The Boys is one of the best genre series on TV, and it’s currently wrapping up its final season with some of the biggest stakes—and character growth—yet. Anthony Starr’s Homelander has faced a surprising array of challenges this season, while Erin Moriarty’s Annie January/Starlight has grown considerably in every way imaginable. I sat down with Starr and Moriarty to chat their characters’ journeys, the show’s relevance for our world, and more.
[To Anthony] Homelander enters Season 3 in a rougher-than-ever state after what happened Season 2. What’s the core of his struggle this season? And why does it make him more malicious than ever?
Anthony Starr: Homelander is the ‘eternal victim,’ so he’s never felt more persecuted than he feels at the start of this season in particular. That’s really what this season is about for him. It’s like the little kid that wants to ride a bike, and he’s always had his mother figure there in the form of training wheels… now we take the training wheels off, and he’s on his own, so it’s really about him being free of the shackles of the corporation’s expectations, and the money figures, and him doing his own thing.
What he learns throughout the course of the season is that, you know, be careful what you wish for, might just get it. It’s sort of the idea that, along with the freedom of his newfound power and position, comes responsibility, and clean up, and he is accountable in a way that he never has been. It’s a fun little trip for him, a little bit ‘Trump-in-the-White-House ‘what do these buttons do?’
‘I can do whatever I want!’
AS: *laughs* How do I do whatever I want… if I do whatever I want, how do I do whatever I’ve done?
And Erin, Starlight’s also in a really interesting position this season. She gets elevated to co-captain of The Seven, and she becomes increasingly disillusioned both with the challenge of changing Voight from within and against Butcher’s ruthless, unscrupulous methods. What does she learn about leadership this season, and her own take on it?
Erin Moriarty: I think she literally refines her strategy, defines and clarifies it, basically. She’s spent the past couple of seasons and the beginning of Season Three going through that internal debate of whether she’s going to challenge Voight from within or outside of Voight, and she’s definitely misaligned with Voight but she’s not aligned with Butcher. She does work with Hughie occasionally, but I think that, ultimately, what this season really entails is her continuing that debate, integrating what she’s learned in the past two seasons, going through the Co-Captain situation and realizing the reality of it, figuring out exactly what she needs to do to accomplish what she wants to accomplish.
That involves exactly what you’re talking about, working inside of the organization or outside, and I think she feels this increasing desire to shed this facade she’s been wearing that for three years that has just ultimately been pretty abrasive on her psyche and has involved a lot of personal sacrifices. She’s ready to alleviate herself of the weight…
AS: She’s sheddin’ it.
EM: She’s sheddin’ that skin. *laughs* It’s shaken off, and there’s a new Annie in town, that’s all I’m saying. Consider that a warning!
I personally wouldn’t get in her way, because I don’t like to lose. The emergence of Soldier Boy also challenges the pair’s already tense situation, though for different reasons for each—and for no one more than Homelander, for very personal reasons. Let’s talk about that.
AS: Yeah, he’s a spanner-in-the-works, that chap. Poor Homelander, I can’t help but feel sorry for him because just when he gets power, the company, and everything’s going great, then Jensen Ackles turns up who was better in every way. And, you know, Anthony- the-actor, I tried really hard not to like Jensen, but I lost.
EM: That’s impossible, yeah.
AS: I adore him, and then the character became hysterically funny and one of my favorites, and I was like, ‘oh, golly gee, shucks,’ he’s great, man. It’s great having a character like that come into Season Three, it just rattles the cage for everyone, and like you said, for one moreso than Homelander.
It does end up being the most conflicted relationship for him that maybe he’s ever experienced, he really doesn’t understand what to do with it but decides to put all his eggs in one basket and really go for it, to try and get what he’s always wanted, which is family and connection and all that, and he puts his son directly in harm’s way to try and achieve it! But yeah, details.
It’s great in a show like this, where the engine of the show [is that] The Boys are put together by Butcher and basically on a revenge quest, right? So there’s two apex predators in the show, and then you’ve got a third that drops themselves squarely in the middle and it’s really a push-and-pull experience for everyone as that plays out in season three.
EM: Yeah, you add an apex predator to that equation that already has too many predators and it just ups the stakes even more. I think that Annie is like, ‘alright, I got a lot to conquer. I got crime to conquer. I got Homelander to conquer, and now Soldier Boy, it’s a lot of things to conquer. I’m not saying she’s not going to do it, but it just ups the stakes, which are already life and death.
‘One more? Really?’
