Antony Starr on Homelander's Big, Gross Last Scene in 'The Boys' Season 2 Finale
Starr talks about *that* scene, how it feeds into Homelander's deep rage, and what's to come for the supes in Season 3.
This post contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of Amazon's The Boys.
The last image we see of Antony Starr's sociopathic superhero Homelander in the second season finale of The Boys is one that perfectly encapsulates the show's tone: It's grotesque, funny, and just a little bit terrifying. He's standing on the top of Vought tower, looking over the New York skyline, furiously masturbating and telling himself, "I can do whatever I want," through gritted teeth. For Starr, the experience was "so fucking horrible," he says. "You're standing up on this giant fake building on a green screen set with your ass out about to attack yourself and all I could think was, 'What the fuck? What happened to my life? How did I get here?'"
It's a testament to Starr's performance, arguably one of the best on TV right now, that those qualms never show. Over the course of 16 episodes, Starr has crafted a Superman-slash-Captain America stand-in who is as terrifying as he is deeply insecure. He's a narcissist, who betrays his own authority with the curve of his lip. By the time he's violently pleasuring himself, he's been blackmailed by his teammates at Vought International, the corporate entity that controls superheroes; his not-so-secret Nazi girlfriend, Stormfront (Aya Cash), has been burnt to a crisp; and his son, a product of rape, has been wrested from his clutches and taken into government custody. Yet there's still reason to fear his barely contained anger.
The jacking-off scene actually wasn't even supposed to make it in the episode. As Starr explains, he had shot the moment for the first season as a reaction to Homelander's frustration with his (now dead) boss Stillwell (Elizabeth Shue). But Amazon, which had already aired a season full of viscera, was nervous that the rub and tug went too far and pulled it.
"There was another thing that we shot in the Season 2 finale spot and [the studio] thought it was too ambiguous, which was a shame, I thought it was great," Starr says. "But then Eric [Kripke], our very creative boss, thought to himself that would fit kind of well in there. I was reluctant at first, but once I actually saw it, I realized it's really just a moment of neediness, and in context now, it's about trying to recreate that moment of emancipation when he self-realized in Season 1. The a-ha moment of, 'I can do whatever I want,' trying to rekindle that feeling. He's just been through the ringer."
According to Starr, the beat that got cut was one that probably too closely resembled the close-up on his eyes just minutes before when Homelander, tail between his legs, is forced to recite the Vought party line at a press conference. "It's still that simmering rage and all of the hate bubbling away, but I think what's inevitably going to come out of it will be a planned attack," Starr says. "It definitely will not be something that's random, just lasering someone. He can't; he has to play a smarter game. I look at that scene as autopilot: controlling the rage until he can actually unleash it."
Homelander is a self-obsessed opportunist in the most loathsome sense. Upon learning that Vought's newest marquee name Stormfront was actually an ageless Nazi with designs to create a master race of white heroes, he doesn't hesitate to go along with her plans because he is her ideal.
"He's absolutely a narcissistic sociopath and his emotional needs supersede anything else from his perspective," Starr says. "He's pining for Stillwell at the beginning of Season 2 and finds someone who is probably a better replacement. [Stormfront] challenges him, takes care of him, loves him, adores him, and is super-powered. He's actually found a pretty great match. The bummer is she happens to be a Nazi, but that ideology is not something that is shared by him. That's much more specific. It breaks humanity into groups. Whereas Homelander has a healthy disdain for all humans, no matter what their race, color, creed, sex, whatever. He's an equal opportunity hater."
A hater, yes, but with a deep need to be loved. What makes that final sequence work so well, even if it was filmed out of context, is that Homelander's desire for affection is wrapped up in his warped sexuality. "He's like a 12 year old. He's like a pubescent boy, in a way," Star says. "At a certain point, all those feelings got shelved and he never emotionally developed in a healthy way." Star assumes that Homelander's the type of guy who got all of his information about sex from porn. With Stillwell, he enacted his Oedipal fantasies; with Stormfront, he gets his ego stroked, both literally and figuratively.
But at the end of the season, he's once again alone with his fantasies of power, temporarily neutered, but ready to unleash something in Season 3. Starr doesn't know exactly what's coming, but, like what's come before, he assumes it will reflect the worst parts of living in 2020. "Sadly, because a lot of it is pretty horrible stuff, we are spoiled for choice at the moment with what parts of our social climate to dissect and poke at," Starr says. Knowing The Boys, its take on our grim world will be as irreverent as an emasculated shell of an asshole wanking on a rooftop with his butt hanging out.
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