With all the gross-out moments, raucous sex scenes, and toxic masculinity, it’s hard to imagine that something like TV series The Boys would have any heart: but it does, and at the centre of it are two members of the mercenary anti-supe crew: Frenchie (Tomer Kapon) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara).
On the surface, you wouldn’t think that the hard-hearted hitman and radicalised super-terrorist would produce some of the show’s most tender moments, but one thing The Boys shows more than anything is that you certainly can’t judge a book by its cover. While those who on the surface look like ‘heroes’ can actually be villains, those who look like ‘villains’ can actually be heroes, too — and that’s certainly true of Frenchie and Kimiko, who, more than anything, just want a family.
As part of a roundtable with The Digital Fix and other members of the UK press, Tomer and Karen answered a number of burning questions people had about what The Boys season 3 has in store for their characters. What follows is the transcription of this roundtable, which includes questions asked by representatives of various other outlets.
I really feel like Frenchie and Kimiko are becoming the heart and soul of the show. How do these characters evolve and develop in season three?
Tomer Kapon: We know how the last season ended, with Frenchie begging Kimiko to let him in, and, and maybe learn sign language a little bit. And those two characters, ever since we started, were so hunted and so cornered all the time, and feeling so heavy having to go through so much trouble.
So the way that season 3 starts is so refreshing because life is good! Kimiko is finding out her hobbies, likes, and dislikes, Frenchie quits smoking and they’re all just eating doughnuts and whatnot.
With the way it started, it feels like we started with a fresh page, like a fresh new start for both of them. So it was very interesting not to be feeling like you’re being chased down like something is desperate. And yeah, we had a lot more room to build the relationship.
Obviously, when you begin the season, it starts a year after. So me and Karen were basically, you know, turning our heads together about what those two have been through, until the point where the first episode starts, which was a fun experience to explore.
Karen Fukuhara: I think this season, we had a lot of opportunities to bond, not only as our characters but off-screen as well. I mean, to be honest, the dance rehearsals really bonded us together.
I think you can see that on-screen as well. There’s something about you know, working on something together. like doing a team sport. That kind of brings people together.
TK: We feel so comfortable with each other to this point. I mean, Karen comes over, we’re cooking, we’re talking, we’re playing Backgammon, and so I made Karen, she’s my little monster. I’m a proud, proud father of a very well-trained Backgammon player.
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KF: I never knew how to play and he taught me — I’m his little grasshopper.
TK: Not anymore! How do you say it in English? The phrase, ‘the trainee becomes the master.’ There’s some days where I’m like, playing and getting my ass kicked. And I’m like, ‘All right. You did good, grasshopper.’ All of these things together made the working relationship so much better, made us better actors.
That definitely comes across.
TK: I mean, can you imagine if we were hating each other? [laughs]
What was it like filming the hospital dance number? It seems very different to what usually goes on at The Boys — no blood and guts in sight!
KF: It was surreal. I had a moment on set, during one of the musical shooting days and just realised all the colourful details of everything. Even the costumes were a lot more colourful than what we’re used to.
Kimiko is always usually in black and it was no blood on set. There was no blood on set even though it’s a hospital and that’s so ironic!
There’s a fun detail that the costume designer Michael Brown, Mikey, put in with you know, we wanted her hospital gown to have a little bit of like flair and flow and so we added a tiny bit of like more fabric so that it kind of expands a little bit.
We also have some not so happy scenes in the hospital gown. And so for those, we used more of a dingy blue and a lighter blue.
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But for the dance number, we changed into something that was a tiny bit brighter. And it’s all in the details of it. And you know, if you just watch it, you probably won’t even recognise it. But it’s those small details that made it special. In terms of the dance, I got to work with an awesome dance partner. And he did some lifts.
TK: Yeah, it was amazing. We had so much room for bringing our own to the stage in terms of characters. And just in terms of things that me and Karen saw, and we’re like, ‘We should definitely try to put this into dance,’ small moments that are kind of character-driven. Like, there’s a small moment in the dance where we stop for a second. And we have this little interaction.
Personally, I’ve always wanted to be a ballerina! I always explored steps like Suzie Q and did some lifts. You know, the only thing I still have is some trauma by hearing the song with the guitar over and over and now it’s stuck in my head!
