Like just about everyone else who appears onscreen in Amazon's twisted superhero saga The Boys, star Karl Urban always appears to have a gleeful glint in his eye when he's in character. As the ringleader of the titular anti-superhero squad, Billy Butcher, Urban plays his quasi-mercenary with a heightened ego, oodles of testosterone and abundant angst. And he's having a great time playing what he considers to be a fun character.
Speaking to Billy Butcher's anger issues, and the questionable ways in which he reacts to problems, Karl Urban had a positive spin on getting to spend time with the hyper-violent badass. In his words:
Butcher is a fun character to play, because of the degree of internal conflict that wages within him. There is a war inside of Butcher, and to get to the dawn, you must first travel through the night. Butcher has both the tendency to be the villain and the hero, which makes him a hell of a lot of fun to play. Looking at Season 2, some of the shit that Butcher gets up to is truly diabolical. And I pray that I personally don't get the karma payback for what he does. I didn't think of it, I didn't write it, but I'm definitely guilty of doing it.
Throughout his career, Karl Urban has played a lot of roles on both sides of the virtue scale, from the skilled warrior Éomer in the Lord of the Rings films to Thor: Ragnarok's villainous Skurge. (Urban also really loved playing the latter.) Butcher doesn't quite hit any extremes either heroically or nefariously, largely because his motivations are more purely personal as opposed to being beneficial for the greater good, even when his actions actually would benefit the world at large.
Karl Urban also spoke to that balance between concepts such as right and wrong as being one of the more enjoyable elements of The Boys on the creative side. Here's how he put it to GQ.
The great thing about the writing of The Boys is that there is a lot of gray area when it comes to the characters. It's not black and white. It's not just as simple as heroes and villains. What we come to understand more of in Season 2 is the actual true power behind the superheroes, in terms of the corporation. That definitely resonates today, as it has historically. Audiences are a lot more switched onto the industrial-military complex that it's actually working at a level far higher than the highest office in the land. The Boys is certainly representative of that.
The Boys' most powerful hero, Homelander, is definitely exemplary of the creative team's approach to good and evil. On the outset, he is a Superman-esque being capable of live-saving acts that are beyond impossible for others. But in the same vein, he's a corporately coddled man-baby whose highly problematic origin story has dulled any natural empathy he might have had, which makes him as much of a monster as a savior. And as The Seven's influence grows within the U.S. military in the "bonkers" second season, audiences will no doubt see more of Homelander's heinousness come to light.
All that hopefully also means that Karl Urban's Billy Butcher will become even more of a raucous and havoc-causing force within the world of The Boys. Especially now that we know his thought-missing wife is alive, healthy and raising Homelander's child. I can't imagine he'll walk away from that situation with a light heart and a chipper smile.