Laz Alonso and the Drama of Superheroes

One of the Stars of “The Boys” Touches on What It’s Like to Work on a Gritty Fantasy Show That at Times Mirrors the Social Unrest of Real Life
Laz Alonso plays anti-hero Mother's Milk in Amazon's "The Boys"

Arturo Hilario
El Observador

If you have never seen Amazon Prime Video original “The Boys”, it is quite an experience. Drawing it’s story from the comic of the same name, this gory, hilarious and drama infused adventure follows a group of unwilling mercenaries called “The Boys”, who must take on the literal “powers that be” of a group of mostly deranged celebrity superheroes (referred to as “Supes”) which takes the idea of DC Comic’s Super Friends or Marvel’s Avengers and flips it on its head.

The Boys are made up of Hughie (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara). They are led by Butcher (Karl Urban).

Season 1 of the show was heavily praised for its outlandishness and special effects as much as for its grounded emotional moments and human drama. Season 2 is arriving on Amazon Prime Video this Friday, September 4.

Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Cuban-American actor Laz Alonso who appears in the show as the conscious of The Boys, Mother’s Milk. We got to go over what it’s like working on a superhero show of this type, what his character’s motivations are this season and how his character dealt with social justice situations that mirror the real world unrest that has been accelerated in these past months.

To start off, I was wondering if you could set up the dynamic between the characters at the beginning of this season of “The Boys”, since season one ended in a dramatic and wild fashion.

So basically, in the beginning of season two, you know, we’re kind of we’re not happy about how Butcher (the leader of The Boys) left us high and dry. You know, we all came together because he put us together. And there’s a certain level of trust that we all have for each other. You know, we are a family.

And I think thematically, that’s one of the main things that you learn about season two is, is how important the issue of family is to The Boys and to our mission being successful. There’s a trust there that you rely on when really, nothing else is a constant on the show.

There’s so much crazy stuff that happens from episode to episode, the only thing that stays constant is how we look out for each other. And [Butcher] broke that. So, in episode one, season two, you pick up on Butcher coming back to The Boys and having to regain that trust that he lost. Also, we’re kind of discombobulated. We’re no longer on the trail after the suits, we’re kind of hiding out and trying to figure out what we’re going to do next.

How do you feel about the fact that Butcher is gone, and you guys have that animosity towards him, but now you’re kind of having a similar type of relationship with Huey and there’s this push and pull there?

Huey now, he’s all in. Huey has accepted that he’s one of The Boys, whereas before it used to freak him out. Now he’s actually enjoying being a freedom fighter, so to speak.

In season one of the first things that Mother’s Milk did was to warn Huey about how this job can really get the most of you. You have to be careful because, you know, when you’re fighting against these super human beings, there’s a certain high that you get from it that can end up turning you just as evil as them.

Another thing that Mother’s Milk has his hands full with is that while Butcher basically brought Mother’s Milk on to the team to be his conscience to keep him from going over the edge, Mother’s Milk also has to control Huey and make sure that he doesn’t turn into another Butcher because now he’d have to be the conscience of both guys.

If you think about it, they have a lot in common. I mean, both these guys have lost their significant other in one way or another to one of the suits. The love of their life has been stripped from them. And so, they’re both on the revenge finding mission. And what Mother’s Milk is trying to do is not let Huey end up going down the same dark path that Butcher did.

At the same time, you are worried about your character’s own family?

Oh, yeah, absolutely. Because, you know, it’s interesting, you know, Mother’s Milk really didn’t have to come back to The Boys. I mean, he had a good family, he had his wife, he had his kid. He was doing something that made him happy. Why would he risk all that to come back to this, to living in [and] hiding in and out of crazy hideouts out, stealing cars, using beat up cars to get around in?

In episode four, you start to hear a little bit about why mother’s milk is part of The Boys. He starts to reveal what happened in his past that made him even consider risking everything, including his family, to do what he’s doing.

Jumping off that, where do you find the inspiration for Mother’s Milk? Does it come from any other media or personal experience, or is it just trying to capture what is written on the page as a character?

You know, I do a little bit of both. There were parts of mother’s milk this season that were very reflective of what’s going on in our country right now. And so in those moments, you know, he spoke from the heart, you know, from what a lot of the stuff that you’re seeing happen with the protests and everything, you’ll see that he spoke from a very human experience as a black character on that show.

But it’s very much in line with the character still because some of the stuff that you’re going to see happen in season two are eerily similar to some of the stuff that’s happening in real life. So, mother’s milk would naturally respond that way, being as though he’s a black man in a world where there are beings that can kill humans and do things without being punished.

And if you were a superhero where no one can tell you what you can or cannot do, how would you behave? You know what I’m saying?

This show definitely has got the superhero part to it, but it is a drama in itself as well, so I was wondering what do you like best about working on this show, what is the appealing part to you as an actor and as a fan?

You know, what I like most about working on the show is that on one hand we get to play, make-believe and be kids all over again. I mean, working on a superhero show at the end of the day is still a treat. I mean, you’re still being a child and using your imagination to imagine what’s happening, people and things flying, because ultimately, we don’t see what you see when we shoot it. We only see what we imagine that it looks like.

We have an amazing special effects team that tells us, “okay, this is what happened. This is what that looks like and this is what it’s going to look like when this happens.” And then we try our best to match their description to what we imagine it’ll look like when it turns out. And luckily, we try not to overact just in case it ends up not being as big as what we thought it was going to look like.

Thanks Laz! Now my last question was, why would you recommend folks check out season 2 of “The Boys” and if they haven’t seen it yet, start catching up for this new season?

Well, I recommend it because this show is bloody. It’s action-packed. It tells a really cool story. You got great characters that are really screwed up in the head. And it’s funny, you know, I mean, you get a little bit of everything. You laugh, you get mad, you see some cool stuff. And it’s just all wrapped up in one. You get a little bit of everything in our show.