So, yeah. A lot of fun. And it got me into shape. I don’t like to train. I don’t like training. But that was so much fun, and we did it day in day out.
It was crazy, you know, because in the time we did that Karen also had to train for her crazy action scenes. It was surreal. Very physical, intense season for us as actors. A lot of protein shakes, a lot of energy stuff, yeah it was something!
Some of the things that you guys have to do is pretty bizarre, and season 3 certainly pushes the boundaries. Was there any point where you were like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t do this!’
KF: I’m always game for everything. I mean, where else will you get to do any of this stuff, you know? That’s the joy of being an actor, you get to learn these skills, and you get to experience what it’s like to be inside of a whale [laughs] and things like that. So I’m always really excited to read the script.
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TK: For me, it’s like, as soon as I get my hair bust, it’s full-on Frenchie, and I’m like, ‘Give me the crop top!’ For me, I’m celebrating, this is a celebration. This is everything, you know, I can be everything, and do whatever I want and just explore. I’m so happy with this character. It’s like a present for me. Just being free including in those very bizarre moments.
Overall, who’s winning the Backgammon tournament?
TK: Us, normally. Anything Karl Urban [Billy Butcher] tells you, no, no, don’t buy it! [laughs]
KF: It’s funny because I’m told I’m Tomer’s little minion. And Jack [Quaid, who plays Hughie Campbell] is for Karl. And so usually to Tomer and Karl are battling it out, and then Jack and I are battling it out, and then they kind of glance over and they’re like, ‘How you guys doing? Make us proud!’
TK: I gotta say, it was a little weird this season just in terms of how we are really kind of splitting the family, The Boys. And it was interesting, you know, to go through some shooting days, and then Butcher comes in. And he obviously did whatever he has, and he comes with this different energy, and you are in your world. And then we meet again.
I think it’s the first time that we get to explore how The Boys are basically splitting and each has his own path this season. And then when we meet again, something changes. So that’s a big thing in this season, I think in terms of, is it a big happy family, The Boys? There’s a lot of questions beneath the surface, because it has always been, like, The Boys versus The Seven. But now, this season, everything kind of crosses over.
Can we expect a sort of civil war starting in the group?
KF: What’s exciting is, you know, seeing all of these different characters that are usually in a team together kind of disband, and then team up with others. And seeing that kind of new dynamic within each of the characters and the team-ups. I think that’s a great thing that the fans will love to watch.
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You touched a bit on the action, there are some very unconventional action scenes…
TK: From my first day back on set, it was kind of like, ‘Welcome. We’re gonna tie you down and we’re gonna drag you inside a wall,’ [laughs] But you know, I’m ready. It’s The Boys! I mean, I’m nobody, in terms of action scenes. It’s a question for this beautiful woman over here [gestures to Karen].
[To Karen] I mean, all I can say is is I’m a fan of what you did this season. I was. I am saying it, and I’ll keep on saying it, because I seriously never saw someone work as hard as Karen did this season. All her action, all her choreography, navigating with learning sign language, fighting, dancing. It was impressive.
We know that Little Nina from the comics arrives somepoint in season 3. What does her introduction mean to Frenchie?
TK: I just know that Kimiko hates that bitch [laughs] Let’s start with that. First of all, obviously, you know, The Boys is based on a comic book. So we have source material. And the show is so good.
Like, with the dance and the justice they did with the comic book and even making it bigger, more different. The characters are still drawn from there. So it’s really interesting to go back to the source and explore, so you know the characters then you hear someone called Little Nina coming in and it’s like, ‘Who’s that?’ You know, I’m a fan of that.
It was really interesting to explore, because we did get a glimpse, in season two, of Frenchie’s past and how he got into The Boys. But now, we go even more reverse; more backwards in terms of whar kind of made Frenchie the broken man that he is.
And that’s a lot more to deal with than what we did in the second season in terms of trauma, and stuff like that. And I’m so excited for these scenes. I think it gives you a different angle of what makes Frenchie ticks and why he is the way he is.
The first three episodes of The Boys drop on Amazon Prime Video on June 3.