EXCLUSIVE: Adam McKay Talks Casting, Tone, And Franchising The Boys

Back in late June a story broke that writer/director Adam McKay, best known for his collaborations with Will Ferrell, was in talks to direct an adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's The Boys, a comic about a group of super-powered foreigners who are hired by the CIA to keep an eye on the members of the American population with gifts like theirs. Today I had the opportunity to sit down with McKay at the press junket for The Other Guys, and while the project is not yet finalized and he hasn't officially been named as the director, he was more than happy to talk about it at length with me.

Starting with the crux of the film - his involvement - I asked McKay, a lifelong comic book fan, how he came to be attached. Before he was offered the script he had read the first few issues of the comic series, and while he thought it was alright, it wasn't something that he immediately jumped on board with, particularly because he wouldn't be writing the script. Then he decided to revisit the comics:

I read the whole series and I was blown away. It was like “Oh, my God.” I had no idea that this kind of stuff was happening in here. And then I read the script and the script was a super faithful adaptation, because at that point that was my only worry. If the script’s a mess I don’t want to have to rewrite the script. I read it and it was really faithful, and it still needs a little work, and that was it. That was kind of up to the point now that we kind of talking to Sony, “can we do this.” We’re sort of going back and forth right now.

Fans familiar with the series may note that McKay, who's previous work includes Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers, isn't the most obvious choice to helm the film. Though her certainly has experience with raunchy material, the high level violence and sexuality seen in the books is very different from McKay's previous films. Fear not, however. He has no intention of changing the content or the tone.

Has to be R-rated, and Sony’s so cool that they agreed. They knew it too. It affects the budget a little bit, but I think we’ve got ways that we can still make it a big, epic film without spending $250 million.

Also interesting to note is that McKay doesn't necessarily see the film as a single entity, but possibly the start of a franchise. The books have already established a wide universe that McKay would take pleasure in expanding in multiple films and that it could potentially have the same impact that Watchmen had when it was released back in the mid-80s and have the proper post-9/11 tone that Christopher Nolan achieved in The Dark Knight.

I think that because of the way the series ended, it’s sort of an implied X-Men sort of step to it. I think you could do a bunch of them, I think it’s a whole world. Although, you never want to get too ahead of yourself, it all depends how it does. But it feels like it to me, man. What I love about it is that it’s a movie that needs to be made. That’s always my favorite. The way the Watchmen made a giant splash when it first came out as a comic book back in ’86, I sort of feel like this could be right now. They did the Watchmen, and it was great, but Nolan’s kind of done the one that’s perfectly of the time and I think Garth Ennis nailed it, man. The perfect mishmash of corruption and corporate monopolies and misleading press, and at the same time xenophobia – the heroes are all foreigners that America always says they hate. It’s a perfect combination of those elements. I’m crazy excited, I really hope that happens.

As I noted in my original article about McKay's involvement, one of the characters in the book, Wee Hughie Campbell, had his likeness based on Shaun of the Dead star Simon Pegg. While this was done without Pegg's permission, the actor ended up loving the book so much that wrote the forward for the first collected edition. While McKay didn't know about this until after reading the books, the story was enough of an impact: he wanted Pegg from the second he closed the back cover:

I think it kind of almost has to be him. I read the comic without reading that foreword, and when I was done reading, I said, you know, that guy, Simon Pegg has to play him. And they said, “you know that’s based on him?” And I was like, “Oh, okay. That explains it.” First off, I love Simon Pegg, so it’s hardly twisting my arm behind my back to do it. I would want him to do it. I’ve never met him, so I would want to meet with him and stuff, but he’s clearly the guy. There’s so many fun roles in there. That’s going to be a blast. I hope it happens.

With the possibility of Pegg on the table, I then asked if they had been rolling around any ideas for the rest of the cast. Including Pegg, McKay has already mulled over four different characters, with two possibilities for the role of The Female:

We’ve kicked around some ideas. Someone had a great idea, one of the writers had a great idea, of Daniel Craig as The Butcher. That’s a really cool idea. But there are some fun ones. The Homelander is a tricky one. I thought, for a second, Aaron Eckhart for The Homelander, but we’re still kicking around ideas. You know who’d be great as Female is the lady from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo [Noomi Rapace]. She’d be amazing, I’m blanking on her name. But it’s all up in the air. Also Bjork could be incredible as Female.

When it comes to comic book adaptations, it can't be understated how much of a role passion plays. Sam Raimi, Bryan Singer and Christopher Nolan all had love for the characters that they were putting on film and it always shined through. It goes without saying that an adaptation of The Boys would be a major change from the films he typically makes. I can tell you with no uncertainty that if Adam McKay is given the reigns to this film he will not disappoint.

Check out some images below of McKay's potential casting choices. I think you'll agree that they are spot on.

Wee Hughie Campbell - Simon Pegg

The Butcher - Daniel Craig

The Homelander - Aaron Eckhart

The Female (Of The Species) - Noomi Rapace

The Female (Of The Species) - Bjork

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.