Amazon Prime‘s The Boys has swiftly morphed into a cultural phenomenon. Season Two smashed expectations in terms of ratings, and there’s even a spinoff currently in development. But what about the girls?
I recently had the privilege of attending a virtual press junket with the actresses of The Boys. Entitled “Girls Get It Done,” the event was a play on a similar press day that took place in the show. Erin Moriarty (Starlight), Karen Fukuhara (Kimiko), Aya Cash (Stormfront), Shantel VanSanten (Becca Butcher), Colby Minifie (Ashley), Laura Jean Shannon (costume designer), and Aisha Tyler (host of Prime Rewind: Inside The Boys) were in attendance.
Now, I participated in three roundtable interviews with the majority of the aforementioned. Moriarty and Fukuhara were paired for one interview. Cash and Minifie were paired for another interview. Lastly, VanSanten was solo.
First thing’s first — time to chat with Aya Cash and Colby Minifie! Each press outlet was granted one question per roundtable interview and may ask a second one, time permitting. Of course, I had to ask Cash how she mentally prepared to take on a role like Stormfront. Especially since the character is so far removed from Cash as a person. She had this to say in response:
I think the first thing is that actors think they’re more transformative than we actually are. I mean, we’re still ourselves. So for me, I think of every role as being very distanced and then the journey of acting, not to get gross, is to try to get closer and closer to that character through different parts of yourself and to acknowledge all of the icky, sh*tty parts of yourself that you can also use to play characters that you don’t necessarily identify with.
But for this specific one, because she is a white supremacist and she’s disgusting, and I don’t think that she should be glorified in any way, it was very challenging. The moments that I did connect to her, I also wanted to make sure that in the arc of the season, we weren’t saying, “Well, because you understand this about her that excuses anything,” which is very different than normally playing a character where I maybe would want to find the real reason behind and allow the audience to see that and understand her. I think understanding is fine, but you shouldn’t be on her side.
Another journalist asked Minifie what helps her stay in Ashley’s perpetually chaotic headspace.
I’m generally a hyper person anyway. I have a lot of energy, and also the actors on the show are so good that it’s not that hard to just respond to them. I don’t have to do much; I just have to respond. I mean, especially with somebody like Homelander; Antony [Starr] is so good that he scares the shit out of me playing his character. I just have to look into his eyes and I’m there.
Next, after roughly 15 minutes, we moved on to the next roundtable interview with Erin Moriarty and Karen Fukuhara. Kimiko is my absolute favorite, so it was difficult to choose which question to ask Fukuhara. I settled on this: how did she prepare for the intense emotional arc with Kimiko’s brother? Kimiko goes through the ringer in the span of a few episodes, from reuniting with her brother to watching him die by Stormfront’s hand.
I think you’re completely right. It was definitely a challenge as an actor to go to those dark places. It’s not a fun thing to do because, I guess it’s like, it’s so funny because we choose to do it. This is our profession and we love doing it. We’re so passionate about it, but I must admit those days are difficult. You don’t wake up thinking, “Oh yes, I get to do that scene where he dies!”
So yeah, in preparation, I think I did a lot of digging into my past and history and internal things. And then at the end of the day, I think you can do so much preparation. But when you’re on set, you have to just kind of let it go. And it’s all up to you and your scene partner. I’m so happy that I got to work with Abraham Lim, who plays my brother. And we got along really well on set. Even when the cameras were rolling, we had this kind of a friendship that translated as sibling love on screen. And then that made the relationship very real, which made it easier for us to get vulnerable in front of each other, I think.
Moriarty was asked whether the dynamic would shift significantly if the show was called “The Girls” and the roles were reversed.
I feel like we are in charge. Someone asked us before how we think the show would change if it were called “The Girls.” I think the women on our show are so badass. And I think if it changed to The Girls, it wouldn’t really change. I personally think it should be called The Girls. And I do think ultimately you get to see this very much at the end of the season, but that’s the whole concept behind this day, right?
