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'The Boys': 'THR Presents' Q&A With Eric Kripke, Erin Morarty and Aya Cash

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The Hollywood Reporter's Aaron Couch sat down with Eric Kripke, Erin Morarty and Aya Cash to discuss their series 'The Boys' in a THR Presents Q&A.

Video Transcript

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AARON COUCH: Hi, I'm Aaron Couch. And thank you for joining the Hollywood Reporter Presents Q&A with the talent behind "The Boys". And Eric, let's start with you. I know this is a question you get a lot, but I can't help. I rewatched season two. And it's even more relevant now just a few months later after it aired than it was back in October. So when you see things in the news that are happening, do you feel any sense of satisfaction that, wow, this show really kind of predicted the future? Or is it kind of depressing when you see things like capital riots and stuff like that?

ERIC KRIPKE: No, it's super depressing. In zero way do I want any of this to have come true. The show is a dystopia. That's the genre it really is. So the idea that so much of it is coming true is not good. Look, we're just happy that we have an outlet to talk about some things that I think really need to be talked about. And we're just grateful for that. But I would way prefer we live in a really boring world where the show just that isn't hitting the zeitgeist that it's hitting right now.

AARON COUCH: Now, Aya, I know that you actually were cast before the show came out and became a giant hit. What do you remember about those conversations with Eric in terms of what your character was going to be all about? She certainly was quite interesting in season two.

AYA CASH: He lied to my face. He said she's an [INAUDIBLE] girl next door. Although she is the girl next door. He's the Karen next door. She-- no we have some good conversations just in the audition process. We were able to even start talking about the character and what the arc of the character was going to be a little bit. Because obviously, the sides were more geared towards the first couple of episodes.

So it definitely wasn't a bait and switch. But yeah. And then once I got cast, then he gave me a real breakdown of the season, which just I remember sitting on my couch being like, what? What? No. That's amazing. I mean, it was so fun to hear what was going to happen and how she was going to get her comeuppance as well, which changed I feel like a few times throughout the season. There were different ways she was going to be punished. But I love how it ended with the stomping by this lovely lady. She's above me.

AARON COUCH: Yeah. I mean, Erin, what was kind of your reaction when you, yeah, eventually got to that scene that is kind of strangely satisfying, but then you step back and realize, oh we're watching somebody getting beaten up. It's weird how I feel about it [INAUDIBLE].

ERIN MORIARTY: but that's a good thing. I mean you hope that you're on the side-- it doesn't matter who's getting beaten up to a certain degree. You hope you're on the side that just doesn't like the violence. But I've said this many times. I'll say it again. It was so weird for me because our job is a weird one to have, to be honest. Because you've got Aya Cash in real life who we've all come to love and who's the loveliest human being in real life. And then she's playing this person who is symbolic of, and the epitome of, the worst facets of our country.

And so it was a dichotomy. It was satisfying. But then every time I had to run up to her, I remember I had this one move that was a knee to the face. And I was like, I just feel so-- it was so weird. I've never felt totally opposing feelings at the same time towards the same situation. So I feel like it was one of the few moments I wasn't able to detach from my job. But I feel like that's a testament to Aya as a human being. But I mean, when I saw it on screen as kind of not objective at all, but a little less objective months later on watching the whole season, I was able to get the real satisfaction that I usually get out of a scene like that. And I loved it and the music too.

So it was fun. I mean, I love fight scenes. I find them really cathartic. I don't know what that says about me. But I do. Yeah.

AARON COUCH: Yeah. And we talk about fight scenes, there were quite a few good ones in this season. I mean, when in the writers room do you come up with the idea of and Almond Joy being the thing that takes down this badass guy? I mean, that was pretty unexpected [INAUDIBLE].

ERIC KRIPKE: Yeah. That specific one was actually Karl Urban. So we were at Comic-Con promoting season one. Nathan Mitchell who plays Noir has an incredibly severe tree nut allergy. And every one of these green rooms in every room, there's nothing but nuts. It's just bowls and bowls and bowls of them. And Karl said to me, he's like, we should give Noir a nut allergy. And I'm like, that's the best idea ever because when you're making a superhero show, you're always thinking about what's their weakness? They all need some kind of Achilles heel. That's why Superman has Kryptonite, because otherwise it's a really boring story.

And the idea that one superhero's Kryptonite is the most basic thing that thousands of 13-year-olds have just brought me a lot of joy.

