On Amazon Studios’ hit corrupt-superhero series The Boys, Hughie (played by Jack Quaid) is a sensitive young man who’s increasingly eager to become a badass.
By contrast, his compatriot Frenchie — portrayed by Israeli actor Tomer Capone — has a long history as a hardened criminal (and he infamously killed the superhero Translucent with an “ass bomb” in season one of the show). But through each season of the outrageous series, Frenchie is increasingly guided by his heart, especially when it comes to his burgeoning relationship with Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara).
Capone — who previously acted in the Israeli series Fauda and When Heroes Fly — says he’s been touched by the response from the show’s fans to his portrayal of Frenchie and how his character has been able to connect to Kimiko, who is mute, through sign language.
“The relationship is really, really stepping up,” Capone, 36, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I know a lot of people love that relationship — people who are saying, ‘We were outsiders [too].’ And somehow we touch them, which is very heartwarming.” Adds the actor of his character, “I think Frenchie, more than anything, is motivated by heart and emotion. The Boys are family. Butcher is the father and Mother’s Milk is the mother. Hughie is like the older brother, Kimiko is the youngest sister and Frenchie is the troubled teenager — that’s how I see it.”
With the sixth episode of the third season premiering today, June 24 — a season that the actor calls “the craziest” and “most bloody” one to date — Capone spoke about how he originally won his part in the show and why The Boys has ruined superhero movies for him.
How did you get cast in the show?
Through [The Boys‘ showrunner] Eric Kripke’s mother. That’s the most honest answer. I found out when they visited Israel and we went for a dinner in Jerusalem and his mother said, “I pointed out to Eric about you when I saw you on Netflix.” She saw me on When Heroes Fly or on Fauda. That’s something I didn’t know. I know they looked for Frenchie for a long time.
What was the audition process like?
I had come back to Israel from a trip to China for my friend’s wedding and I remember I got a call saying, “They want another tape, like something more profound in terms of another scene.” So I’m at a [friend’s] place in Tel Aviv and it’s a scene with a gun and [my friend] goes ballistic on the Butcher character and I’m doing my things for the camera, cursing in French, whatever. And a couple of IDF [Israel Defense Forces] police officers went in her backyard, guns drawn and just screaming, “Put the gun down. Put the gun down.” And both of us froze in our place. I almost pissed my pants. It was extreme. What happened was some neighbors had seen us from the window and saw a crazy guy with a gun and called the police. That’s my Hollywood audition experience.
How much do you still look to and read the original comic books when working on your characterization of Frenchie?
You know, my trailer when we’re shooting is packed with lines [on the walls] — like bubbles — that I’ll write down from the comic, specific things that Frenchie says and stuff like that. It’s always there. The respect is there. But in terms of trying to capture something that is one-on-one with the comic book, I tried it one time in the first seasons. I had a fight with Mother’s Milk and these two are going at it. And I say, “You know what, I wanna try something from the comic book.” Anyway, [the description was]: Frenchie jumps with his claws up, like a really big jump. And I went for it and I fell on my butt and realize, maybe a punch is better.
Has working on The Boys affected your experience of watching superhero movies?
I think it ruined the whole superhero experience for me. I used to think that men in Spandex who have special powers are cool. But this show just wiped that away. When I see superheroes onscreen, I don’t buy it anymore. In the last 10 years, everybody was into the whole superhero thing, trying to run away from reality. And then I read The Boys and I’m like, “They took the genre and fucking flipped it.” They said, “Let’s see how superheroes act in front of the mirror when they’re finishing their day. What are they really about when they’re taking the Spandex off?”
Have you had time to do any other projects beyond The Boys?
I actually did. I have a movie called Slingshot that I wrapped two months ago. Mikael Håfström is directing it. It’s a realistic futuristic space thriller with Laurence Fishburne and Casey Affleck. The three of us are astronauts on a mission to one of [Saturn’s] moons.
Do fans know that you are Israeli?
I’m just so happy I got away with people thinking I’m actually French. Like I’m traveling all over the world and people are like, “Frenchie! Oh my God.” They start talking French to me. Everyone is 100 percent positive that I’m French.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.