Girls do get it done. You see that in the end and you realize actually it’s not if Kimiko and Annie were in charge, you realize actually at the end of the day, it’s all kind of lying on their shoulders. And if you needed to rely on people to save the day, it’s always going to be the women of the show. And I do think that Annie is in charge of Hughie (Jack Quaid).
Lastly, we entered our last interview of the day with Shantel VanSanten. She gave incredibly insightful answers and really delved into who Becca Butcher is.
One journalist inquired how it felt to tap into those high-intensity emotions where Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and Homelander are concerned.
I mean, she just has a few things to juggle, right? Not a lot. Just kidding. I remember even in reading Episode Four, I’m like, “How do I play the history of the lie, the choices I made, the reuniting, the excitement of that, the love story, the torn between the Mother, how do I do this?” I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe I should quit. There were a lot of moments like that, and you just take it scene by scene.
I mean, from day one on this show, I stepped on set and had to do a sex scene with Karl Urban. And then I went from doing a sex scene to giving birth to a superhero where I had a giant … funnel’s not the right word, but a tube that ran from my neck, down my spine, out my butt crack underneath the sheet that just spewed blood on everybody. And I hadn’t read all the episodes. I didn’t get to read the graphic novel yet, and I looked at Eric Kripke and was like, “What kind of show am I doing? This is so messed up.” And he’s like, “Exactly.”
But to know that in between the moments of entertainment, there’s undertones of hopefully making people feel uncomfortable and calling to light the things that are happening in our world and the, if you will, characters of our world currently, I think is so important. And, they run that fine line where people will still tune in, even though they’re uncomfortable and are being called out.
And I think that I feel proud to be a part of that type of show. But playing Becca, it was difficult and interesting and a challenge, and it’s every actor’s dream to be able to do that. There are slight moments I wish that I got of levity, but that’s not Becca’s world. Becca doesn’t lean into the easy choice. She gets uncomfortable. She faces her rapist. She calls it out. She’s not going to live in the grey. And she’s also going to fight for everything that she’s fought for thus far.
I asked VanSanten whether she found her relationship with the writers and directors to be a collaborative one.
Oh, of course, of course. I mean, it’s so rare, first of all, on the show, even as a lead or a series regular to always have that, and I seek it out in every job to be able to have some creative input, not that my idea is the best idea, not that I have all the answers, but I have them. And like I said, I want to be heard, and I live with this person 24/7, whereas writers and directors have an overall picture. They’re juggling 25 characters being interwoven in the story, and they’re going to miss things, whereas I live and breathe this person day in and day out from day one, honestly, through the end, because usually there’s a giant purging that has to happen in releasing of a character.
But I think that it would be a disservice to be a director or a writer and to not hear somebody’s ideas out and then collaborate. Collaboration is the key to being creative. And, I will say Fred [Toye] in Episode Four and Karl were both so lovely when I very strongly presented my idea that we were going to lay in the back of the car and not sit on the ground, and we were going to hold each other because this was everything that she wanted and waited and would think of and hold on to. Listen, sex is great. That’s awesome.
But the companionship, what she used to have, that true intimacy of laying in one another’s arms, sharing the cigarette and seeing a small glimpse of maybe who they used to be or their true, deep love for one another was something I felt I wanted to fight for before I knew the scene that came next because it is. That’s the turmoil of loving and not ending up together. That’s one of the greatest heartbreaks of your life is when it just, f*ck, you love each other so much, and it just doesn’t work, and that’s ultimately where we leave them, and maybe we’ll see each other again.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with these immeasurably talented actresses. Everyone was so kind and proffered intricate, thoughtful responses. What a glimpse into the world of The Boys as seen through the girls. Because girls really do get it done.
The Boys Season Two finale will be available to stream Friday, October 9, only on Amazon Prime.
This article was originally published on 10/2/20
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