The following story contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of The Boys.
It only takes one look at Karl Urban's Instagram to get the idea: He's not just the star of The Boys, Amazon Prime Video's massively successful epic superhero satire, he's also a big, big fan. The 48-year-old actor, who's previously been a part of major franchises like The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (in Thor: Ragnarok) posts photos with fellow cast members, jokes from episodes, and captions that sometimes even sound like they could have been written by his character, Billy Butcher, who leads the titular Boys.
When Urban and I begin our Zoom, it's the end of the day, just after 7:00pm on Eastern Standard time—but he's looking fresh and ready for a big day at 12:00 noon, New Zealand time. Urban, who doesn't look all that different asc from how he looks as Billy Butcher, is wearing a black t-shirt, sipping a seltzer, and seems fired up to talk about The Boys and whatever we all just saw happen in Season 2.
When I tell him that I just finished watching the massive, world-changing finale—something he hadn't even done yet, because he's watched the entire season in real time, week-by-week—a smile lights his face up. "Oh my god!" he says. "What'd you think?"
Here's the thing, though: He knew the answer to that question. He knows what I think, and what everyone thinks. The Boys rules, and the finale was a continuation of the show ruling from the first moment of the first episode. Luckily, there was way more conversation to be had from there—Urban talked the end of Season 2, The Boys becoming a franchise, humanizing evil characters, and what could come in Season 3.
I already can't wait for Season 3—so let's start there. Do you have any idea yet when you guys will be getting back to work?
Nothing official. Word on the street is we’re looking for a late January start. Obviously depending on a number of factors, the least of which would be COVID-19 [laughs]. So, we’ll just wait and see. We’re all pretty thrilled with the phenomenal response that we’ve gotten with Season 2, building on Season 1, and we’re really looking forward to getting back to work and delivering an even better Season 3.
Did you have a standout memory from making Season 2?
I had many great memories from shooting Season 2. Episode 3, for me, was a highlight in terms of the fact that we were on the water for two weeks shooting speedboat sequences, and it was just lovely to be out of the office, out of the studio. The cast, we all had a lot of fun. So, that was exciting.
Beyond that, I think, probably...I got to work with John Noble, an old friend of mine from Lord of the Rings in 7, and also got to [work] with Giancarlo [Esposito, who plays Stan Edgar], who I hadn’t worked with before, and he was just fantastic in Episode 8. All around, it was a lot of fun.
Can you walk us through the finale's sequence in the woods that resulted in both Stormfront and Becca's deaths?
I haven’t actually watched it yet. I’m watching it as it unfolds in real time, so I get to see that this Friday—I’m super excited about that.
As to how it was shooting that whole sequence...it was heavy. Not so much the Stormfront of it all, because that’s really a different component of the scene that didn’t involve me so much.
But the fate of Becca Butcher was… a difficult scene to shoot, and certainly stayed with me for a while afterwards. I feel very blessed to have worked this entire season with the terrifically talented Shantel VanSanten—she did such an incredible job of her portrayal of Becca Butcher, and she certainly elevated my game. It was just a wonderful experience to work with her; I think that she brings an emotional resonance to this season that is going to have quite an impact for a long time.
Particularly in the Season 2 finale Butcher is armed, and throughout the series there are all sorts of fight sequences. Did you do anything special to prepare for these?
I had a limited amount of fight training with the coordinator as and when it was needed, and when the script called for Butcher to get into that. But pretty minimalistic all around.
I certainly…[starts laughing] I saw one Twitter comment of someone commenting on the way Butcher was holding his weapon, so perhaps there’s room for improvement there. We’ve got a fantastic stunt team, and I think one of my favorite parts of the entire season was watching the “Girls Get It Done” fight at the end. That was just epic.
You have such great chemistry with basically everyone you share scenes with, especially Jack Quaid as Hughie. Is there something you do to improve that chemistry as time goes on?
Well, I mean, chemistry is not something you can work on. You either have it or you don’t. We’re just sort of blessed by the fact that Eric Kripke, our showrunner, has put together a group of actors that work really well together. It’s just smart casting—it’s as simple as that. Over the course of two seasons, we’ve grown to be like a family. We all feel super blessed that the show has become a phenomenal success, and we’re very grateful for that.
You've been a part of Lord of the Rings, and Star Trek, and even the MCU. Do you think The Boys has the potential to be as big a franchise as those?
Yeah, most definitely. I mean, the fact of the matter is that Amazon has already commissioned a spin-off. So, by virtue of the fact that there’s going to be more than one program that’s set in the world of The Boys, means it's a franchise. But I think we happened to tap into the popularity of current pop culture; the superhero genre has been popular for over a couple of decades now, and we’re offering an audience something that’s fresh, and exciting, and something they haven’t seen before. And I think that’s always going to be rewarded.
Butcher, Hughie, and Homelander all demonstrate very different kinds of masculinity in The Boys. Is that something you think about when making the show?
I don’t overthink it. Really, my job is to tell the story that’s written in the script. I have a dialogue with the showrunner so we’re both on the same page as to where we’re going and what we’re trying to achieve. We’re all sort of playing different sides of that coin, and at the end of the day it’s a morality tale, and characters generally get rewarded for making the right choice, and penalized for making the wrong choice.
Certainly one of the aspects of the show that I really respond to is that the characters all have these very clear and obvious flaws, and that humanizes them. You’re able to empathize with these characters. Even someone like Homelander, who is the most hideous rapist and mass murderer, you can empathize with him, because he’s a test tube kid, he grew up in a sterile environment, was poked, and prodded, and manipulated his whole life. And, so, on that level, you can understand how he has a fundamental lack of humanity. It just comes down to good writing.
We don't know much, but we know Season 3 is coming. What do you think the future could hold for Billy Butcher?
I honestly don’t know. For me, at this point, I’m thinking after the tragic events that happened to Becca, it would be quite conceivable for Butcher to just disappear. He could go down to some coastal Mexican spot and just be doing shots in the bar with the locals and just walk away from the whole thing. I don’t know. He almost walked away in Episode 5 after Becca Butcher rejected him, so it’ll be interesting to see, and difficult to predict. But, whatever happens, I would expect Eric Kripke and the writers to continue to up the stakes, and continue to dive deeper into these characters, and expand the story in a really exciting way. So, watch this space.
This interview was condensed for content and clarity.
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