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Shedding some light on Lamplighter: A fiery primer for Shawn Ashmore's The Boys debut

By Josh Weiss
Shawn Ashmore The Boys

Flame on! After five episodes, The Boys' second season finally gave us our first glimpse at Lamplighter, an ex-member of The Seven played by X-Men veteran Shawn Ashmore. The character, who briefly appears around the 41-minute mark, seems to be colluding with the racist Stormfront, aka Liberty (played by Aya Cash) on something, and it's clearly weighing heavily on his conscience. We have yet to see Lamplighter's flame abilities in action, but the lighter he fiddles with — engraved with the lewd phrase "Titty Committee" — is a nice little indication of his combustible gifts.

"I mean honestly that was one of the things that I was really interested about when I read this role. I was like, 'Wouldn't this be funny?'" said Ashmore, who ironically played the frigid-powered Iceman in Fox's X-Men movies. "And I don't know if this had anything to do with casting, but in my brain I was like, 'You know The Boys sort of subverts the superhero genre.' So I thought, for me anyway, I was like, 'Oh, this would be such an interesting casting choice. And I have no idea if that played into it, but in my brain, I was like, 'This would be amazing to kind of play the antithesis of Iceman.'"

Shawn Ashmore The Boys Season 2

As we've said before, SYFY WIRE has known about Ashmore's casting for a close to a year now. We even got to interview him while visiting The Boys set in Toronto last October. However, we couldn't say a thing about it until Amazon confirmed the news in early August. Even then, we still can't talk about the scene we watched him film.

What we can discuss, however, is the fact that Lamplighter was responsible for the deaths of Grace Mallory's (Laila Robins) grandchildren. It's the tragic event that drove the former leader of the Boys to early retirement. Interestingly enough, it's also what got Lamplighter kicked out of The Seven, opening the door for Starlight's (Erin Moriarty) hiring in Season 1. 

"We know that he's done a terrible thing, we now get to sort of discover why he did that and [the] motivations and how he fits into the framework of The Seven. It was fun to come with that backstory already set," Ashmore said. "I'm not going to spoil exactly who I get to work with, but everybody that I got to work with was very open... It wasn't just like, 'Oh, this character [just] shows up.' It's like, 'Oh, we know about this character, we've been thinking about this character.' So it was fun to step onto set and have those conversations with the existing cast members."

In the original Dynamite comics, the red-hot Supe uses a torch-like device to augment his powers. While we see a picture of him holding a flaming staff in the Season 1 premiere, it's probably safe to assume that he's traded in the ostentatious prop for the aforementioned lighter. In the comics, he's handed over to the Boys in order to prevent an all-out conflict with the C.I.A. (in the source material, the government agency oversees the Boys). Lamplighter was subsequently executed by the group, but later resurrected by Vought and hidden away in a locked room at The Seven's headquarters. He was never quite the same afterward, turning into a sort of feral and emaciated wild man living in his own filth.

"He's a bad guy that's done bad things. I don't want to spoil too much, but he has certain addictions that are pretty interesting and some habits that are pretty dark," Ashmore teased. "He's [also] a volatile guy. I think we discover how volatile he is and it's sort of based on the situation he's put in. He's very, very unhappy; he is under duress to do these things he doesn't want to do. And so, anyone he interacts with, they know exactly where he stands. He's not the friendliest guy. I think a lot of the stuff from the [comic] book carries over as far as his traits and who he is, but the story sort of goes in a slightly different direction."

The Boys #20 cover

Just the same, Ashmore promised that Lamplighter does get some moments of levity: "It's not just heavy." He's also excited at the prospect of fleshing out his character in the context of long-form storytelling.

"What I like about TV over film is that you do have a longer period of time to develop the character," he admitted. "What's great about film is you know exactly what you're doing — here's your story, here's the arc, you get to trace it. Whereas in television, it's sort of a little more piecemeal, but that's what I like about it. There's sort of a surprise element and you get to find things as you go."

As for where Lamplighter stands in the eyes of Vought, Ashmore revealed that "he's still within the fold." Perhaps hinting at the dirty work he's doing for Stormfront, he added: "Vought still has their thumb on him, so he's sort of required to do what they want — good and bad. I think he has mixed feelings about being around his former teammates and also what he's being asked to do. You know, there's definitely pressure being put on him to fulfill this new role that he's been put into."

And what of the costume (below) we briefly saw in the Season 1 debut? "Of course I got a costume, [it's] fantastic," Ashmore said. "The costume is honestly one of my favorites. It's awesome, it was so cool, and it took a long time to build. Like tons of fittings, a lot of detailed work. They put so much work into the super-suits, it's truly amazing. I love mine."

Lamplighter The Boys Season 1

Prior to being cast in Season 2, the actor was already a fan of the show's subversive take on comic book tropes.

"I was like, 'It's a superhero show I'll check it out,'" he recalled. "But then, the sense of humor, the sensibility, the darkness, the violence — mashing that all together — I was like, 'Well, this feels like something different.' So it's exciting to be within the genre. We're doing something slightly different."

The first five episodes of The Boys Season 2 are now streaming on Prime Video. The remaining installments (only three are left) are being released on a weekly basis every Friday. Aisha Tyler (Archer) is hosting a special aftershow for all eight episodes. A third season has already been ordered, with Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) set to appear as the Captain America-esque Soldier Boy, who, according to Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), was the result of sadistic Nazi experimentation.

For more of SYFY WIRE's set coverage of The Boys' second season, check out the stories below: