[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for The Boys, Season 2, Episode 5, “We Gotta Go Now.”]
Amazon’s The Boys exists in an alternate universe where the primary difference is that superheroes are real (and a lot of them are real dicks). One consequence of that premise is that the superheroes we love in our reality don’t exist — meaning there are no Marvel or DC heroes for us to worship on-screen.
That’s right, they’ve never even heard of the Snyder Cut — but Joss Whedon still exists, as we learn in Season 2, Episode 5, “We Gotta Go Now,” when his name gets casually mentioned by Homelander (Antony Starr) on the set of the new film starring the “Seven.” It’s just one of the inside Hollywood touches that creator Eric Kripke loves including in the show — as he reveals below, he’s never afraid of making the show too insider for viewers to understand.
Even if the audience isn’t paying attention to those background details, the episode still is a significant one for the season as a whole, with Maeve’s (Dominique McElligott) sexuality becoming a public (and corporatized) part of her persona, and Homelander and Stormfront (Aya Cash) engaging in one of the show’s wildest sex scenes to date. Oh, and how did that cameo by J.J. Abrams‘ BFF Greg Grunberg happen? Keep reading to find out.
Collider: So let’s start with a small aside that you casually drop in while they’re filming Dawn of the Seven — the “Joss rewrite.”
KRIPKE: Right. Yeah, “that Joss rewrite really sings.” Yeah. We weren’t making any particular comment. I have no particular opinion on any version of any cut of any superhero movie. It’s just more that Joss is the most well-known name of a guy who writes and rewrites superhero movies. And so, we tipped our hat to Joss Whedon. I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan. Buffy‘s one of the best shows ever made.
It speaks to the fact that for legitimately decades, he had a reputation as a writer of strong female heroes — he’d be the guy you’d call in for this rewrite.
KRIPKE: Right. Exactly.
But I want to ask about what it speaks to in a larger sense — one of the things I really enjoy about the show, as someone who’s been covering entertainment for a while, is how nitty-gritty you get with some of these details. And I wonder what are the conversations like around making sure that things don’t get too insider?
KRIPKE: There really aren’t any, because, to me, there’s no such thing as too inside. I think what gives the show a reality is the deep dive into how this stuff really works. I push everybody the other way. I’m like, “That’s not what a PA would really say in the background when you’re getting ready to roll. You have to be the most inside-baseball accurate of how this goes.” Because I just love that.
If you listen, it’s actually like a shockingly real depiction of how a real movie set works. That’s what I love about it. Like, “Hey, will you play that back, Marty?” Like Marty was our real playback guy who was back there. If you listen to all the crowd sounds in the back, they’re always very specific things that people really say on movie sets, the way the director kind of glad-hands A-Train, as our directors talk to actors. And then everyone’s buying each other food trucks all the time. It’s all very accurate, and I love that. I think the audience, I think they just sense that, even if they don’t entirely understand the lingo, they buy the authenticity of it. So the more, the better.
I’m so glad you brought up the food trucks, because the Vietnamese crepes feel like such a perfect detail. Have you actually had Vietnamese crepes?
KRIPKE: My guess is, if I remember correctly, Ellie Monahan wrote the script and did an amazing job. If I remember correctly, the Vietnamese crepes were a pitch from Rebecca Sonnenshine, one of our executive producers, and I think she just called it out. And we’re like, “Oh yeah, there’s a food truck.” And she’s like, “A Vietnamese gluten-free crepe truck.” And I just laughed, because the specificity of that is so good. That’s what Ellie put in the script.
But the sad truth is, now I want to try Vietnamese crepes.
KRIPKE: I hear they’re great.
Another perfect superhero film detail is the casting of Greg Grunberg. Talk to me a little bit about bringing him in and also very specifically, the credit of, “As Himself as Agent Bill Pearson.”
KRIPKE: Yeah, I think the post guys came up with [the credit]. That was just really funny. We wanted a star for that part to kind of come out and show the reality of that they’re making a big-budget movie. And so, there’s not just like an unknown actor in that part, you play the credibility of, “Oh, wow. Yeah. They’re casting big people in this movie.”
Greg, I follow him on Twitter, and I knew he was a fan of the show. And usually, the first people we try to go out to for cameos are people that we know are fans, rather than like, “Who’s this? And no.” So I reached out to him and he wanted to it, which I’m eternally grateful for.
And so, like one, he does a hilarious job in that part. And two, I kind of love the meta-commentary of like, he pops up in every huge movie. And so, I sort of love that the Greg Grunberg in that universe, like would of course pop-up in the VCU movies, because he pops up in every huge movie. So I love it for that as well.
Another thing that becomes a bigger issue in this episode is, of course, Maeve’s sexuality. Talk to me about the scene where the writers pitch her and Elena on, you know, basically, “Here’s how you have to be, if you want to be gay in public.”
KRIPKE: Exactly. I think you hit the nail on the head. I mean, so many of these companies have this performative woke-ness, because I think they’re starting to sense that it helps their bottom line. But it feels, to me anyway, fake, and they’re not really concerned with people or really pushing for any substantial change. It’s like with capitalism, got to love capitalism. But capitalism, it’s just another marketing slogan. And so, for them to take this really fraught journey that this character is on and try to boil it down to an advertising campaign feels very on-brand for a lot of corporations, not just bought.
Even as coming out as a gay woman, you know, the point the show makes is she’s like, well, you know, she’s bisexual, right? And Ashley’s like, “Well, lesbians, more cut-and-dry.” Because the company just wants to overlook any of the intricacies and complexities of it, and they want her to fit a role. “Okay, we need you to be feminine. We need Elena to be a little more masculine, because that’s what people like.” Just trying to fit them into these really artificial roles that will ultimately maximize the amount of money they can make off it rather than actually trying to provide any meaningful support.
Finally, with that last sequence, was that a situation where you’ve been dying to do this for so long and it’s finally like, “We’re going to go for it, guys”?
KRIPKE: Yeah, no. I mean, once we knew the storyline and the twist that ultimately, Stormfront and Homelander were going to end up together, that was always a big tent-pole scene we were going to go for. So no, we were excited to pull it off.
It was really complicated, because you come up with stuff in the writers’ room, but at the end of the day, it’s still a love scene, so the actors have to collaborate on what they want to do and make sure they’re comfortable. And then on top of that, you’re doing all the intricacies of blocking the love scene with stunt guys being like, “Okay, we can wire her and pull her on a pulley up in the air here.” And all that. So it mostly got figured out the set. I was there, Phil Sgriccia, the producing director, was there, the actors and the stunt people. And it was us just really working through the set and saying, “Well, we can smash them here, and we can throw them here, and we can raise them here. And Hey guys, what do you think? And then Aya and Anthony were pitching ideas. And so, it was just this real collaboration of figuring out how to pull that off.
Did you have an intimacy coordinator?
KRIPKE: This was right before that became mandated by SAG. It was before that. If we do, any scene from now on, we’ll have one, but it was a little before that.
New episodes of The Boys premiere weekly on Amazon Prime Video. For more, here’s this week’s recap of the episode.