From 2006 to 2012 one of my favourite comic series ran 72 issues. After being put onto it by fellow snooty usher Welshy I was immediately enthralled in this immensely dark, often amusing, always violent world. Created by the mind behind the superb Preacher, Garth Ennis, The Boys takes place in a world where superheroes exist. These superheroes are superstars, celebrities and money making machines with immense abilities, but unlike Peter Parker they don’t practice great responsibility with their great power. Corruption, crime, abuse, murder, rape, you name it they dabble in it. The U.S. government though has a secret project to keep these superheroes in order, a group of highly trained, lethal individuals with a propensity for violence and a grudge against the superheroes of the world. A film/TV series has been in the works for years on this tricky project, but the intricate fusion of violence and humour is not as easy task to put to screen. However I’m not here to bring it to the screen, I’m here to fan cast this great comic series. So shall we begin?
Billy Butcher – Tom Hardy
Billy Butcher is a native Englishmen, former Royal Marine, and leader of the latest iteration of The Boys. With a tough upbringing that involved physical abuse, and an alcohol driven self destructive adolescence, Butcher doesn’t seem like your typical leader but he’s damn good at it. Fuelling his hate of superheroes is a tormented past of loss and suffering which he rarely shares, but often uses in his deadly reprimands of ill fated heroes who cross his path.
For someone to effectively play Butcher you need somebody who can nail being a man who’ll commit horrible acts of vengeance but you’ll still root for as he does them. You also need imposing demeanour, and an intense authoritative presence… knowing how to beat people up helps as well. So to bring this character to life, who other than the man who broke Batman’s back, Tom Hardy.
Mr. Hardy is riding the crest of a wave at the moment, with an Oscar nominated turn in The Revenant and taking the lead role in the brilliantly crazy Mad Max: Fury Road he certainly has momentum on his side. Throughout his career Hardy has played some larger than life personalities, from Charles Bronson in Bronson to the Kray twins in Legend, the former containing a desert dry humour that Butcher shares. Now when the leader of the Boys isn’t delighting himself in dismembering superheroes he is quietly calculating his next move so that he can dismember some more, and if you’ve seen Hardy play Bob in The Drop and Forrest Bondurant in Lawless then you’ll know this is well within his abilities.
For your consideration: Tom Hardy wasn’t always my first choice, in fact I’ve literally just changed this entire section because I changed my mind whilst writing this. Before Hardy I had Jason Statham (whose career of ass kicking with a smile is simply perfect for The Boys), and I also had Gerard Butler in mind because not only do I think he could play the role well, but I wanted to team him up with a former on screen partner from Rock’n’Rolla, which leads me on to my next character.
Mother’s Milk – Idris Elba
Mother’s Milk (also known as M.M.) is one of the pillars that keeps the Boys propped up throughout their run together, and acts frequently as Butchers right hand man. He’s level headed and well mannered, and usually calls Butcher out for his methods and his perceived treatment of Hughie. However as much as he might disagree with Butcher, he is deeply loyal to the Boys. M.M. had joined the United States Army and volunteered as a Ranger, but after killing his opponent during a boxing match he was released by the military and Butcher recruited him to the team. Fuelling his commitment to the Boys cause is a childhood full of loss brought about by superhero programs, and though he doesn’t have the insatiable desire to destroy everything like Butcher does, he doesn’t shy away from a brawl.
M.M. is possibly the most complex character in the team as you need somebody who can knock somebodies head off who’ll also be your best friend. M.M. is also physically and mentally stronger than Butcher, so casting somebody who can physically pull that off on screen is essential. Regardless of which actor you choose to play Butcher, Idris Elba is the perfect choice for M.M. due to his towering frame and damn fine acting. In another life had we not lost Michael Clarke Duncan when we did I would have loved to have seen him in the role.
For your consideration: Tyler Perry has the frame to play Mother’s Milk but I couldn’t see him gelling with the rest of the cast I’ve picked. I’ve also toyed with the idea of Djimon Hounsou and Chad Coleman but Elba seems the best fit to partner and match up with Tom Hardy as Butcher.
Hughie Campbell – Richard Madden
Also referred to as ‘Wee Hughie’, an adopted child from Scotland, Hughie Campbell is the primary protagonist who we follow through the series. After the tragic death of his girlfriend, who literally dies in his arms, due to an superhero fight that spilled into the streets his heart broken. After learning of his experiences Butcher recruits him into a vacant spot on the Boys roster. Hughie is the complete opposite of Butcher, innocent, afraid, and hesitant, qualities that don’t seem to fit in with what the Boys are about, but he does have astute detective like abilities which make him useful to the team. Due to a love/hate relationship with Butcher whose violent methods he constantly questions and witnessing some heinous acts committed by all parties Hughie is constantly questioning his role in the Boys. But whether it be his own mind, or the manipulations of Butcher, he constantly finds himself dragged back in to the fray.
