Anatomy of an Emmy-Worthy Scene: The Boys' Antony Starr and Writer Rebecca Sonnenshine Break Down Homelander's Emotional Confrontation

In the Season 2 finale of Amazon Prime’s The Boys, Antony Starr‘s Homelander goes through the full spectrum of feelings when he finds his girlfriend Stormfront’s mutilated body, then unleashes an almost unhinged laugh after he is rejected by his own son Ryan. Below, TVLine Dream Emmy nominee Starr and the episode’s writer, Rebecca Sonnenshine, revisit the villainous supe’s surprisingly vulnerable moment and his memorable cackle.

ANTONY STARR | I’m always hungry for more scenes with Karl [Urban as Butcher] and also any scenes that really push my character, Homelander, out of his comfort zone and really extend me and extend the character… So initially, when I got [the script], I was really excited. And then it’s just a process of chipping in and digging away, and really trying to hone in on the guts of it and getting as deep as we can and seeing how far we can go with it.

REBECCA SONNENSHINE | It’s amazing what Antony can do with his face. I think a lot of dialogue was kind of stripped out of that scene to let it play. You can see on his face that he’s torn in a million directions. The way he carries himself in that scene and the way he uses his voice and his face, it’s like he wants to kill that kid. But he also wants that kid to love him. Those things are all playing in his face.

STARR | We didn’t have a hell of a lot of time to shoot that scene. I believe it was about two-thirds of a day, which is not a lot of time when you’ve got that many players involved and that much material. So it wasn’t necessarily set up to come out as good as I think it did. … Even the bits that were scripted felt very improvisational, which is a really good place to be at.

SONNENSHINE | I don’t think [the laugh] was scripted… The reason that it’s so amazing to write for Antony is that you think of a million ways that a scene could be played, and then he picks a million and one and you’re like, “Oh, I never thought of that, but it’s so inventive.” He’s so inventive; he gets right at the truth of a moment.

STARR | You’ve got to be careful with those things, because they can look really forced. But it felt emotionally full… You gotta laugh or you gotta cry, but then [the laugh] turned into a bit of cry.

SONNENSHINE | What Anthony often would say is there’s a certain delight in the crazy. [Homelander] has nothing to lose, ever. He can do anything. And so sometimes, [Antony will] choose to play something with a laugh. It breaks your heart, because it’s this release, in a way, that is unexpected. That’s what’s so incredible about Antony’s performance. You can’t script something like that. If you did, it would sound bad.