With less than two weeks to go until the highly anticipated premiere of The Boys season two, The Beat spoke with Giancarlo Esposito (The Mandalorian) about his stoic and dangerous role as the head of Vought International, Stan Edgar. The illustrious actor chatted with us about how he got the role, Stan’s unusual relationship with Homelander (Antony Starr, American Gothic), where Stan’s true loyalties lie, and so much more!

On Stan & Homelander’s complex and even familial relationship dynamic, Esposito shared:

“Well, you know, I love the villain to villain dynamic, because I always feel like I’m going to win depending on how my character’s written, which is always informing me of the power that Stan has. But when you have that kind of power, particularly within a huge company an explanation sometimes is worthy. So, with Stan and Homelander, there is the possibility of a father-son dynamic in terms of Stan educating Homelander on what the company really does. When it comes out, I think it’s going to be a surprise not only to Homelander but to our audience as well.”

“Every member of The Seven feels like they were born with these powers, and Stan knows differently. Stan has been cultivating/manipulating them and preying upon their desire to become stars. Homelander feels like he is the biggest star. So, I’m interested in exploring the idea that Stan would be able to share certain things with Homelander in regards to helping him grow up. Part of Stan wants to look at him and say, ‘Homelander grow up!’ When I look at previous episodes, I realize Homelander is a real dangerous wild card. So, how will Stan play him? We don’t yet know but I do know that Homelander doesn’t have the power he thinks he does. Stan often looks at Homelander and sees a sensitive little child who is looking for love, looking to be complimented, and looking for his self-esteem to be boosted. Ultimately, he’s looking really for a parent and so, I think you’re on to something there that’s worth investigating.”

On his secret to playing these effective, terrifying antagonists, Esposito told us:

“I think my real secret is being centered. As I watch Stan, he seems so different than some of the other powerful and in control characters I’ve played before. And I was looking and going, why is that? Well, he’s not rocked by the world. He’s a guy who’s on top of the world and when circumstances happen, his focus is taking steps to mitigate the damage. Something Stan says to Homelander that gets to him is: ‘You know, you’re running around thinking you’re running the show, and I have to mitigate all the damage because you’ve allowed the public to know what Compound V is.’ So, I feel like my secret is to listen, you know, I really take Antony in when I’m in those very intense scenes with him.”

“I feel like I’m not threatened by anyone or anything because I’m going to find a solution and I’m going to find a way to convince any of The Seven, even Homelander with his big ego, to come to me with their problems. I’m going to try to figure out how to have them understand that everything and Vought’s overall goal, is bigger than they are. The buck stops with Stan and he understands that to have power, you don’t have to display that. You either have power or you don’t. Real power is being calm and not getting excited when you’re confronted with an emotional person. It’s having the ability to take a step back and to have a different mindset about how the situation will unfold.” 

On how he came aboard the show, Esposito said:

“You know, I have fallen in love with this show, but all of this happened completely by accident. I was in the studio in Canada shooting something else and turned a corner and there was showrunner Eric Kripke, with his team, whom I knew and loved from working on Revolution. After catching up, he takes that proverbial director/producer step back and crosses his arms and goes into how he wanted me to join the show.”

On bringing Stan’s quiet and calculating layers to life on a tonally diverse show, Esposito shared with us:

“So, I went into The Boys, did a scene and it was easy and fun, and I love Eric. Then, I started to really think about who Stan was and how he could be developed. And that’s when I realized, oh, there’s an opportunity here. There’s an opportunity to reflect on the power of big corporations, and their power in manipulating people to get them to be superheroes in our case. I started to see all the similarities between what’s going on in America today and how Stan is, in a way, a political and socioeconomic corporate guy. Then I started to see a whole new world open up and I said, oh, wow, this could be bigger than just one corporation. This could be many corporations guiding the fate of the planet. And I thought this is an interesting playground to work in and themes to play within my thinking.”

On where Stan’s loyalties lie, Esposito told us:

“For me, my answer would be with Stan and then after himself, his loyalties lie with Vought. A bigger system and picture going are on here that’s more significant than any of the singular players involved. My methodology and thinking are that Stan is a company man who will always guide you to the science. This is very important because the science in our show is driving the narrative. What is Compound V? How is it? Where does it come from? We just found out that you’re not born with it, but there is so much more.”

“So, Stan’s loyalties lie to the corporation, as well as to the people because he’s providing a service after all. His service is he’s grooming the superheroes that the world needs. And what’s lovely about this show is the superheroes have a human element to them, they’re fallible. And Stan knows that because they are human, to begin with, which is such an interesting dynamic within the show in that regard. But Stan’ trying to further the science of genetics. He’s trying to empower people to understand that it is a bigger world than they think it is. And many secrets are going to come about in the upcoming episodes that you guys will just be titillated by.”

The Boys season two begins streaming weekly on Amazon Prime on September 4th.