In Amazon Prime’s The Boys Season 2 finale, Antony Starr’s Homelander goes through the full spectrum of feelings when he finds the mutilated body of his girlfriend Stormfront, then triggers an almost unbalanced laugh after being rejected by his own son Ryan. Below, TVLine Dream Emmy nominee Starr and episode writer Rebecca Sonnenshine revisit the villain’s surprisingly vulnerable moment and his memorable cackle.
ANTONY STARR | I’m always hungry for more scenes with Karl [Urban as Butcher] and also all the scenes that really push my character, Homelander, out of his comfort zone and really extend me and extend the character… So at the beginning, when I had [the script], I was really excited. And then it’s just a process of getting involved and digging in, and really trying to focus on the guts and get as far as you can and see how far we can go with that.
REBECCA SONENSHINE | It’s amazing what Antoine can do with his face. I think a lot of the dialogue was kind of taken out of that scene to let it play. You can see in his face that he’s torn in a million directions. The way he behaves in this scene and the way he uses his voice and his face, it’s like he wants to kill this kid. But he also wants this child to love him. These things all play in his face.
STAR | We didn’t have a lot of time to shoot this scene. I believe it was about two-thirds of a day, which isn’t a lot of time when you have so many players involved and so much material. So, it wasn’t necessarily designed to come out as well as I think it would. … Even the tracks that were scripted felt very improvised, which is a great place to be.
SONNENSHINE | I do not think so [the laugh] was scripted… The reason it’s so amazing writing for Antony is you think of a million ways to act out a scene and then he picks a million and one and you’re like:, but it’s so inventive. He’s so inventive; he gets right to the truth of a moment.
STAR | You need to be careful with these things because they can feel really forced. But it was emotionally full… You have to laugh or you have to cry, but then [the laugh] turned into a little cry.
SONNENSHINE | What Anthony often said is that there is a certain pleasure in mad people. [Homelander] has nothing to lose, ever. He can do anything. And so sometimes, [Antony will] choose to play something while laughing. It breaks your heart, because it is this exit, in a way, that is unexpected. That’s what’s amazing about Antony’s performance. You can’t script something like this. If you did, it would sound bad.