Originally I thought picking Hughie was the easiest choice, why? Because artist Darick Robertson illustrated Hughie Campbell based on Simon Pegg after seeing him in Spaced and thought he would be perfect for the physical look of the character. Now if this was a film being made a few years ago then Simon Pegg would have been perfect for the role, and he is still a great choice. However, Hughie is a character whose naive outlooks and lack of experience in life are quintessential to the very fabric of the role, so selecting a younger actor would be more beneficial to properly represent the character than likeness. Plus considering Pegg is older than Hardy, the Butcher/Hughie dynamic also just would not work. With that in mind I think Richard Madden could do a sterling job in the role. Most recently he was seen paired up with Idris Elba in Bastille Day, and most famously played Robb Stark in Game of Thrones. As a relatively new face to the big screen, and born and raised in Scotland, this fast rising talent seems a worthy shout to tackle the most human character in the Boys.
For your consideration: A suitable alternative to Richard Madden could be his Game of Thrones colleague Alfie Allen. He may have just taken a hiding from Keanu Reeves in John Wick, but everything we’ve seen from him in the HBO juggernaut suggests that playing Hughie is very much within his wheelhouse.
The Frenchman – Vincent Cassel
This was the second easiest choice I made for this fan cast, simply because Vincent Cassel is one of the best actors out there, and he’s French so it’s a no-brainer. The Frenchman, alongside The Female (who we’ll get to) are pretty much the muscle of The Boys. With a penchant for violent outbursts and zany behaviour he stands out as a rather unique (crazy) character in the group, his amusing eccentricity only matched by the extreme levels of violence he is willing to use. Butcher hires him as he needs “a mad f**king c*nt” in the team, and he doesn’t disappoint. That being said he does have a softer side, becoming fond of Hughie after he joins the team, and developing a protective bond with The Female, he can be quite the compassionate character when he isn’t ripping superheroes apart.
Vincent Cassel has demonstrated acting abilities throughout his career that enable him to tackle any role he wants, and playing the Frenchmen would not only be a delight to watch but he could do it in his sleep. I’m so set on Vincent Cassel as the character I don’t feel like I have to further justify it any further.
For your consideration: Gaspard Ulliel was easily the best thing in the otherwise mundane Hannibal Rising, playing a young Hannibal Lector very well. If we needed a younger version of The Frenchman for whatever reason (Hollywood is rather ageist didn’t you know?) then Gaspard Ulliel fits the bill, with his handsome looks providing an interesting clash with the characters actions. If Vincent Cassel wasn’t so damn f*cking good I’d have probably picked him anyway.
The Female – Rila Fukashima
The Female is a compact ball of sheer brutality. Barely uttering a word throughout the comics run she has an aura of mystery that surrounds her, but when she springs into action there is nothing mysterious about what she is capable of. Regularly ripping enemies faces off, alongside the Frenchman she is the other part of the teams muscle. Though she doesn’t speak she has a bond with the Frenchman who helps contain her violence, but she also dabbles in work as a hitman for the Mafia alongside her work for The Boys. Though the team are wary of her, she is an essential part of the team in getting the work done.
You’d think casting a character who suffers from selective mutism would be easy, it is not. Getting the characters size is essential for the dynamic of the team, not just in how they look but how they work. What makes The Boys work is that they are so different, physically and mentally. So we need an actress who can portray this role of bottled rage, and because the character is fairly ambiguous in nature I’ve opted for a relative newcomer to film and TV. Rila Fukashima will be best known as playing the future seeing Yukio in The Wolverine and jumping into the role of Katana in the third season of Arrow. The limited nature of her filmography would play in the characters favour as an unknown quantity, and she was fairly kick ass in The Wolverine so I’d like to see more of her.
For your consideration: The only other actress I could remotely settle on playing The Female is the wonderfully talented Rinko Kukuchi. Though Pacific Rim is arguably her biggest film to date, she was superb in both Babel and The Brothers Bloom. Interestingly in the former she was mute, and in the latter only spoke three words. This ability to act so well without saying a thing would seemingly make her the best candidate to tackle the character but we shouldn’t typecast too much.
Well that is it for my first fan cast for The Boys…that’s right, first. In my next fan cast I’ll be tackling casting some of the important auxiliary characters of the comic series as well as the nefarious superhero Homelander, leader of the The Seven, and arch enemy of Butcher. So stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon.
How did I do? Let me know, you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t agree. Well maybe a little…
“You’re still here, it’s over, go home, go”