The Boys star Dominique McElligott on Queen Maeve in season 3: 'Is she going to find redemption?'
Queen Maeve speaks!
While we did not get a chance to talk to The Boys actress Dominique McElligott for the season 2 postmortem digital cover story, we did right after the finale. Now that she's gotten a sense of the huge response this season has garnered, she tells EW, "It's been amazing. To be on a show that people have responded to so favorably is always nice, and to be a part of a collaboration that has enjoyed that process. It's nice to see people responding to it in a positive way."
We talked to McElligott about how Queen Maeve found her way from under Homelander's thumb in season 2, how her dynamic with Starlight has changed, and whether or not she's an actual hero.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Going into season 2, Queen Maeve is in a dark place having to continue to put up with her coworkers in the Seven. To what degree do you see Queen Maeve as Homelander's victim? Is there anything about their relationship that we maybe haven't seen on screen, but that you and the writers keep in mind?
DOMINIQUE MCELLINGOTT: I'm actually wondering what has been shared and what hasn't, because I kind of get confused, we've gone back and forth on this conversation, and I'm trying to think what it was. Homelander and Maeve were together, but I think it was for the public's sake, it was more of a staged thing. Maybe it wasn't staged from Homelander's perspective, but it was more of a staging for Maeve because of her sexuality and the fact that everything about Maeve is sort of cultivated once she joins Vought. Once she becomes Queen Maeve, it's a cultivated, marketed image of her persona that she's embodying. So when they split, Homelander has taken that relationship very seriously and is heartbroken about it, and Maeve, because she knows him so well, she's able to work with him in such a way that he kind of has respect for her. But obviously, it's a really tough situation for Maeve because she's dealing with basically being bullied by Homelander and on top of that bullying, her sexuality is being hidden, and her identity and her authenticity are being suppressed. So over time, she becomes quite a jaded version of herself. And I think Homelander plays a huge role in that, given that he's this narcissistic sociopath.
How has it been to play a character that both brings the queer representation superhero stories are lacking, and also pokes fun of the kind of PR campaign around it?
Yeah I mean, I think that question would be best answered in the context of the fact that this show is a satire, and satire can be so humanizing because it explores themes such as all those social issues. And it's a powerful way to highlight our inadequacies as a society, and the dichotomy between our shortcomings and this perceived idealism of being a superhero. You see that in the marketing and on all of that stuff that happens within Vought and how it's sort of idealized.
I never really looked at it from that perspective, from Maeve as a gay superhero. To me, she was a superhero, but it was more about the suppression of her authentic self and how that's a cultivated image within Vought, this whole Queen Maeve image, and she's suppressing her sexuality. And even within the dynamic with Homelander, because she's suppressing the fact that she's the strongest woman in the world. She has to play second fiddle to Homelander because he's this alpha male and he's this crazy lunatic.
On a different note, people really love the relationship that Queen Maeve is building with Starlight. It's both a mentorship, and a stricter, older sister kind of deal. Probably our favorite line of the season is "Take your f—ing twink and get the f— outta here." So first, who came up with that line, and then what's your take on Queen Maeve and Starlight's dynamic?
So I'm definitely not responsible for any of the lines, not a single line. That's not me at all. That's the talented writers in the writing room. Let me see, in its most idealized form it's a mentorship between Queen Maeve and Starlight, but it's a very tentative kind of alliance. Queen Maeve is somebody who's running on empty. She's got an empty tank. She's totally jaded from suppressing who she really is and playing a role that she can't do anymore. She's just too tired and jaded and all those things. So when Starlight comes along and she seems to be this, in Maeve's eyes, damsel in distress always looking to Maeve for guidance and advice. And you know, Queen Maeve a lot of times, saves the day.
She tries to help out when she can, and that's the thing, Queen Maeve at her core is a good person, but she's done with being frivolous, and being that superficial, charming prerequisite that you need for friendship. It's gone from Maeve. She doesn't have it. So I think the midwest Starlight doesn't understand that. She's just like, "I don't get this broad. What's her problem?" And so there's a disconnect there. I don't think there's ever going to be anything more than a disconnect, but at the same time, Queen Maeve is essentially a good human who's going to try her best to help.
Do you see that resentment about not being able to be her authentic self playing a role in her relationship with Starlight? Like Maeve isn't trying to play an active role in helping Starlight reform Vought, but she's not doing anything to stop her.
Yes, absolutely. She's not going to try and control the outcome with regard to Starlight. She's just kind of in the background dealing with her own stuff. So I guess in a way she's preoccupied.
Of course, one of the biggest highlights of the season is that big finale battle where Maeve, Starlight, and Kimiko beat up Stormfront. How'd you prepare for it? What was it like shooting it? And what do you think of the final version?
It looks great. It came at the very tail end. I think I remember it was my second to last day. It took a few days, yeah. It was a lot of fun to do it. And it was an epic finale, it was cool. I love the whole theme of Girls Get It Done, and that whole thing. It's cool to be part of such a strong group of women.
What's next for Maeve, or what would you like to see next for Maeve? Do you think her standing up to Homelander in the finale was the breakthrough that she needed?
Yeah, I think so. And that's why for Maeve going forward, anything could happen. I think it's really encouraging her to take action and there's no going back now. I think for Maeve, because Homelander is such a threat, there's no going back. She's dealing with a narcissistic sociopath, so good luck to her. I have no idea what's going to happen.
On the flip side of that, do you think Maeve has any chance of being an actual hero, or do you think she's too far gone having been subjugated by Homelander?
Well, isn't that the crux of it? That's everything for Maeve. As an actor playing Maeve, that's the core little thing that I feel when I'm doing a scene. Is she utterly hopeless? And that shred of hope, it's like Pandora's box, where everything's flying out and hope is left. To me, everything about Maeve and what she does, and what she says, is so raw and so on the nose that it can be very much perceived as distasteful. But that's what I really love about her journey, is that it's a do-or-die situation. Is she going to find redemption? Is she going to not only survive but thrive (to sound really fricking cheesy)? But really just thrive in a sense of going forward, like is that possible for Maeve? Is it out there for Maeve? Is she that far gone? You don't know. We have to hope that there's maybe a happy ending for Maeve...If we haven't read the comic books. We're just going to pretend we haven't read the comic books.