Antony Starr of 'The Boys' Previews Homelander's Clash With Stormfront: 'There Will Be Blood'
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a dangerous jerk who, in his own words, "can do whatever the f**k I want!" Season 2 of Amazon Prime Video's The Boys is almost here, which means so is cocky superhero Homelander (Antony Starr). He wears the American flag as a cape, can shoot lasers from his eyes and flies around at unbelievable speeds.
But this is The Boys, so he's not following in the footsteps of Captain America or Superman. Set in a universe where superheroes walk among us and are treated like first-rate celebrities even as they abuse their powers, the bloody satire—based on Garth Ennis' comic books—tells the darker side of a beloved pop culture format. Here, a vigilante group, "The Boys," tries to keep the badly behaving "Supes," as they're known, in line.
The Boys have their work cut out for them where Starr's Homelander and his Avengers-esque group The Seven are concerned. In Season 1, Homelander wreaked havoc across the board, whether it was abandoning a crashing plane of victims or creating Super Villains across the globe to help Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue), the executive of Vought, the company which founded The Seven, secure a deal with the government.
After learning that Vought had hidden a son he had with Becca (Shantel VanSanten), the wife of his nemesis, Boys leader Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), he sought revenge by slaying Madelyn. So what's next for the uncontrollable menace? Starr previews Homelander's Season 2 journey including his next steps, new foe Stormfront (Aya Cash), what fatherhood for the Supe might look like, and more.
One of the last times fans saw Homelander, he killed Madelyn who had been an anchor of sorts for him. How will that loss affect him in Season 2? And will her role be filled by anyone else in his life?
Antony Starr: I think that's one of primary drives of the character is he's always seeking connection. Stillwell was his ally, and I don't think she fully understood how much weight he put on that relationship. Then the trust violation that led to her untimely demise really puts Homelander in an interesting position heading into Season 2 because he really took control and was very much the master of his own destiny by the end of Season 1.
He kind of had a win against Butcher and heads into Season 2 feeling like he's taking his training wheels off and he's ready to roll. But then he quickly learns that without Stillwell there, not only was she his ally and friend/oedipal fixation, she was also a buffer between him and [Vought International CEO] Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito).
He's in a whole new set of circumstances where the control is not there anymore. And he's an old dog that's going to learn some new tricks in order to keep up. I think he's always going to be looking for that connection [he had with Madelyn] because he is so deeply alienated from everyone on the planet. So I don't know that he'll ever achieve that goal of connecting fully and wholly, but I don't think the character will ever stop looking for it.
Homelander also learned he was a father in the first season. Will he be looking for connection through that relationship?
In the trailer there are shots of Homelander doing some rather epic parenting on a rooftop, so I don't think it's too secret, but definitely now that he's got a son, he wants the son in his world. He wants to connect with the boy, but of course being that he is a narcissistic psychopath, the traffic is going to go one way and it's going to be basically Homelander's way or getting pushed off the roof.
So it's a bumpy relationship for both of them, but it's really interesting because like for most parents, kids don't necessarily do what you want them to. They're not just little robots that are under your spell and under your control. So Homelander needs to find some new tactics. He can't use the superficial tricks that he uses on kids that are fans, that adore the celebrity.
He has to really find a way to connect and he doesn't really know how to do that because he wasn't raised by parents. So it's all new territory for him and it's very difficult for him to navigate. That's really what Season 2 is about — him trying to navigate with these new relationships and challenges that he didn't expect.
You mentioned Giancarlo Esposito's character Stan Edgar as being a possible obstacle. What can you tease about their Season 2 working relationship?
Well we see a little bit of Edgar in Season 1, but not a lot. We do understand that coming into Season 2 that he firmly represents Vought, the corporation and shareholders. He's a company man and I think Homelander sees himself as Vought's most important commodity and Edgar does not necessarily see it the same way. Which is yet another way of Homelander's world sort of collapsing around him quite early on.
