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 (which has already been picked up for a second season) 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, actor Antony Starr (who plays Homelander, one of the superheroes that makes up The Seven) talked about what interested him in The Boys, working with so many different creative voices on the series, the collaborative experience of having Eric Kripke as their showrunner, how they’ve adapted the source material for television, wearing the superhero costume, what Homelander thinks of The Seven, and the craziest thing he’s had to do for the show.
Collider: This is definitely not the kind of character that you come across every day, or even ever, when you’re reading scripts. When this project first came your way, what were you told about the show and the character, and what was your reaction to all of this?
ANTONY STARR: I was shooting something else, actually, and the opportunity to do a tape came up. Once I read the material and saw the people involved, it spiked my interest. I was pretty skeptical that I would land a role like this because he’s a big muscular dude, and I’m just an average man. But it all went well and they cast me, bleached my hair, and turned me into this warped, inverted Superman. It was fantastic. They’re a really great bunch of people. The part is exceptional and the production team is exceptional. Eric Kripke, who’s the god of the show, is fantastic. He’s a great leader. It’s really been an exceptional ride, thus far.
You’ve had some pretty great directors on this show, too. What’s it been like to also work with those creative voices?
STARR: Well, it’s amazing. It’s difficult, in some ways, because it’s basically a director of the week. A person comes in and you get to know them very quickly to develop the shorthand. You have to be able to communicate really effectively, really quickly because it moves really quick. We had a great bunch of directors that came in that were really proficient and really experienced, so that process was sped up and very smooth. I just loved meeting these different people and seeing their creative takes on the characters. Especially in Season 1, I don’t want to get set into what my character does. You cut yourself off of a lot of opportunity, if you think that way. When you’ve got great minds around you, it’s better just shut your mouth and listen, and take ideas and offer ideas. It’s been a truly collaborative process, which has been wonderful.
Hearing how passionate he is and how much he loves the show, it’s cool that Eric Kripke also got to direct the season finale.
STARR: Oh, my god, yeah. There’s nobody working harder on this show than Eric, and it’s his baby. We’re extremely lucky. I’ve been in situations where I haven’t been so fortunate, and that’s really helped me appreciate what I’ve got now. You don’t often get a leader who is talented and so open, collaborative, genuine, willing to fight for his ideas, and who’s protective of the material and the cast. He’s a special guy, and we’re very lucky to have him.
At what point did the realization set in that you’d have to go to work and dress up like a superhero, and that you’d pretty much be wearing this outfit for most of the show?
STARR: You mean all of the show. I love the outfit. We had a great costume designer, LJ Shannon. She’s bulletproof. She came up with these fantastic outfits that ergonomically are really great and really functional. It’s been a process of evolution, through the season, refining the suits, and finding out what works and what doesn’t. There’s a lot of latex, and body shapes adjust, when you lose and gain weight. It’s definitely been fun. Watching her put the suit together, which has the eagle shoulders and this very military feel, with the military boots, I’ve always looked at the suit as more like a suit of armor. It wears like that, and it looks and feels like that. It’s worn in, and it doesn’t look like a brand spanking new outfit, every time. That’s a reflection of the tone of the tone of the show. The show is gritty, the world is gritty, and it’s a little bit more grounded, in something like reality.
How deeply did you check out the comics and really get a feel for where all of this could go, and when did you realize that the comics were so wild that the show was actually going to have to be a bit of a toned-down version of the material?
STARR: I realized that, as soon as I read the first comic. It’s pretty extreme. We’re taking a bit of license to trim here and there, with things that you can’t really put on screen, but the core ideas and core characters are fantastic. It’s a really fantastically well-imagined show, in its creation. We’ve been lucky to have such great source material, that can go in so many different directions, and to have this creative team on board, as well. The writing team, with Eric, navigates which pieces in the comic they can keep and make work, and the pieces that maybe that push to far. And Garth Ennis, the writer of the comic, has been extremely open to all of that. He’s been really accessible and not precious, at all, which helps. If he was fighting for everything to be exactly the same man, I think there would be problems. Ultimately, we want to show that can be watched. I think they’ve made really smart choices on leaving enough in there to keep it edgy and fresh and unlike any other show that’s out there, while making it accessible to a wide range of people.