EM: Exactly. Homelander 1.0? There’s already one too many Homelanders in the world.
AS: One more Everest to climb.
Absolutely. Let’s talk about Homelander’s birthday celebration… in a moment of unabashed Id, he basically erupts in a Trump-like appeal to people’s baser instincts, and exceptionalism, and somehow it works. Why does it work in The Boys’ world?
AS: I mean it works in The Boys’ world because of the same reasons it works in the real world. I mean, look at what’s happened in the real world, how the political elite and the business elite, which are basically the same thing, how they’ve taken advantage and created divides over the past decades, or maybe more to get us to this point where people really just want someone to be honest. And it almost doesn’t matter what shape that person takes, they just want to hear something. Everyone’s feeling so left out and forgotten that if someone actually turns and puts a spotlight on them, regardless who’s holding the spotlight, it’s like ‘someone’s giving us the attention that we need.’ It’s not just want anymore, it’s need, and I think that’s true of the real world.
I think that’s true of the universe and the world that we’ve created. You know, it’s really refreshing to see anyone in power actually tell something honestly and forthrightly. Actually, almost across the board doesn’t matter who it is, just seeing someone tell the truth or their version of it…. there’s an authenticity that people relate to. It’s a pretty obvious metaphor, this season in particular, but it’s always been there. Elements of that’ve been there since day one on the show, but yeah it definitely comes through this season.
You know, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Herogasm.
EM: Yeah, of course.
AS: I’m gonna hand it off to my friend, here.
EM: I just… *sighs* my first moment at Herogasm involves a giant dick sniffing my face, right? So it sets the tone pretty quickly, walk into a house, and I’ve never spent so much time, over the course of a week, around naked bodies that were simulating sex that looked really real. It was a lot on the senses. I’ve told the story before but, you know, the whole house was decked out in various sex toys, some of which I was like… how does that fit in the human body? But I’m not looking that up because I don’t want to know.
AS: It very was super-human.
EM: Exactly, exactly. But I was walking around kind of touching the dildos, some of which are Starlight themed. There’s a Homelander one, there’s just all sorts of stuff. There’s a sex swing. And I’m like, ‘You know what? I feel like I need to clean my hands.’ And I go to squirt hand sanitizer, and the whole crew is like ‘no, no, no, no!’ It was lube, because there were just bottles of lube all around, you know, because you’re at an orgy, and if you need…
I will say that I did learn that it makes a really good moisturizer, but I’m good. It was… what was the experience like? It was hilarious, wild, ultimately excessive, and you know, educational, it was definitely educational. There are a lot of things that I’m glad I saw. There are a lot of things that have been seared into my memory that I can’t unsee, but it was ultimately hilarious. Teaming up with Mother’s Milk for that episode was just so fun, so absolutely I loved it, but it was a lot.
I hope that he gets his jacket cleaned properly.
EM: Exactly. I mean, he’s OCD, right? So I think that jacket’s thrown in the trash.
I wanted to ask Anthony a question about one particular aspect of Homelander’s future. Being a father changes people sometimes… do you personally expect that it’ll change him for the better or is just making a mini-me his goal?
AS: I definitely don’t think you can rule out the genetic ego factor because I think he would find it pretty snazzy to have a little laser-blasting mini-me zooming around, someone to be proud of when they laser people. I can’t see… even if there was a short term turnaround in this guy, I think there’s elements… like he loves the kid. He loves his kid, and so it does bring out good sides of him but he’s so corrupted, the damage is already done. He’s used goods, and I think irretrievably damaged, so I don’t think it can ever end in a particularly good place.
I would also argue, personally, I don’t really want to go down that route too far with the character because I think it’s fun watching him stumble. He’s loving towards the boy, but ultimately.. we’re pushing him off the roof in Season 2, and he knows he’s not gonna get hurt because it’s his son and of course he’s not going to get hurt, he’s right. Takes a bump on the nut but then he’s not even damaged. He wants the kid to know who he is because, like he says, he doesn’t get it himself. So there is this very twisted, loving dark psychology going on and the whole father-son deal here, I think it’s much more fun to go down the messy route rather than the clean ‘yeah, he gets it right and it’s fun and nice to watch.’ And look, given our writers, maybe we go down one path for a minute, whatever we start doing will quickly get undone anyway… so who knows where it’s gonna go, my friend.
No happy-go-lucky, Homelander becomes a good dad arc.
AS: Every time I think I know where things going. I’m wrong. So I’m going to save myself in that respect.
The Boys Season 3 finale just dropped on Prime Video.