Welcome back to the home of ScreenGeek. Grab a chair and make yourself comfortable if you haven’t already. This time on our four-day exclusive-athon interviews with the cast and crew of The Boys, I had chat with Eric Kripke. The showrunner of Amazon’s hit show and I discuss what it takes to keep viewers and comic book readers of the same title guessing, exactly how the hell did he snag Giancarlo, Esposito, and what’s the deal with Fresca.
Since The Boys is a well-known comic book and has been read by millions of people, what’s the process in the writing room to keep the fans and the comic book readers guessing?
Eric Kripke: It’s stressful. It’s not easy because I don’t think we can adapt the material directly. I think that would create a product that isn’t so great. They’re just different mediums. And comics are a medium based on space and film is a medium based on time and you just have to—you can’t one to one translate them—but by the same respect, you need to pay proper respect to the materials. So, it’s a strange combination where you have to be completely reverence and completely irreverence at the same time. Generally, our approach is we come up with the most part, a different story because Amazon needs a serialized story and the comic is fairly episodic, actually. We generally create a structure of our own story and then we just try to get the tone and the characters right. If we feel the tone and the characters are recognizable, then people will just sort of understand that this is The Boys.
The first season, every episode dropped in one day and I know this season, you guys are doing three and then it’s going to be released every week. Why was that decision made?
Eric Kripke: That idea to air on a weekly schedule actually came from the producers. It didn’t come from Amazon. I’d say if anything, Amazon was nervous about it but we really wanted to do it. The reason is that it’s a really crazy show and crazy things happen every episode. When it all aired at once, there was just sort of this sugar rush of about a week of everyone talking about the big moments in the show. The facesitting or the dolphin through the window or whatever. But there were a lot of other interesting moments that sort of got lost in the shuffle because everyone was consuming eight hours almost at once. We wanted to slow down the delivery just a little bit. It’s just five weeks but, just so people can stop and obsess about each episode and give each episode the credit it deserves before they move on to the next one.
You guys got Giancarlo Esposito as Edgar and I love that guy’s work. I’ve been watching him since his Spike Lee films. How were you able to get him on your show?
Eric Kripke: I know. He so classes my shit up and he really is one of the great actors. It’s a funny story, acutally. He was one of the leads of my show, Revolution, which I did a while ago and we knew each other and we’re friendly. I was up in Toronto shooting the show and he happened to be on the same stage complex, shooting another show. We literally bumped into each other in the hallway and we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years. And I was like, “Giancarlo!” and he said, “Eric!”, we hugged. We were catching up and “what are you doing here?” and “what are you doing here?” and he said, “Man, I would love to work with you again.” I said, “Funny, you should mention that…” Because, this is at the end of season one, and I said, “I’m directing an episode and I need this really powerful CEO to show up and would you come out for a day and do it? ” And he was like, “Yeah, I’m in town! Of course, I’m there.” I don’t think he realized it was going to become a role. I think I snuck him. I think I was a little sneaky and got him. Then in season two of The Boys, we started writing all this amazing stuff for him, and thank God, he agreed to do it.
We know Elisabeth Shue’s character was able to keep Homelander on a leash, but now, Edgar isn’t taking his shit. How much of a threat is Edgar going to be to Homelander and his ultimate plan?
Eric Kripke: There’s certainly no love lost between those two characters and Stillwell was a manager and she was very good at managing her talent and sweet-talking to them and flattering them. Edgar is the CEO of a multinational corporation that makes pharmaceuticals and weapons of which the superheroes are only one division. So I think he treats the superheroes like probably Rupert Murdoch would have treated 20th Century Fox. This weird little division off to the side. I think that makes him not scared of Homelander and not particularly interested in kissing Homelander’s ass, which is really hard for Homelander because he needs everybody to kiss his ass all the time. I’d say they really clash and Homelander, who only wants to be taken seriously, is completely taken un-seriously by Edgar and I think that drives him nuts.
The Boys comic book is super gory. Is that going to be ramped up in season two or even in season three?
Eric Kripke: I think it’s still very gory and I think there are so many totally bananas moments in season two. I think there’s going to be quite a lot to make gifs from but we don’t play the game of, “do we top it”? or “Do we make it bigger?” I actually think that’s a trap because if you keep trying to top yourself, you’ll end up being so big and inflated and silly that you’ll jump the shark. I think you just always want to try to dig deeper into the characters and the deeper you go, the more crazy moments will occur to you because they help advance the character story. If it’s always grounded in what the characters are going through at that moment, no matter how insane it is, it’s important for me to understand the characters more, then I think it works. I think it feels more substantial to the audience cause you’re not being shocking for its own sake.
In the comics, The Boys use a form of Compound V to rival the superheroes or give them the spanking they deserve. The Female has those type of powers in the show. Is there ever a chance that the rest of The Boys might end up taking Compound V to better compete with the Supes?
Eric Kripke: Well, they certainly will not in season two. That’s for sure. I think it’s really important that they are underdogs and that they’re outmatched. To me, the core concept of the show is these powerless people taking on the powerful and if you put them on an even playing field with the superheroes, I think you lose something there. I think eventually, I see them potentially taking V for maybe temporary moments. It’d be interesting to see them with superpowers for like a day. But by no means, am I going to turn them into superhumans cause I think that makes it too easy for them.
That makes sense. Otherwise, this is like God mode all the time.
Eric Kripke: And it’s just like every other superhero show.
One thing I did notice and it’s no spoiler, but what’s up with the Fresca in the show? There’s a couple of hard shots of that particular drink.
Eric Kripke: Oh yeah and that joke continues, my friend, that’s a runner through the whole season. We double, triple, and quadruple down on the Fresca joke. There’s not much behind it. It’s just funny to us that we were writing a scene where Eagle The Archer offers a beverage to The Deep and Eagle is a member of this cult. So, it led to a discussion of like, “Well, what do cult members drink, exactly?” And we were cycling through things and then someone said, I don’t remember who it was, “I bet they drink Fresco.” And we just always show them happy cause it just feels right somehow. Like, Fresca is the official drink of cult members.
It’s like the hipster version of the Koolaid or something like that.
Eric Kripke: Yeah exactly! I actually think their marketing next year is going to be “come join a cult”. So, we just did it and then it made us laugh so much that we just kept putting Fresca more and more and more and it’s just a completely random detail.
Last question. Vought and the Vought News Network sounds very familiar to a news network that’s claiming to be on the “Left”. So, in this season, are we going to delve more into Vought’s other operations?
Eric Kripke: We do get into some other levels and divisions of Vought and we get to see more of the company. We actually don’t get into VNN as much, but we are going to get into it in season three. For the record, I want to say that VNN is way more like Fox News, like CNN, man. I think CNN still tries to and I think Fox News is a completely fictional entertainment organization. So, I think VNN is a very Fox type channel and we’re going to really explore that next in season three.
Come back for more exclusive interviews with the cast and crew of The Boys right here on ScreenGeek.net