AARON COUCH: That's amazing. There are so many great personalities among your cast. I mean, are they bringing new ideas every now and then? I mean, I know you have it covered with the room. But I'm sure they put their own personality--

ERIC KRIPKE: No. I mean, every showrunner works differently. I encourage it. I want it. I think it's all for the best. I mean, one is I'll take all the brains I can get. And two, anything that will make you an actor feel more like they're invested and wrapped around that dialogue because they really put it through their own process, it only helps. There's no downside to it.

AYA CASH: Can I just say too, it's such a gift. I didn't believe it because I came on season two. And they were like, no, no, no. Eric will respond. You can make suggestions. You can-- and I was like, yeah but really, he's probably like, ugh, that's so annoying. And I remember writing my first email like, I have this idea. Is this OK? And Eric was so welcoming to all of it. It's a very genuine best idea wins. And he also shoots down the ideas that don't work. So it's a very-- it's not like he's just taking everything. It's a very-- but to be that collaborative is really fun.

ERIN MORIARTY: No, he's almost known for it but in the best way. It's like what you said, Aya. You are so receptive to any idea. But the trust comes in when he's supportive of a majority of them. And he trusts us because we come at these characters with maybe a really detailed perspective. But he also every human being, especially actors, our job is not to write. So there will be certain ideas that don't properly jive. Or maybe as a whole, like in our micro scene, they might work. But in the macro, they won't.

And so yeah. I mean, I would say that he's extremely receptive and in all the ways that you would hope, in the warm inviting way, and then if need be, the figure on set who kind of keeps you in line. So it's perfect. But I've never worked with someone who's more collaborative and just encouraging of that, which also makes the actors feel comfortable on set to-- there's a liberating part of that as well even when you're in the moment that's just nice.

I mean, I feel very lucky every day. I kind of think all the time, you're not going to have this forever. So he's definitely an anomaly in a really positive way in that sense.

ERIC KRIPKE: Thank you. Jesus. This is great. Well anyway, good interview. And appreciate that. Goodbye, everybody. Goodnight. Goodnight. Thanks so much.

AARON COUCH: And Aya and Erin, you had some really good scenes together. The press junket scene obviously hit close to home. The scene with the mom, with Andy's mom, yeah, what's the key to kind of finding those moments together? Awkward, but funny too.

ERIN MORIARTY: Oh, God. The key.

AYA CASH: He is [INAUDIBLE].

ERIN MORIARTY: I just was-- no, I was like, oh cool. She's great. And whenever you are working with someone who's really good, they make you better. And I'm like, I'm just going to work off of her and I'm inherently going to be better. It was truly just a give and take situation. And I just enjoyed every minute of it because my thing with the way she portrayed that character is that it was very, she hooks you in before you find out she's evil. So the way she played it was just it was a real-- the way it kind of messed with Starlight's head and kind of brought her in and she was thinking that perhaps they would be kindred spirits in this really evil world.

And then I fed off of Aya the whole time for me. And it just was fun because of who she is. And she's always keeping me on my toes. And I feel like you change every take, every single time, which makes the other actor better as well. So--

AYA CASH: I mean honestly, we're just going to say the same things about each other, which is that Erin's talented and it's really fun to play with talented people. And I love the dynamic between the two of them. I love that there is the potential for a friendship that all of a sudden-- I mean, the whole point of Stormfront is that she sucks you in with one thing and then turns, which is again how things have been working in our own society these days in terms of nobody-- what is that famous NXIVM quote? "Nobody joins a cult. They join something good." And so I love that that dynamic is played out on a bigger level as well but sort of starts with the Starlight thing when you think it's one thing and then it becomes another.

AARON COUCH: There are so many scenes in this season, the whale, things like that that are just standouts. One that I was not expecting was Stormfront and Homelander kind of having a love scene. And it's very strange and just kind of, again, hilarious. And I'm feeling weird watching it. Yeah, what was kind of the key to writing that and then the shooting that? That was pretty unexpected and crazy.

ERIC KRIPKE: I think it was about-- for us, I think for his nuts and gonzo as "The Boys" can be, we always try in the writers room to say, if we can't find a really strong emotional underpinning to a crazy moment, we won't do it. And so the thing we actually talk-- we don't talk a lot about the crazy. We talk a lot about how Homelander's never really been with someone who he connects with on not just in an ideological way but someone who is just not going to break when they can finally unleash his inner sociopath.

Even when he was with Maeve, Maeve have had enough humanity that he couldn't just laser her and smash her into walls and shit. But he was just so-- it was about-- and I think she was doing a really excellent job of drawing him in. And then his complete and utter joy and release that, finally I'm with someone who's as sociopathic as I am.

AARON COUCH: Erin, I'm not sure if you recall any ideas that you were hoping to see that didn't pan out this season. Or does nothing really come to mind for you?

