With Season Two of The Boys just days away, The Beat spoke Aya Cash and Anthony Starr, who play Stormfront and Homelander, the villains you love to hate. We found out what Stormfront will bring to The Seven, Homelander’s growing relationship with his son and so much more!
On newcomer Stormfront’s dynamic with the rest of The Seven and what role she plays this season, Cash shared: “Stormfront comes in kind of guns blazing after Homelander, as she’s used to being the person in charge and who’s ready to lead. So, she comes in and challenges him. She’s also very social media savvy, which is something that I think is really valuable to The Seven, and part of the reason she’s been brought in is that she’s connected to that younger audience. She represents that new generation of people who can use different platforms to both gain an audience and also use that audience. We’ve seen that with the K-Pop fans on Twitter taking over hashtags. I mean, those groups have lots of power and she knows how to utilize them.”
On what’s to come in Homelander’s relationship with his son this season, Starr told us: “I think most of what Homelander does is about Homelander, and he’s got a fairly large ego. So, when it comes to this, it turns out his genetic ego is connected to his own ego. When he meets this kid, it’s not like he’s meeting this beautiful child that he’s created and wants to put all the goodness in the world into, no, he’s meeting an extension of himself and he wants the kid to fulfill his wishes and make him proud. For Homelander, it’s always all about him.”
“Throughout the season, nothing is 100% light or dark so, we get different elements, likenesses, and layers on this relationship. It’s not exactly Parenting 101, it’s taking everything a normal and good parent would do and flipping it on its head, that’s Homelander’s parenting style. I worry that parents that are exhausted during COVID-19 are going to watch this and get some tips. I’m just hoping no parents do thing the Homelander way,” he laughs.
On if Homelander and Stormfront have any good in them and the challenges of playing villains, Starr said: “Again, there’s no such thing as 100% light or dark. And if there is, you very quickly enter into the mustache-twirling world of old school TV/film comic book villains, the quintessential bad guy that does nothing else. But I think what makes the characters more interesting and what we’ve tried to dig into with showrunner Eric Kripke, is the reason why people do what they do.”
“And like in season one, we see that Homelander is not doing what he’s doing because it’s good to be bad, it’s because he’s deeply traumatized from being raised like a lab rat and just doesn’t understand how to relate to anyone in a way that is functional or what we would deem as normal. So, I think looking at the reason why is crucial for us to get away from falling into those pitfalls of one- or two-dimensional characters that have a very short shelf life. If you have a character that is just one note, then there’s only so much you can do with it before it runs out of juice. Whereas I know Homelander can pretty much go anywhere, and I would say the same with Stormfront. They cast a lovely person in Aya and then asked her to be bad, which I think is the right way to go. Aya plays a force and it was so much fun having someone that wanted to work on the nuances of the relationship and dig deeper than just the quintessential bad guys.”
Cash added: “Stormfront is interesting because I’m used to playing sort of bad girl characters, meaning like deeply traumatized or self-destructive women who are not necessarily seen as the girl next door but have a heart of gold. Stormfront is sort of the opposite in that she’s like a ballsy girl next door with a heart of acid. That’s a really interesting dynamic as I’m used to characters doing the other switch. But it’s really fun to play a character who you even agree with sometimes but her intentions are not good.”
On Stormfront’s dark history, Cash said: “Stormfront’s complicated and dark history is part of the reason I was excited to step into this role. I am not who would be typically cast in this kind of role for many reasons, and I think that’s what makes it interesting in this context. The comic books were written more than ten years ago and have their own world, and I feel like The Boys series is using it as a jumping-off point, and certain updates needed to happen.”
“There’s going to be people who come after just the fact that Stormfront is being played by a woman, and think they’re doing that because we need more women on the show. What I appreciate about this show is that they were doing it with intentionality. It is about how do we update the character for this moment and clothe the character in the cute, palatable nature that is also cloaked in darkness. I do think that the writers have done a wonderful job of updating the comics for our current moment. The comics are essentially the starting material and the show is the spirit of the comic book.”
Starr added: “It’s a credit to the writing team that they carve out pieces from the comic book and keep the elements that are necessary to create the show while keeping the integrity of that of the comic, but removing some of the stuff that would make the show unable to air.”
On how Homelander is handing the tables being turned on him this season, Starr mentioned: “I’ve got to be honest, I had a hell of a good time in season one. TV and long-form storytelling are great, and we’re lucky over the past two seasons and being picked up for a third, to get a chance to revisit these characters and do different things with them, really flush them out in a way that you cannot necessarily do in a film. From my perspective, season one was all new and all discovery, pushing things to see what works and what does not. Then just when you think you have the character down, and you are relatively comfortable, someone like Eric Kripke comes along and takes everything away. Now, you are back in that discovery in a different way and you know the character, but you don’t know what they will do in these new circumstances.”
“Season one was a very external season for Homelander, it was very much about him trying to find his place externally in the world and be more. He believed that he could do more, and when Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue, The Saint) tried to keep him in his place, he went out and made terrorists and took initiative on his own. Then he ultimately dispensed of her despite his personal feelings. Season two is all about now that we’ve done that, what does that mean? What are we left with and what new problems present themselves? And a big problem for Homelander this season is Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito, Once Upon a Time). So, season two is a much more internal journey like in Star Wars, it’s Luke’s venture into the cave to confront himself. It’s just so much fun to have material like this to dip into and we’ve got a creative team that keeps everything fresh and keeps that process of discovery moving forward.”
On what secrets Stormfront is hiding, Cash said: “I can’t really tease any secrets but I will just say that I think the relationship that she has with Homelander that tension is going to play out throughout the season and they are going to have some really fun clashes.”