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The old adage states that power corrupts, so it's easy to understand the rabbit hole superheroes could potentially fall down. After all, their extraordinary gifts almost make them gods … and what god doesn't enjoy being worshipped? Welcome to The Boys.
Based on the comic book series by writer Garth Ennis and illustrator Darick Robertson, Amazon's upcoming TV series of the same name takes place in a world in which vapid superheroes relish their fame and fortune and abuse their powers for personal gain. The biggest offenders are the Seven, a dark Justice League parody and the Earth's premier superhero team, which consists of the Homelander, Black Noir, Queen Maeve, A-Train, the Deep, and Starlight.
Set to premiere on July 26, The Boys revolves around Billy Butcher and the Boys, a group of non-powered CIA operatives tasked with exposing the truth about the Seven and ultimately ending their reign.
Last September, SYFY WIRE and a small group of press visited The Boys on location in Toronto. Although not filming that afternoon, a casually dressed Chace Crawford sat down to discuss his character, the Deep. A longstanding member of the Seven — and obviously a jab at DC Comics' Aquaman — the insecure Deep embraces his celebrity status and consequently commits one of the most heinous acts on the TV series.
Crawford spoke about the show's dark twist on superheroes, fleshing out the Deep; his character's sleeker, redesigned costume; and tackling sensitive material.
Can we just talk about the redesign of your costume? It's pretty awesome. What was your first reaction when you saw it and the first reaction when you put it on?
You mean the redesign from the comics? I was just happy I didn't have to wear that big fishbowl. I was like, "Oh my face is gonna be there? Perfect!"
We went out there to Burbank or somewhere and it was a full, four-month process [to make the suits], but they start with the [body] casting, so I got the foams and the goop. They do like three layers of plaster over your head for like an hour and a half, and that was nerve-racking and cool at the same time, and then they did the big body scan, CGI thing and they make a mannequin out of you.
The attention to detail was so, so cool. On camera, it looks so good. The first time we did the camera test with everyone, it was just like, "Wow."
Because the world, they shoot it so realistically. These superheroes exist in this world, and the lighting looks so good. Anyway, the suits on camera, they have that texture to them. Mine's sleeveless, so they give us some help here and some help here, so I had to make sure my arms and shoulders were filling out the suit — [not] noodle arms coming out of this sleeveless thing. But the gloves are my favorite, because they're fun and they got the see-through fins on the side, but it's a cool costume. It's a full wetsuit.
Why did you want to do a subversion of the superhero thing? I could easily see you in a regular superhero thing.
The character drew me to it. I hadn't read much about [the comics]. And Kripke's the best. He's got such a good vision for it, Eric Kripke.
For me, I like to do comedy, and I was looking for something to have a lot of fun with. I thought this was the perfect thing where I can do both: I can play a superhero, do some action, and have a ton of fun with it. They let me do some improv. They are very collaborative and sort of "the best idea wins," and so I'm always trying to squeeze in the jokes when I can and improv some lines when I can, as opposed to playing a straight, on-the-nose superhero. I think that's just a little bit less exciting than getting to play the dark, comedic character.
It's being flipped on its head, and it's a cool direction to take it all, 'cause we're so saturated with superhero stuff. To play something where the superheroes are the bad guys, that got me really excited.
What is your character's personality like?
That's a good question. He's definitely a try-hard a little bit, tries to play the cool guy but overcompensates a little bit and maybe lies to other people, especially to Starlight about his status within the Seven.
He's like, "I'm No. 2 behind Homelander." He's seemingly a little bit of a douchebag, and for me, that's fun to play. I think he likes when they want him in front of the camera, when Vought wants him, he loves to be in front of the camera, to have his moment to shine. He just wants to be the guy in the spotlight. And obviously, he's trying to chase women a little bit and always validate himself, find validation through that, through all those false things.
So, what it does it mean to the Deep to be a superhero besides finding that as a source of validation?
He's had these powers for a long time. I think because he's one of the guys who could be in the X-Men world, where he feels deep down that he's a freak, and so he's always trying to hide the fact that he has gills so people don't really know, and he's trying to balance that out with the way that he looks, but he was also bullied in high school.
He feels at home with the Seven. So, to fall from grace and to be kicked out of that would be a complete loss of identity. He's on his own little journey in the first season. I go off on my own little tangent world and storyline.
He sounds kind of nice, certainly compared to the rest of the Seven, no?
I wouldn't say he's nice.
Like a normal douchebag.
Well, I don't know if I can actually say, but he does do some bad things in the pilot, and he lies to Starlight in a way and that comes back to bite him in the ass.
Yeah, he's kind of an a**hole, but you feel sorry for him in a way because we see how inept he is. He doesn't even really know how to go grocery shopping — and there's a scene there. Everything's done for these guys. They are the top one percent of the one percent. They are so used to being babied and catered to, and they have so much power and money. They get these contracts [to protect] these cities. It's just interesting to see what happens to a person like that who loses all of that.
I wanted to ask about Starlight, especially because in the comics our first introduction to the Seven is when Starlight is sexually assaulted by Homelander and other members of the Seven. How does the show approach that?
Well, they approached it directly by putting it in there. And [in the show] it wasn't Homelander, it's this guy [points to himself].
So, yeah, I don't know. It was different in the version I read, but then they changed it. They decided it would be better to deal with it head-on and weave it in the story as a jumping-off point for her character. That's the type of show they want to make. They want it to be edgy and real and face things like that head-on. It's a jumping-off point for both of our characters because of the downfall that he has. She becomes stronger because of it. But we'll see, I guess. We'll see.
Obviously, this is a big antihero piece. How necessary is it to come after the world is so versed in regular superheroes? Are people ready for this?
I don't know! I think they are. I think it'll be a breath of fresh air for people who are fans of comics, at least.
Obviously, we want to go for the wide audience, and I think it's super-entertaining, but also the superheroes are a part of the world. The Boys are a massive part of this world, being the vigilante blue-collar group coming after us. You see so many of the superhero movies going after the same tropes and nailing it on the head. It's just fun to see these corrupt guys on the front, but also behind the scenes they are doing all these assaulting and taking down.
You said the one percent of the one percent. How much of this is class-based struggle?
I think that's definitely the subtext in there, for sure. I think that's part of the reason the Butcher and the Boys hate these superheroes. There's obviously some personal history there between them that we come to find out, but it's really sort of, "F*** these guys." They can do whatever they want. They do whatever they want, and the whole world thinks that they don't, but [the Boys] know what they're really about. It's like, "Let's take these guys down."
There's a thousand, maybe 2,000 superheroes in the world, [and] there's the top seven, and these guys have too much power, and they just take and take and take. So it's fun to see "Whoa, they're really bad," and then have them being taken down is hopefully a good payoff.