The Boys ain’t your normal superhero show, that is for sure. One major difference is the content. The Boys is so brutally violent that it makes Marvel’s gritty Netflix shows look like the CW’s super-hotties by comparison. But there’s something else at play in The Boys that you won’t find on many—potentially any—other comic book show: it’s two shows in one.
Unlike team shows like Legends of Tomorrow or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Boys gives equal screen time to two super distinct casts. There are the Boys, duh, the rough and rowdy average Joes tasked with taking down the superhero industrial complex. Then there’s the Seven, the show’s twisted version of the Justice League or the Avengers. And just because the show is named after one of the groups doesn’t mean that the supers are the News to the Boys’ Huey Lewis. They have equal importance to the show—and you bet that’s led to some on-set rivalry.
“We personally feel that we have a lot more fun than they do on set,” said Laz Alonso, who plays the Boys’ no-nonsense conscience Mother’s Milk. “The supes is more of a—it’s a superhero show. When [production is] working with them, they’re dead-serious about what they want. With us, it’s a ‘fuck you’ to superhero shows. … It is two shows. One is a dark, dark comedy.”
These two shows-within-a-show have their own vibes and, as Alonso teasingly put it, that comes out every time someone in latex bodysuit walks on set. “The few times we have been on super sets, man, they’re just so stiff!” said Alonso, poking fun at his super-buds. “We’ll go out drinking on weekends, and it’s fun. But on set, it’s just like [dead serious]…”
Nathan Mitchell, who plays the deadly quiet super Black Noir, fully doesn’t see what he’s missing out on. “I think [the supers] have a lot of fun. I just posted something last night with me and Erin, and we were flossing, from last season.”
Of everyone in The Boys‘ sprawling cast, only one actor has the unique perspective of being an integral player for both teams: Erin Moriarty, who plays the superhero Starlight. Season 2 finds Starlight (a.k.a. Annie January) completely disillusioned by the morally monstrous “heroes” she’s surrounded by, and she sneakily takes that out on them by teaming up with The Boys.
“I’m really fortunate because my character is the only character who truly dips into both worlds, even more so in Season 2,” said Moriarty. So, which team is she really on…? “I think that my preference is reflective of my personality, because I always gravitate towards, ironically, the Boys. They’re darker, they’re vigilantes, they are the good guys but the vibe and the dynamic of their group is a little bit darker. I’ve been having a lot of fun working with the Boys, I’ve gotta admit.”
Alonso will be happy to know that, because he made his thoughts about Annie and the Boys very clear: “She has a lot more fun as a Boy. Don’t let her tell you otherwise! … She’s told me. She’s like, ‘Oh my god, Laz! I just have so much fun with all of you guys!’ And Antony [Starr, a.k.a. Homelander], Antony hates it. He fuckin’ hates it. Because he’s always like, ‘So you’re a Boy?’”
While Moriarty didn’t go that far, she did reveal that she was the most stoked to share a scene with Laz Alonso. “I was really excited to work with Mother’s Milk, because I’ve never had a scene with him,” said Moriarty. “Just the idea of having a scene with a character who feels like they’re on a different show was really cool. … Because we’re working on a show that’s a comedy, but can also get quite serious. It’s kind of important, between takes, to maintain a certain level of levity. He’s just a goofball.”
Moriarty also gets to share a few scenes with Karen Fukuhara in Season 2, creating quite possibly the oddest odd couple on this odd show consisting of the ultra bright Annie and the grim murder machine Kimiko. “I think there’s definitely a bit of shock when [Annie and Kimiko] first are in the same scene together, because [Kimiko’s] never been around someone so perky but also so taken care of,” said Fukuhara. “[Kimiko] obviously hasn’t met anyone like that. Growing up a part of a terrorist organization, there’s not that many women to begin with and then there’s definitely no makeup or proper showers, probably. I think their relationship is very cute. It’s still evolving, I would say.”
If the Boys are having more fun on set than the Seven, then Mitchell has a totally reasonable explanation for that: “Honestly, the thing about the Seven is, we usually have these solo missions and story arcs that we go on, so we’re not together as much as the Boys. But when we are, we’re laughing, we’re joking. It’s a fun time. It’s a good time.”
As Mitchell points, out, the Boys really spend a lot of time together, and that’s led to some friendly rivalries within the Boys’ tight bond. “We play jokes on each other,” said Alonso. “We’re constantly bagging on each other. Karl’s a big practical joker. I’m a practical joker.”
Tomer Capon, who plays the mischievous and mysterious Frenchie, agreed. “We try to prank each other all the time,” said Capon, before spilling the tea on his rivalry with head Boy Karl Urban. “Me and Mr. Karl Urban actually, we’re in the midst of this never-ending backgammon game, since Season 1… So sometimes if he will go and shoot a scene, if he is on the winning side, let’s say I will adjust the table a little bit to my favor.” Deceit! But Capon says his treachery has a positive impact on the show. “I love when Karl has his tough or action or angry scenes, and I’m winning. I feel like I’m doing him a favor. Because he’s getting [claps angrily]. Then he goes and does a scene and it’s beautiful. And I say, ‘That’s me. That’s me. No problem, Karl. Percentages later on.’”
But Urban can’t be so surprised by his teammates turning the tables on him so easily. After all, Karl Urban is—as Jack Quaid pointed out—the king of nonsensical pranks. “Last season, [Karl] did this thing where, out of nowhere, he brought me a birthday cake when it wasn’t my birthday. At dinner, he made everyone sing happy birthday to me. It was very weird. It was a light prank that was taken very seriously,” said Quaid, who was just as flummoxed by this prank as his character Hughie is by Billy Bucher’s brutality.
“Later, a few months down the line, we were having lunch on set,” continued Quaid. “I made production make these birthday cakes. It wasn’t his birthday at all. I had everyone sing him happy birthday. It was amazing.” The cake drama doesn’t end there, though: “Now, we’ve told that story at a few conventions, me and Karl. People are coming up to me with birthday cakes out of nowhere. We were at Dragon Con, and someone—I have a booth right next to Karl—someone came up to me and was like, ‘I love the show, and ya got caked.’ Which is what you say, I guess? Karl was like, ‘Hey everybody! It’s Jack’s birthday!’ And the entire hall sang happy birthday to me. It’s never my birthday, apparently. My birthday’s April 24. If it’s not that date, it’s not my birthday.”
All the shade and flossing and cheating and wasted cakes combine to create the conditions under which a show like The Boys—a show with two very different but equally intense sides—can be made. And unlike on the canonical hatred between the Boys and the Seven, these real “rivalries” are friendly and involve, y’know, cheating at backgammon instead of decapitations. A little friendly competition makes the show what it is—and it’s not lost on the entire cast, human and super, how special this experience is. “I know that we have this special thing together since the day we met,” said Capon. “I’m talking about the cast members of The Boys, of course. Even between our on set/off set, we know something special is happening. We felt that, even in Season 1.”
New episodes of The Boys Season 2 arrive on Prime Video on Fridays.