ERIN MORIARTY: That didn't pan out that-- well, I would say that I almost hesitate to say this because I think Jack is still holding out hope that it'll happen. But I feel like season one, Huey and I have this scene where I say to him, you're not intimidated by me and how I could literally bench press you? And he's like, no. And ever since, I feel like every season, Jack's like maybe this is a season we're going to see you bench press me. Maybe this is it.

And I feel like it came up recently. I made a joke that it could be in a love scene that it becomes this thing where I'm bench pressing him, and where it's another thing that we're-- I don't know.

ERIC KRIPKE: Yeah. Yeah, that Jack did pitch that this season. And every time he pitches it, he pitches it like it's a new idea that he hasn't thought of before. And he goes, he'll be like, opening montage, me and Annie, really-- crazy idea, but I think it's really going to work. She bench presses me. And I'm like, yeah. No, I know. You keep saying that.

ERIN MORIARTY: Every time. Every three months.

ERIC KRIPKE: Every year, you do bring that up.

AARON COUCH: And yeah. Kind of speaking of the finale, I think Aya alluded to this earlier. It was hard to find what you would end up doing with Stormfront I guess at the end. I mean, yeah, how many iterations did that go through? Are you the kind that writes while production is going on? How does that kind of work?

ERIC KRIPKE: Amazon gives us one, only eight episodes. It is great. And we have about six months before production. So we get through a lot of story before the season starts. We do some writing. Maybe that script actually was being broken while they were shooting episode one. But in general, the lead time is really great.

I mean, look. We always knew that something awful was going to happen to Stormfront. She needed a pretty severe comeuppance for who she was and what she believed in. I would say the biggest challenge was there were so many-- I mean, it's really true. There were so many characters who needed a piece of her that it was difficult to structure because Annie needed her piece of her because of that, Kimiko definitely did, Maeve needed it, and then Butcher needed to be in on that.

So there was so much. There were so many people who needed to line up to beat up Stormfront that we had a hard time because it's ultimately like it's this puzzle of, how do you tell the story in a way that it doesn't feel like this kluge of stuff and you can spread it out? So that was a hard script to-- Rebecca Sonnenshine wrote it and did a brilliant job. And that one was a tough break. That was a lot of filling an entire board with what we thought the story was and then erasing it and starting over because we just we weren't quite figuring out how to quite get the order of event.

But once we got it and it clicked into place, I thought it worked pretty well.

AARON COUCH: And so you're in production on season three. Yeah, what is it kind of like to get the gang back together after COVID especially? I mean, how are things going? Must be happy to be seeing everybody.

ERIC KRIPKE: Well, I'll let Erin speak to that. I mean, Toronto is not after COVID.

ERIN MORIARTY: Yeah. No, it's very middle of COVID. It's weird to be here. It's weird to be anywhere that you've only been in pre-COVID because it's just a reflection on how much has changed. But I will say that there's something really nice about returning-- after this year of so much just ambiguity and darkness and still to this-- just not knowing what is what and what's going to happen. I think-- the cast and-- I think that this is a statement that's broadly used. But it's so genuine in this case.

It's such a good group of people that for me I felt really happy and grateful to return to a cast that I felt so comfortable with, and familiar with, and familial with, literally, where it feels like a family after such a weird year. So it just felt-- I don't know. It felt really nice to kind of be integrated into this whole new world with a group of people that is immensely close and really kind of there for each other personally and professionally. So only good things.

I think being in Toronto, that is not like the United States right now in terms of its vaccine rollout and all of that stuff is weird. And but I think just having work and just having that. I think after the year we've had and just becoming abundantly aware of how troubling it is, and the consequences of this year, just we're all very happy to be back and be employed to be honest on a job we love. So just lucky, I guess, feeling that more than anything.

AARON COUCH: That's great. And Eric, the spinoff is still happening. I mean, do we know if [INAUDIBLE] people like Starlight could show up on the spinoff, or is it totally separate? What's the latest with that?

ERIC KRIPKE: No. We have been working on the pilot script. I can say without giving anything away, I think we are finding a lot of great opportunities for reasonable crossover because what you forget is that The Seven in our world are the biggest stars on the planet. And it's interesting actually to just jump to the perspective of people who look up to those people rather than being with them because they're in their commercials, and they're consuming their media.

And from the perspective of basically the aspirational people in that world who want to be the next heroes, which is what the show is really about. It's been super interesting to see. So we're finding a lot of good opportunities to be referencing the mothership.

