave Preacher to somebody else.” And I sat down and they were like, “Hey, how are you doing, Eric?” “I’m good. How are you?” “Good. So, what’s up?” And I said, “I just wanted to say, screw you for giving Preacher to somebody else.” And they said, “We didn’t know you were into Preacher.” I was like, “I’m the single biggest fan of Preacher. I should’ve done it!” And they said, “Well, we have The Boys. Do you want The Boys? I was like, “Yeah, totally. That’d be great!” And that was it. Seth and Evan were already circling The Boys, at the same time because they were getting really familiar with how to adapt Garth’s work, which is so out there and insane and innovative, and how to get that to the screen. And so, the three of us met and we all, ultimately, clicked immediately’ cause we’re all just Garth Ennis fanboys, and then, we just started kicking around how to make this show.
What’s it like to go from being such a fan of Garth Ennis’ material to sitting across from him and talking to him?
KRIPKE: It’s hard. I always say, I never come at this business like somebody who’s cool. I’m really not cool. I’m a fan. And so, the first time I meet Karl Urban, and I need to like swallow my shit and be like, “I’m a professional. It’s nice to meet you, Karl Urban.” And the first time I meet Elisabeth Shue, I have to like not get out about The Karate Kid. I find myself trying to hold my shit together. I’ve spent a lot of my career, just trying to hold my shit together. And so, when I met Garth, who’s literally my all-time favorite comic book writer, and I was just sitting across from him and chatting about how to do the show, I was just pretending to be like, “I’m supposed to be here. Totally! I’m not a fraud, at all. It’s very natural that I’m here talking to Garth Ennis about how to do this show. I’ve spent a lot of time with the expression, “Fake it ‘til you make it.”
It seems like, if you’re in it, eight episodes probably feels like a lot to get through and survive and get to the other side of, but it’s also not that many episodes, compared to some shows. Have you thought a lot about what you could continue to do with this material? Have you thought quite a bit about what you’ll do, beyond this season?
KRIPKE: Yes, definitely. I come from Supernatural, where we were doing 22 episodes a year, for years and years and years. So, believe me, anyone who says eight episodes is a lot, is a whiner. It takes a lot of time and effort, and it does, in its own way, take as much time ‘cause you just have to focus on those stories, but it’s all good. It’s just about like continually layering them, and making them more complicated, and working on the production value, and making sure that it really feels like a movie. But I’ll take eight episodes a year, for the rest of my life, and be happy. That is a very civilized way to be a showrunner, when only doing eight episodes a year. Yes, we’ve had a lot of conversation about what Season 2 would be, and hopefully we’ll get there and beyond. What’s really great about eight episodes – and I think we did it well in Season 1 – is that it’s enough episodes to tell a complicated story, but you can really move it forward. When you’re doing 22, you have so many filler episodes, just by necessity. You just have so many things where not much happens. In this show, it was so refreshing to, in every single episode, have the ball really move forward. Even as you’re beginning, you can see the end in sight, so you can craft a really coherent story, and you can drop in clues, in Episode 1 or 2, that don’t pay off until Episode 7 or 8 because you have the time to do them all, before you shoot. I think people are gonna find a really fast moving, but well-crafted a story. And yes, we’re already thinking about how we can improve upon that in Season 2.