We're so lucky to have Giancarlo, he's just amazing and a great guy to work with, just a decent good human which is nice. So we had a lot of fun doing these scenes and it was good but you can see he's a pretty intense character and a hugely destabilizing presence for Homelander. So expect those two, the old bull and the slightly younger bull to butt heads quite a bit in Season 2.
There's a new Supe in The Seven. Will Stormfront's (Aya Cash) presence shake up Homelander's world?
Absolutely. She doesn't respect him, she's not afraid of him and that presents more uncertainty for Homelander. Like, how does he deal with this new young person that is seemingly unaware of who he is and what he can do to them? But she does everything out in the open and very publicly and she's a company woman to a certain extent. So that paired with Edgar... she's a huge pain in Homelander's butt. She will have as much trouble dealing with him as he has dealing with her. And I think the simplest way to put it is there will be blood.
The show definitely doesn't shy away from it. Season 2 seems like the bloodiest yet.
And you know, the best thing about it is that very rarely do I have any blood on me. It's always on Jack Quaid and The Boys, which is wonderful!
Stormfront is really into social media. Will that deter Homelander from acting out in ways he'd usually get away without cameras around?
Well, she's a challenge in that he can't kill her because she's a company woman. As I said, she's a Vought hire. So he can't just eliminate her in the way he might want to. So the challenge would be to try and find a way to combat her out without using his lasers. She's an alpha female, so she comes in and wants this job. She wants to be the leader of The Seven and makes it very clear. There is a huge threat there for him because all Homelander really knows and a huge part of his personality is built around public adoration. So she's trying to undermine that and take that away from him. But like any wild animal you'd put in a corner, they're going to fight back and he definitely does.
Homelander mentions towards the end of Season 1 that he'd been creating Super Villains across the globe by supplying Compound V — a substance that gives Supes their powers. Will we see the effects of this action in Season 2?
Yeah definitely, a lot of those threats from Season 1 come up in Season 2, some more than others, but that definitely comes up a little later in the season. That's what a lot of Season 2 is about. If you look at it as a general sort of overview, whatever the characters thought they had or did have in Season 1, it's going to be taken away from them in Season 2. They're going to be forced into new territory to deal with the repercussions of their actions in Season 1.
Homelander and Billy Butcher's tension must continue in Season 2. Can you tease anything about where their storyline is heading?
That relationship definitely comes up, and sadly it's not in any better shape than it was. They still have quite a large amount of animosity towards each other and I think possibly Homelander underestimates Butcher a little bit. In the end of Season 1 we see he's put him in the garden and introduces Butcher to Homelander's son, which was born of his not-so-dead wife. So it's almost like a cat playing with a mouse. What would hurt more than knowing that your wife is alive? She's had your enemy's child. So there's a lot going on there. I don't think it's ever going to be a bromance, but Homelander's underestimation of Butcher is a highlight of Season 2 as it goes on.
Homelander has to be one of TV's most terrifying characters. Is it more fun or challenging to take on such a cold and calculating role?
I thrive on it, I love it. It's so fun being the bad guy. A lot of the time having been the lead in a few things as the "good guy," you go into a scene, you don't get what you want... you do end up doing the same thing, whereas trying to make Homelander the bad guy or someone that's got a different agenda that isn't the primary focus of the story, you get so many different angles to play. It's just fun. I look at the plane crash scene from Season 1, and I mean poor old Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) had a terrible day bearing the emotional weight of the whole thing and crying. Every take was a drama and difficult, whereas I was just laughing at the whole thing. I thought it was very funny that he accidentally lasered the controls and then went, "Oh, well, that's bad. I'm out of here." It's funny on TV afterwards, I have a ball. So I think with the darker characters you've just got to embrace it and have fun with it.
Would you say that fans have learned everything they need to know about Homelander, or is he capable of more than fans realize?
I think there are hidden gems in Homelander that even after Season 2, I'm really excited to see where we go in Season 3. We definitely learn some new things about Homelander and Homelander learns some new things about himself. The whole season is about him really digging into himself and trying to figure out his own identity. He really confronts himself and it's new and interesting and weird, funny and disgusting.
The Boys, Season 2, Premieres, Friday, September 4, Amazon Prime Video