AARON COUCH: And just to wrap up, when you think back on season two, did the three of you have a not necessarily favorite scene, but a scene that perhaps you had to prepare the most for or a scene that you were most nervous about getting right?

ERIC KRIPKE: You guys start. I got to think about that.

ERIN MORIARTY: I know. I need to think about it too.

AYA CASH: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

ERIN MORIARTY: I was so impressed when I saw.

AYA CASH: Learning German in a week was definitely the most I had to prepare. And having Antony Starr snotting over me while I lay in prosthetics on the ground. I mean, it looks so amazing. But I mean that shot of Ant coming down onto-- it's just so beautiful. That's one of my favorites.

AARON COUCH: Yeah.

ERIC KRIPKE: I'll jump in. Whale was crazy, and Love Sausage was crazy, and that was all good. But the thing that I had the most-- I don't know if it's the best scene in the-- I don't think it's the best scene of the season. But the one I had the most personal joy and fun with was writing Dawn of The Seven. That was just a blast because it sucked. It sucked so hard. And so to be able to write just this ridiculous overstuffed piece of crap was so fun. And that I think was my, that was my favorite.

And by the way, if the audience ever plays the game of trying to put together the scenes that we have set-- that movie makes zero sense. It starts out with a drug dealer, and then somehow by the end, there's mutants, and New York is destroyed. A Train leaves. It makes no goddamn sense whatsoever. But then the same goes for a lot of movies, I guess.

ERIN MORIARTY: It's so-- OK, this is actually really weird because this is what comes to mind. But this gives you a little insight into the filming process. Because I feel like by saying this, it implies I resent it being cut, which I don't. OK? I swear to God. So we went to Comic-Con to San Diego the weekend right before this scene was shot. And I was like, OK, listen. I cannot party at Comic-Con because of this one little moment that I feel like is the build up of Starlight where she explodes at these reporters into the camera.

ERIC KRIPKE: So wait. What scene? What movie was it?

ERIN MORIARTY: Remember with, it was Rebecca's episode I think. It was at the press junket. And I'm looking at the reporters and all of a sudden, it goes-- so Starlight and Stormfront are at this press junket that you mentioned before. And she goes into this moment where she just goes into her own world and Ashley asks her, are you ready? And she just launches into them.

And I think for me at that point as Starlight, I'd built up such a resentment for this world, and it so explosive. And I was like I just remember the prelude to that being Comic-Con week and it being looking around me. And I made it through that weekend nearly sober. Everyone thought I was drunk because of that little moment. I was like, I got it. And then it got cut. And then this is just a really good lesson in the fact that it got cut. And I was like, nope. Have faith. Everything that gets cut, is meant to have cut-- meant to be cut. And then the third season I feel like is even more satisfying because we excluded that and maybe more explosive. Or maybe that's my coping mechanism in saying that.

I don't resent things being cut. I don't. I don't resent them. If you end up on the show to a certain degree, then you're lucky. I've been cut out of things entirely. So it didn't really bother me. But that's literally what came to mind. I remember being at Comic-Con looking around, and just pretending I was drunk just to hang with the group but being like, you can't go there because you got this moment. So maybe one day.

ERIC KRIPKE: It totally bothers her. That's one. And two, actually it's a solid example of what's crazy about filmmaking, which is she was fucking brilliant in that moment. It was crazy good. And the editing process, which is a ruthless process, and the editing the process you sat there, and you were like, someone said, I forget. It might have been me. But someone was like, is there anything she's saying in the dialogue that is information we do not know as the audience?

And we said, no. We know exactly how she already feels. And then the minute that question is asked, is there new information happening here? And if the answer is, no there isn't, the scene almost always dies. Because you keep the audience moving from new revelation to new revelation. You never try to repeat yourself. But she was great. But you have all these beautiful moments and these beautiful scenes you don't realize until you're watching it in the edit, which is I already know that. So but she was great. I'm going to send her that as a YouTube link. And we'll enjoy it that [INAUDIBLE].

ERIN MORIARTY: It was a lesson because it takes a while to get to the point of not personalizing things. It was a lesson in not-- I just was like, because of this show and the relationship we all have, and the solidification of all of our characters, it was like, I saw it. And I was like, it didn't need to be there. It just didn't. And that's my-- we get very attached to scenes and moments. And it's a good lesson in depersonalizing. But it's funny because that's what came to mind.

AARON COUCH: Well, yeah. Those are great insights from this season. So yeah. Thanks for joining us. And congrats on a wonderful season two. Excited for season three and the spin off down the road. So good luck.

ERIN MORIARTY: Thank you.

ERIC KRIPKE: Thank you so much.

AYA CASH: Thank you.

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