Gorier than Deadpool and darker than Watchmen, Amazon’s The Boys is turning out to be one of the biggest hits of the summer. Though it premiered barely two weeks ago, the cast is already shooting the second season of the Seth Rogan co-created series about a world lorded over by corrupt, corporatized superheroes. Leading the cast is Karl Urban as Billy Butcher, a man who’s dedicated his life to hunting down these “supes.”
During a break from filming, Urban spoke with us about the show’s success and controversy, what to expect from season two, and whether he might be returning to the Star Trek and Marvel universes. (Some season one spoilers ahead.)
Are you surprised by how positively the show’s been received?
Well, I’m humbled and, you know, I feel quite blessed. It’s a good thing to make something and have it universally appreciated, and The Boys has hit the ground running in a big way. We’re delighted and we’re really grateful to the fans, and we’re really dedicated and committed to delivering a really awesome season two.
There’s some truly graphic violence going on here. Did that come through in the scripts?
Well, yeah. [Laughs] The scripts were literally dripping with blood.
The show touches on some sensitive matter when it comes to American Evangelical Christians. Have you caught any blowback about that?
Not personally. I respect anybody’s faith and religion, and feel like everybody has the right to believe in whatever religion they prescribe to. And that’s probably a good question for the showrunners.
The supes are so invested in their corporate brand that they’ll kill innocent people to protect it—and their leader is named “Homelander” (Anthony Starr). How does this reflect our current reality?
I think the show does a great job of exploring contemporary ideas and events within a different genre. And it’s my opinion and clearly, I think, this is reflected in the show, that the generation that is currently running our lives, doesn’t give a fuck about out our lives, or the lives of our children. Global corporations are only interested in short-term profit, even if that comes at the expense of environmental sustainability. And looking forward to season two, I think we’re going to explore that even more.
For those who haven’t seen the show yet, do you think they’ll be shocked by the running theme of sexual violence?
I’ll tell you how it feeds into my story… The Butcher is by and large defined by tragedy because his wife was raped by Homelander. So Butcher and his wife are a victim of Homelander’s depraved sex crimes. And so, yeah, there is a direct impact and consequence in the world of Butcher to the point where it pulverizes him, and he’s really driven to seek justice and revenge, and to inform the world about the true nature of superheroes.
The Deep (Chance Crawford) certainly receives some karmic justice after he sexually assaults a fellow superhero.
Listen, I don’t think it makes the Deep any less of a pervert or a criminal. But it certainly speaks towards his character being on the receiving end of the medicine, and, you know, all the irony and lessons that accompany that.
I mean, that’s the thing. We want to deliver something to an audience that they’ve never seen before and the show I think delivers on providing the audience with characters of moral ambiguity. And you can form an opinion on them, you can make a judgment on them. But you also have to be prepared to have a paradigm shift when you come to understand more about them, why they are the way they are.
Morally gray to me is interesting, much more interesting than black and white.
What can we expect from season two?
The goal of season two will be to continue to strengthen and deepen the characters. In the case of Butcher, it’s a very humanizing season for him. The bar has been set high with season one and we’re trying to do even better with season two.
In Season Two you’re going to learn a lot more about all of the characters. That’s the point. To deepen the audience’s understanding of who they are and why they do what they do.
You’ve played Bones in three Star Trek entries so far. Will you be in the fourth?
Well, it really hasn’t been announced, but this is what I know about Star Trek 4. There is currently a script that has been written by the writer who wrote The Revenant [Mark L. Smith], and Quentin Tarantino has expressed an interest to direct it. I think it would be awesome if that movie was to happen. I think Quentin Tarantino is one of the most exciting filmmakers currently working. And I would not only love to be a part of that movie, but I would love to see it.
Your MCU character, Skurge, died in Thor: Ragnarok, but nothing is forever in the Marvel Universe. Could we be seeing you return in Phase 4?
I loved working with Marvel. They make fantastic, entertaining movies. And, you know, if my phone rang and it was [Marvel President] Kevin Feige saying, “Hey, pal, we’d like to work with you again,” I would say, “When?”
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