The Boys boss on the 'Terror' of filming with animals and making Dawn of the 7
Warning: Spoilers from The Boys season 2, episode 5 are discussed in this article.
When The Boys season 1 concluded last year, there were two big things on showrunner Eric Kripke's wishlist to tackle the following season: a single episode that brought Billy Butcher's humping dog Terror out of retirement and a movie-within-a-show called Dawn of the 7. Both were realized in the fifth episode in season 2, which aired Friday, even if they came with some emotional bumps and bruises inflicted along the way by the true diva on set... We're talking about Terror.
As Kripke previously told EW in a season 1 postmortem interview, Terror only appeared in one brief flashback scene because "it’s so f—ing hard to work with animals. We have such an unbelievably challenging show anyway that I was just too intimidated by the idea of having an animal who doesn’t listen to directors and doesn’t care about your stunt or pyrotechnic and your CG or your green screen, just doesn’t give a s--- about any of it." But he did it in season 2 for the fans.
Hughie (Jack Quaid) and Mother's Milk (Laz Alonso) track Billy (Karl Urban) to his aunt's house after professing his need to fall off the radar and disappear for a while. That's where Terror has been staying all this time and things get dramatic quickly when they realize Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) followed them. "That dog stole the show," Kripke says, but "shooting it was every bit the clusterf--- I thought it would be."
Meanwhile, members of the Seven are shooting Dawn of the 7, a big blockbuster movie that definitely looks like it's spoofing Zack Snyder's era of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. But Kripke says there were a lot more inspirations than you might think.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I remember you saying that, in season 1, you didn't want to shoot with a live animal for the Terror scenes. Now that you have, did your expectations match the reality?
ERIC KRIPKE: We were thrilled to give Terror to the fans. I'm really happy with how it turned out. That dog stole the show. Shooting it was every bit the clusterf--k I thought it would be. We got that dog based on its ability to hump on command and if you notice in the episode not once does it do it because it wouldn't, of course, because it's a dog and dogs don't take direction. I also remember the scene where Butcher walks down the street with Terror. The dog would just not walk with Karl. We got it for a couple of the wide shots, thankfully. But if you look, a lot of the time the dog is just walking next to two black-clad legs and that's his trainer. Poor Karl, trying to emote. Look, Terror is a star but a really inconsiderate diva. I just saw the endless amount of frustrated dailies, hours and hours of footage of the dog just sitting there and people trying to cajole it to do something that he doesn't want to do.
It was also cool to see the Dawn of the 7 come together. Were there any specific inspirations?
I will leave that in the audience's mind, but it's not all who you're thinking of. There's a lot of Michael Bay in there. There's a lot of old-school [Jerry] Bruckheimer in there. Any and every overblown Hollywood action blockbuster were references that we were talking about, not just the superhero stuff. I don't actually think it's written to sound like a superhero movie. I think it's written like a really bad 1991 Michael Bay action movie. That's how it feels to us. The one thing I'll say is writing bad dialogue is so much more fun than writing good dialogue. Those were my favorite scenes to write and work on with Ellie [Monahan], who wrote the episode.
It must be fun in the sense that the show is already wild and absurd, and now you have a movie-within-the-show that takes it to another level, even just the set design. What were your goals there?
We came up with that idea of an entirely destroyed apocalyptic New York. It's all just over the top and that style of filmmaking, just bombastic and more is more. We were trying to play with what you would see in a $200 million blockbuster and the weirdo requirements to show that level of stupid spectacle that has no bearing on the story. And then all that stupid s--- about the flash drive and the dumb McGuffin of it all. Anyone who's seen some of the Supernatural episodes, I have a special place in my heart for meta humor and so to be able to really indulge in that in a whole episode was chef's kiss for me.
I remember at one point you were trying to get [The Boys executive producer] Seth Rogen to play that Agent Coulson kind of role. I'm assuming it was just scheduling issues that prevented that?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We just couldn't figure out the scheduling. Greg [Grunberg] was a fan of the show so I reached out to him and thankfully he did it. He was really, really funny. What I loved most about Greg's performance was after they called cut and you watch him in the background, he's kind of a dick. He does this dick face: "I thought that take was great!" His off-camera persona of "Greg" is a divo, which I thought was hilarious.
I feel like his goal right now must be to insert himself into every franchise. Star Wars, Star Trek, The Boys...
In a way that's why we loved it. He's known for his cameos in these huge franchises. It made sense that he made a cameo in ours.
There's one specific line where Homelander says, "The new Joss rewrite really sings" [as a reference to Joss Whedon rewriting Justice League]. Was that Ellie's work?
I think that came out of the room and I don't remember who came up with that line. At the time, though, it might've been before even that movie came out. It wasn't the Joss Whedon backlash that there seems to be today about that movie. At the time, we were like, "It's a good rewrite from the guy who wrote Avengers." That's what that script needs. It was all done with respect and love.
In the comics, the Boys were, one could say, a metaphor for crumbling the system of predominantly white superheroes that populated comics. I was curious if you think that metaphor still lives in the context of the show and our superhero-obsessed world.
Yeah. I think [comics writer] Garth [Ennis] was going after the comic book industry. I think what's changed since then is superheroes have become the pop culture industry, but it's the same problems. That gag we did in the last episode of #SuperheroesSoWhite, those are about the real stats of how many white heroes there are versus Black heroes versus Latino or Asian heroes. That's a low, low number. And the sexism and the women who have to wear the skimpy outfits, all that stuff was real in the comic books and it's real now.
Maeve's story line this season, too. That image of her waving the rainbow flag.
It's all that performative woke-ness, this notion that Vought is going to capitalize on her coming out and ultimately use it as a way to sell products. You'll see the run of "Brave Maeve" products that are all over the show after this, like Brave Maeve Vegetarian Lasagna. It's just a way to make a buck without at all respecting what she wants to reveal and say about her story and ignoring the truth. One of my favorite lines in that whole sequence is Elena going, "Well, you know she's bisexual, right?" and Ash is like, "Well, 'lesbian' is more cut and dry" and just ignoring the intricacies and complexities of a human being because it doesn't fit into a marketing slogan. It's horrific but it's also horrifically true.